I’m going to show you how to create your perfect easy and fast study routine for English learning in 15 minutes a day.
Some teachers will tell you that you need to study from morning to night all day, every day to reach English fluency. That’s simply not true! The way you study is more important than the time you study. Let me explain.
Active Vs. Passive Learning
When you are focused and thinking critically, asking questions, and producing a language by speaking or writing, this is active learning. On the other hand, if you’re simply hearing the language, like listening to music or the TV, but you’re not really thinking critically about it or taking notes, this is passive learning.
A New Active Learning Daily Study Routine
In today’s video, we’re going to talk about creating an active learning study routine that can help you improve your English fluency in as little as 15 minutes per day!
You can do a lot of things to immerse yourself in English throughout your day, and this does help of course, but it is passive learning. We need to create an active learning experience for at least 15 minutes a day in order to improve your English skills.
Why? Because daily habits are very important! Our habits create who we are. Think about what you do every day. Studying English for 15 minutes every day is more effective than studying for 5 hours once a month. Here’s an example – if you brush your teeth for 5 hours once a month, I don’t think that would be very healthy. Think of English as a daily habit for the health of your English!
You may feel like English is difficult. Some days it’s not always easy to get up and want to study English, but when you create a habit, English becomes automatic. So how do we create a good habit and a good study routine?
I’ll show you how to integrate every English skill – reading, speaking, writing, and listening – into a 15-minute daily English routine. Make this a habit that you do day after day, and it will start to feel automatic!
Are You an Early Bird or a Night Owl?
First, are you more of an early bird (someone who likes to wake up early) or a night owl (someone who stays up late)? We want to have our study routine in the time of day when we have the most energy, focus, and concentration.
I feel like I’m more of an early bird. I feel more energy and focus in the mornings. How about you? Are you an early bird or a night owl? Tell me in the comments below!
Eating the Frog
We should start with the skill that you find most difficult. Sometimes this is called “eating the frog.” This means to do the most difficult thing first.
So many students tell me that listening is the most difficult skill in English. I’ve definitely found listening to be more difficult than reading in the languages that I’ve learned, like Portuguese, Spanish, and Japanese.
Daily Habits Don’t Have to Be Boring!
This video is made in partnership with the language learning app Duolingo. With this free app you can improve all four English skills. I highly suggest that you download this app, and the link is in the description. I love this app because it’s fun! It feels like a game, and you can certainly improve your English in less than 15 minutes a day by using Duolingo. Their education scientists have discovered to what really helps English Learners learn vocabulary, improve their listening skills, their structure and grammar, and all of our language learning skills.
Some people think that a routine is boring. They want to do something different each day and decide each day how to study English. I’m here to tell you that routines don’t have to be boring, they can be fun!
It’s actually through consistency and daily habits that we improve. When we don’t have to think each day about how to create our schedule for studying, we can simply go ahead and start studying! It’s one less thing to think about.
Start With Listening
Let’s start with listening, let’s eat the listening frog! Learning English can be based on activities that we enjoy doing.
Listening to podcasts is one of my favorite things, and one of the best things you can do.
I highly suggest the “Voice of America” podcast if you are an intermediate English learner. If you’re more advanced, then I recommend NPR, National Public Radio. They have various programs that are suitable for advanced English Learners.
Both of these offer news-based and story-based podcasts. One of my favorite podcasts is “This American Life,” which is also super-helpful if you’re living in the US or you’re curious about American culture.
YouTube TED Talks are a great resource if you love learning new things and you love hearing insights from knowledgeable experts. TED talks often have subtitles in many different languages.
If you want to know a specific Ted talk to start with, well, I’m going to recommend my own! A few years ago, I had the honor and privilege of presenting a TED talk, so I’ll link to that in the description.
If you’ve been feeling a little anxious or overwhelmed about everything that is going on in the world, I have a great suggestion for you. You can calm down and meditate through English and improve your English listening at the same time! The app is called Headspace. I use it to calm down at the beginning and end of the day.
Your Study Routine
When you schedule your study time, make sure that you’re doing it at the same time each day. It’s really helpful to build a routine.
Routine can be supported by “triggering events.” For example, I have a sequence of events. I wake up, I brush my teeth, I make a cup of tea, and then I study language. After I study language, I put on my workout clothes and go for a jog.
I have a sequence of events in the morning and I know one leads to the other. This is extremely helpful for me, and I know it will be for you as well.
