today I’m sharing four daily habits that will help you to improve your English because learning English is a marathon, not a sprint which is exactly why creating really simple, achievable goals that you can work on every day is the right strategy to improve your skills.
The most successful language learners find a way for the language they’re learning to become part of their daily life, just like locking the door on your way out of the house.
Your English practice is just part of your daily routine, no fanfare no applause, it’s just what you do.
And to help you with this, I’m sharing four simple things that you should do every day to improve your English and you’ll soon see that creating daily English habits is easy and your success is inevitable as long as you set yourself up with a simple system to follow and that’s what we’re doing right now.
Let’s get into it!
Our first habit is to listen to English every day. And this is a really easy place to start because there are lots of different ways to do this with podcasts, with audiobooks, TED Talks, TV series, YouTube, there are lots and lots of different options but to create a successful and simple habit around your English listening practice, make sure you set an achievable amount of time to do it in. Five minutes, ten minutes a day, that’s all you need.
If one day you feel like doing more, awesome, go for it but set your daily goal at ten minutes right because that’s achievable and that’s what we want to work towards, is just something that we can manage every single day.
I also want you to identify the source of your listening early so don’t sit down in the moment that ten minutes you’ve got to do your listening practice and think: What am I going to listen to?
No. Find a great book, have a couple of really good podcasts on the go, have a TV series that you’re watching that you can come back to again and again. If you have to think too hard about what you need to do to make that listening practice happen, you’ll find an excuse, it’ll become too hard.
If you pre-plan, pre-prepare what you’re going to listen to it’s going to be much easier for you to just stick with it.
Hey what are you listening to at the moment? I’m very keen for some recommendations, some suggestions from you so add your favourite podcasts, TV series, books, whatever you’re listening to at the moment, add it down in the comments below.
Now if you’re thinking: Do you know what Emma? I’m more of a reader than a listener. I prefer to read.
Well that’s great, awesome! But I want you to try reading with audio so as you’re reading, you get to associate the sounds and the correct pronunciation with the words that you’re seeing.
You’ve probably heard me talk about Audible before. I’m a big fan. There are thousands and thousands of books there, your favourites are probably already available.
The brilliant thing about this listening practice is it gets to inform your pronunciation skills as well. It will help you to recognise the sounds, identify these sounds in English and you’ll be able to practise making these sounds yourself which is really great because the next daily habit that you should be doing is your pronunciation practice.
Yes absolutely, you should be practising your pronunciation every day. It’s not to try and get rid of your accent completely, it’s to make sure your English is clear enough that others can comfortably understand you when you’re speaking. Great grammar skills, great vocabulary skills they’re not enough, your pronunciation is just as important.
Do you give the same amount of attention to your pronunciation skills as your grammar and your vocabulary? Your pronunciation impacts your fluency, your confidence and your ability to connect with others so it’s crucial.
So here are my tips to help you get daily pronunciation practice. A really great place to start is simply by practising with imitation lessons. I’ve got a whole playlist of them right here, you can watch them, do them as often as you like. I’ve also included a link in the description.
By practising out loud with me, you’ll start to identify some of the sounds that you get a little stuck on, feel the spots where you get a little tongue-tied and right there, that is a good indication of what you need to focus on, that sound or that combination of sounds that are difficult.
So identifying where you need to do your work is a really important first step for you and it’s the type of thing that you can do every morning you know, just after you brush your teeth, practise making those sounds, practise saying those words and build up the muscle memory in your mouth.
Tongue twisters are another really great way to practise. You could do the same thing, stick them up on the mirror.
Reading out loud is another really great way to improve your pronunciation. Doing it daily is going to help to just work those mouth muscles of yours you know, and create the sounds that you need for English.
It really doesn’t need to be more complicated than that, it doesn’t need to take you long, it might be five minutes, it might be two minutes but you just build it into your day.
All right before we move on, I’ve got a supercharged recommendation. Do this pronunciation practice with your listening practice. Stack the habit together. When you’re listening to the audiobook that you’re reading, listen to that for five minutes then press pause, then read the same paragraph again yourself while it’s fresh in your mind and do your pronunciation practice.
