10 Practical Ways To Motivate Yourself To Study English

10 Practical Ways To Motivate Yourself To Study English

1.   Be Encouraged – Your English Is Probably Better Than You Think It Is!

Unfortunately, a lot of English learners have a very negative view of their English skills. Do you ever find yourself saying or thinking things like:

  • “My English is probably full of mistakes.”
  • “I’m afraid to speak, because other people might not understand me.”
  • “I’ve been studying for years, but my English is still bad.”

We can tell you honestly that your English is probably better than you imagineSo if you tend to have a low opinion of your English, try to eliminate those negative thoughts by focusing on what you can do, not what you can’t do yet.

2.   Never Compare Your English Skills To Others’

One reason that many English learners have a low opinion of their skills is that they’re comparing themselves to native English speakers or other learners who have reached fluency. But this is not fair. Native English-speaking adults have had 20+ years of being immersed in English practically 24 hours a day. They’ve watched thousands of hours of TV in English, they’ve had years and years of instruction in school, read tons of books in English, and participated in millions of conversations in English. That’s a huge advantage. If you had all that experience, you’d be a native speaker, too. So comparing yourself, as an English learner, to a native English speaker doesn’t make sense. You must focus only on your individual progress.

3.   Don’t Take Mistakes So Seriously

Mistakes. They have the power to make you afraid to use your English and they can also make you feel humiliated when someone corrects you. Mistakes only have all that power if you allow them to have such power. The goal of learning English is to communicate, and the fact is that many mistakes actually don’t damage communication. Sometimes you make a bigger error that does cause a communication problem but this is normal, too. Because it’s part of learning a language. Just try to clarify the issue using other words. Think of a different, simpler way to say what you want to say.

4.   Visualize The End Goal, And Know That Every Bit Of Time You Invest Is Bringing You Closer

Do you know why you want to learn English?

Is it so you can work in a multinational company? Live in an English-speaking country? Travel and make friends more easily? Pass an exam? Be able to read books and watch movies in English?

Whatever your reason is, try this simple exercise: when you sit down to study English, spend a couple minutes imagining reaching your goal. Imagine yourself speaking English easily without translating in your head. Imagine yourself confidently giving a business presentation in English. Imagine reading a book in English and understanding all the vocabulary. Then, tell yourself that every study session, including this one, is bringing you closer to that situation. This makes your studying more enjoyable and more meaningful, because you know that what you are doing is useful and that you are making real progress.

5.   Keep A Record Of Your Progress (Success Journal)

Speaking of progress, it’s very motivating to keep a record of what you’ve accomplished. Get a notebook, and after every study session write down the date and a summary of “what I learned today.” This results in three things:

  • the act of writing it down helps reinforce it in your memory;
  • seeing the notebook fill up with knowledge encourages you that you are learning a lot and making progress;
  • having the notebook makes it easy to go back and review things you’ve studied previously.

6.   When You Feel Lazy, Take Small Steps

Learning English is a big project that can take many years, and sometimes you just feel discouraged and lazy or you simply don’t want to study that day. Instead of thinking, tell yourself you’ll just do one tiny thing.

For example:

  • I’ll read in English for just 5 minutes
  • I’ll listen to just one song in English and look up any words I don’t know
  • I’ll learn only 5 vocabulary words or idioms

When you take these small steps to study English, one of two things will happen:

  • after a few minutes, you’ll finish and feel like you accomplished something, even though you don’t have any more time or motivation; or
  • after a few minutes, you’ll get into it and feel motivated to continue and study a little longer.

The hardest part is often starting. However, if you take a small step, you’ll definitely learn something and you might regain your motivation in the process.

7.   Plan For Breaks, But Also Plan To Come Back

Some English learners are too hard on themselves, in other words, they have very high expectations for themselves and they never take a break. They feel like they must study every day, and if they miss a day, then they feel like a failure.

Of course I recommend studying English as often as possible, it’s especially good if you can make it part of your daily routine and habits. But we all need breaks.

If you have a very busy day, it’s OK to skip your studying, just make sure to come back to it the next day. If you’re going on vacation for a week, it’s OK not to look at English. The key is always to come back to English. Don’t let yourself get so busy that you forget to study for weeks and months.

8.   Make Learning Enjoyable

You don’t have to study the exact same way every time. Try to have some variation, to keep things interesting. For example, maybe one day you do a lot of grammar exercises. The next day, do something different, listen to a podcast instead and work on your comprehension. After that, maybe learn new vocabulary from the news. Then, maybe you want to relax a bit more so you watch a movie with subtitles. All of these things will be beneficial to your English, and having variation prevents you from getting bored.

9.   Find A Partner Or Join A Community

Scientists have discovered that one of the most effective motivators is peer pressure, that’s encouragement or expectation from people who are similar to you. For example, if you want to get into the habit of exercising, it’s hard to get off the couch and decide to exercise alone. But if you have a friend who you agreed to meet at the gym at a specific time, you’re much more likely to go.

How can you apply this to your English learning?

Join English-learning social media groups and interact with the people in there. You can also find an online speaking partner through conversation exchange websites. Having a friend who is also learning a language makes it easy for you to help and encourage each other.

10.   Challenge Yourself, Then Reward Yourself When You Reach Goals

Sometimes when you’re studying English by yourself, it can be discouraging because there’s nobody to say that you’re making a good progress or celebrate your successes. But if you give yourself challenges and rewards, it can give you the motivation to keep going and not quit.

Of course your main goal is to be fluent in English, but you can set smaller goals in the process. For example:

  • Read an entire book in English
  • Learn 10 new words every day for one month
  • Be able to talk for 5 minutes straight in English (try talking for 1 minute, then 2 minutes, and work your way up to 5)
  • Start a blog in English and write one post every week for a year

Choose goals that you think will be difficult, but not impossible. For example, if you’re a beginner, don’t choose to understand an entire movie on the first try, that will be too hard for your current level.

When you reach your goals, celebrate it. Tell a friend, family member, teacher, or English-learning partner. Do something nice for yourself and ready to take on the next challenge on your journey to fluency in English.

(espressoenglish)

  • 28 September 2016, Wednesday

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