More Tips for Your Study Routine
If you have materials you’re using, for example, a journal, your laptop, a pair of headphones, or a smartphone, you can set these out at your desk or next to your bed. This way you have these materials ready to go, when you wake up or before you go to sleep.
Think about how you can prepare your materials and structure your day so that you are prepared when it’s time to study. Build a really effective routine not only for your English study but for your life!
Learning Speaking Skills
When so many of us are staying at home and working from home, how do we practice speaking skills? Well, there are a lot of ways!
First of all, you can practice on your own by shadowing (imitating the same thing) when you hear someone speaking English.
For example, I was watching a show on TV where people were speaking Japanese. When I heard the Japanese, I immediately started to shadow what those people were saying.
Did I do it perfectly? No! Did I catch every word they said? No! However, I caught some of it and I was able to speak at a fast native pace, speaking in phrases that people use in real life.
This is a great way for you to practice speaking, by repeating exactly what you hear as soon as it is spoken.
I love to learn songs in languages that I’m learning. Whatever song is interesting to me that week, I’ll sing it (or at least memorize the chorus) and then I’ll sing it out loud while I’m cleaning or cooking or taking my dog for a walk.
If you’re like me and you like to put everything you do in your calendar, create a reminder for yourself! This can help you to remember that you have an appointment with yourself even if it’s for just 15 minutes.
Learning Reading Skills
Readers are leaders! It’s true because knowledge is power! I think that with a lot of us on our smartphones all the time, our reading time is reduced. I’ve tried hard to stop and give myself reading time because reading a real paper book or reading on a Kindle is much better than reading a short article on your smartphone.
What Should I Read?
Many news articles nowadays are quite negative. To be honest, I feel really down about what’s going on in the world, so I want to make some happier suggestions.
The book I’m reading right now is called “The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want.” If you’re curious about this topic, I will link to the book in the description.
Another great resource for reading happier things online is a good news site called Upworthy. This site only writes positive news stories. They’re true, and they’re uplifting – that’s why it’s called “Upworthy!” I think you’ll really enjoy that, so I’ll link to that below also.
If you’d like me to talk about more book suggestions, let me know in the comments.
More Reading Tips
Set your devices – your smartphone, your tablet, your laptop – to English! This can be a little intimidating at first, but if you already know how to use them pretty well, why not give it a try? It’s a good way to have a little more English throughout your day.
English Learning Writing Skills
Here’s a quick writing exercise called “free writing.” Just time yourself for 5, 10, or 15 minutes and simply write what you’re thinking, without judgment! Maybe there’s an issue that you care deeply about and you’d like to express your opinion. Maybe you’d like to write about something you’re feeling, or just simply about how your day went. If you’re writing at the end of your day, you could summarize your day and the things that happened.
Free writing means you are free to choose the topic and you simply write as thoughts come into your head. It’s okay if you make mistakes! The idea is to get English out of your mind and onto paper.
When you’re done, give yourself a couple of minutes to proofread your work and check for mistakes. If you like to get corrections on your writing, then a great site to try is Lang-8. You can actually write in English and get corrections from native English speakers. In exchange, you give corrections to people learning your language.
Another site that’s good for correcting your grammar is Grammarly. I’ll link to that in the description as well. It’s fast and automated so that you see the mistakes right away and can fix them quickly.
All Together Now
If you’d like to practice all of these skills together with a quick and fun game-like app, I highly recommend Duolingo. Why? Because it’s free and it’s fun! The Little Owl is so cute I actually shut off all notifications on my phone except for the Duolingo notifications because they’re so cute. I love getting reminders to study a new language.
The time will fly by if you’re using Duolingo for 15 minutes a day. It’s so easy because you don’t have to make a plan! You just open the app and start using it. It’s like a fun game, so it’s low pressure, it’s enjoyable, and it’s effective.
As I mentioned before, Duolingo’s learning scientists have studied what works and have applied it to the app. Remember, as Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do.”
Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit! Truer words could not have been spoken. I completely agree that we have to build good habits and a great study routine in order to improve our language skills.
If you would like to stay in the loop and stay connected with Go Natural English and make English learning a habit, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter at GoNaturalEnglish.com, or you can click on the link in the description below. Also check out this post, where polyglot Stephen Kaufmann shares his tips and tricks for language learning!
Thanks so much for watching, and we’ll see you next time!