What can you do when you only have a little time for English studying – and not very much space?
Here are ten “tweaks” (small changes) to your English study habits so that you enjoy your time – and you make the most of it.
Changes To Time And Space
1. A small corner of your house / flat
You don’t need a huge desk or office to study English effectively. But it definitely helps to have a place where you can keep your laptop or any books that you use. Personalise this space so it is calm and / or inspiring for you. You’ll be using it every day of the week (hopefully) so it should be comfortable, easy to use – and yours!
2. A quiet time of the day
It’s really difficult to concentrate at busy times of the day, like breakfast or dinner times. If you can, choose a time of the day when you’re alone. Perhaps before everybody else gets up, or after dinner when your family are also relaxing.
3. A routine
Make English a daily habit by studying at the same time every day. The night before, prepare what you’re going to do, so that you don’t have to waste time finding an activity. Then you can start your study immediately.
To give yourself some variety, do something different every day. For example:
Monday – Grammar
Tuesday – Reading & Vocabulary
Wednesday – Listening
Thursday – TV / Cartoons
Friday – Speaking (recording your voice)
Get The Right Equipment
4. A dictionary
A good dictionary is perhaps the best investment you can make. You can choose between a paper dictionary (like the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English – my favourite) or an online dictionary. A dictionary should give you a simple explanation and plenty of example sentences, as well as show you the pronunciation.
If you do most of your study online, a very useful dictionary is a “collocation dictionary”. This shows you how words combine with other words to make collocations. Knowing collocations helps you build fluency because you don’t have to pause while you try to remember the right word.
5. The record feature on your phone
This is a great thing to use. If you’re shy when you speak English, recording yourself speaking will help you become more confident, because it gets you speaking – and only you can hear it! What’s even better is to make multiple recordings of you saying the same thing. You’ll improve your fluency and your pronunciation.
Use the record feature to practise conversations, your pronunciation, and longer speaking activities, such as talking about your day.
6. A notebook
Keep a notebook in your study space at all times. You can use it for new vocabulary (don’t write a list, but divide your pages by themes), or for writing example sentences, grammar exercises, your learning “journal”, and so on. Your notebook doesn’t have to be beautiful, but there’s something special about writing on good quality paper!
7. Index cards
These are small cards which you can use as “flash cards”. Write a new word on one side of the card, and create collections by theme. Look at a different collection every day. Because they’re small, you can even carry them around with you.
8. Coloured highlighters / tabs
I love these as an organising tool – especially if you don’t have much space for lots of different notebooks. Use different colour highlighters to make your notebook easier to read. For example, use a green highlighter to show pronunciation, a pink highlighter for a collocation (word combination) or a blue highlighter to illustrate a grammar rule.
You can also use mini post-it notes as tabs, to mark different areas of your notebook.
9. The stopwatch feature of your phone
This is another great idea. When you’re speaking and recording, give yourself a deadline. For example, speak a sentence in five seconds. This might be impossible the first time you do it, but when you do it again, it will get easier.
Speaking deadlines help your fluency and your pronunciation, because you’ll need to fit the words into the time. Concentrate on linking between words, and making grammar words weaker and shorter.
10. A make-up mirror
Pronunciation is physical. Look at how you use your mouth, lips and tongue when you say something difficult by using a small, portable mirror.
Get An Advanced Vocabulary!
One of the quickest ways to get to advanced English level is to build your vocabulary. In my new training (coming soon!) I’ll help you get an advanced vocabulary in English so that you can speak precisely, accurately and confidently. Join the waiting list below to be the first to hear when the training starts!