It doesn’t have to be a lot, a paragraph a day but that is a really awesome way to combine your listening, your pronunciation along with reading and vocabulary building skills. Supercharged.
Daily speaking practice and this is different to pronunciation practice. It’s about fluency. But my students often see this as a really big hurdle and they say things like:
- But Emma I don’t live in an English-speaking country.
- I don’t have any English-speaking friends.
Honestly, the world that we live in today makes speaking in English every day completely possible so let’s try to stop making excuses and find a way to make it happen.
I’ve got a few ideas to share with you because there are plenty of places where you can find a speaking partner online.
There are also lots of places where you can pay a tutor quite affordably. There are lots of language exchange apps or you can join an online English community, a community like Hey Lady! where you get the support of English coaches plus you get to surround yourself with other English speakers who you can meet with and you can practise with regularly and that really is the beauty of Hey Lady!
It allows you to immerse yourself in English and to easily access opportunities to practise speaking every day.
So even if you can’t make this goal happen every day, that’s okay you know, maybe you try and do it every second day, maybe twice a week.
Whatever it is, set the goal and make it consistent, promise yourself that you’re gonna see it through.
Write in English every day. Okay so the biggest barrier that I hear from my students is:
- Emma, I don’t really know what to write about. I haven’t got time to write.
Again this is just our brains trying to make some excuses for us to get us out of trouble but the truth is we really just need to find what works for us and we’re all different.
Some people are really creative, others are more practical, some of us feel like writing might be a bit of a waste of time, right?
So let’s play to your strengths. I want to give you some really simple ideas that you can use to start building your daily writing practice and I want you just to find one or even two that suit you.
You don’t need to do them all and it’s totally okay if you just toss a few of them out the window and go: I’m never doing that.
First idea. Write about your dreams in English as soon as you wake up in the morning, keep a notebook beside your bed and write down your dream as soon as you wake up.
So a really cool story from a student of mine. She was doing this activity. She had a recurring dream, a recurring dream is one that continues again and again night after night and so by writing about this dream, over time the dream started taking place in English so she started dreaming in English through this process which is super cool.
Now if you’re a creative type of person, another idea might be to write a poem or a paragraph of a story, one that you can continue writing over time over the course of a week.
You could easily review the TV series that you watched last night or the movie. If you enjoyed it, what were the characters like? What happened in the story?
Where was it set? All of these things can prompt your short writing practice the following day. You could use your writing time to reflect on what happened during the day so at the end of the day, write about what happened, who you met, what you did.
You could make a plan for what you’re going to do tomorrow and write about that. It really doesn’t have to be any more complicated than that.
I’m a very practical, purposeful person so I know that writing a story or writing about my dreams is not going to be something that I can stick with. It just doesn’t feel productive like it feels like a waste of time so if I’m gonna stick with a habit like starting a daily writing practice,
I want to focus on things that are purposeful. Planning what I need to do tomorrow, reflecting on what happened today and I know that’s the strategy that’s going to work and that’s the whole point.
You’ve got to do what feels right for you and what makes sense to you. You focus on a really simple daily habit, five minutes, ten minutes of writing practice, that’s it.
So if you can bring those four things into your daily routine in some way, you will absolutely, without a doubt improve your English but just remember that it does take time to create these habits right? I think that’s the hardest part. It takes time which is why I say please don’t be super hard on yourself if you miss a day.
Don’t throw your hands up in the air and say: See! I knew it. I told you, I told you it wouldn’t work. I can’t do a daily habit.
My rule is I can’t miss more than one day in a row so it doesn’t mean that I’ve ruined my chances of reaching my goal if I miss a day, if I mess up, if I sleep in, whatever. I can still pick up again the next day and keep moving forward towards my goal.
Make sure you keep it short and sweet, okay? Ten minutes a day, that’s it.
You are much better off spending ten minutes a day every day rather than spending one hour and then not doing anything for a whole week. It’s not the amount of time that you spend studying each day. It’s the frequency and the consistency of showing up that’s going to help you to reach your English goals faster.