Do you want to improve your English this year? Try mini habits.

Typical New Year’s resolutions

It’s the New Year’s Day, and everyone has made New Year’s resolutions. People have decided to lose a little weight and exercise more (like me!), take up a new hobby, give up a bad habit, learn something new or improve their English. What about you, have you made a resolution this year improve your English skills?

If you have, here are some tips for achieving your goals:

  1. Be specific. “Learn English” is too general. What do you want to improve about it?
  2. Make a realistic plan. If you have just passed the B1 level, passing the B2 level in 3 months is not usually possible unless you are studying abroad on a full time course. Most experts estimate that you need 300 contact hours.
  3. Break your goal into small parts. If you want to pass the FCE, one part of that is to be able to write a formal essay or to compare two photos for the speaking exam.
  4. Tell someone about it: this will help you to stay motivated.
  5. Get help and support. Who can help you learn faster?
  6. Make a commitment: if you want to improve your fitness, joining a gym is a good idea. If you are paying, you will feel more motivated to go. Likewise, if you sign up for an English course, you will probably spend more time studying English.
  7. Use “mini habits”. This will help you work towards your goals.

What are mini habits?

Mini habits are small routine actions that we do every day. After a time, they become automatic, which makes it easier to continue them.

If, for example, you decide you are going to “get fit” this year, the most difficult part will be to put on your gym clothes and then go to the gym for an hour. A mini habit, like “Take the stairs”, “Do 5 pushups a day” or “Walk for 10 minutes” is a small way to progress in a sustainable way. The idea is that these tasks are small, so it is not difficult to start. Little by little, they become automatic.

What are some examples of mini habits for learning English?

  1. Watch an episode of favourite American/British TV series in English with subtitles in English or your own language.
  2. Read 2 pages of a graded reader at breakfast (you might want to keep reading!).
  3. Revise vocabulary from previous units for 10 minutes, highlighting the ones you can’t remember.
  4. Spend 10 minutes reading blogs, online newspapers or magazines in English. Blogs for learning English can be very helpful, but reading anything that interests you is positive.
  5. Copy some example sentences of new grammar points into your notebook with translations in your own language. You can also make “flashcards” with the example on the front and your translation on the back.
  6. Speak in English for 10 minutes… Even it is to yourself!
  7. Write a diary entry in English.

Ten minutes is not a lot of time, but if you multiply it by 365 days, that’s more than 60 hours a year! If you also do an English course, do homework, study or use English in other parts of your life, those hours can really add up!

So what about you? What are your resolutions for English this year?

Check your understanding and vocabulary with this short QUIZ

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