Make Learning English a Habit

Make English Learning a HabitDid you know it takes 21 days to form a good habit? Research shows that when you “stick to something” for three weeks in a row you are more likely to achieve your goals. This is important for language learners or anyone who wants to make a change.

People who try something new often “fall off the wagon”. Whether it’s a fitness program or a plan to stop complaining, life often gets in the way. Those who vow to learn English are more likely to succeed long term if they stay committed to a short term goal.

How to make learning English a habit:

1. Create a specific goal
Example: Break up the four main skills (listening, speaking, reading, writing) and plan to do one hour of practice in each area at the same time every day.

2. Find a learning or motivation partner
Choose a friend to keep you on target. Your friend doesn’t need to be a language learner. She can be someone who wants to start exercising. He can be someone who wants to write a novel. It is best if you both have a goal.

3. Write out how your life will change when you achieve your goal
*If I improve my English, I will be able to get a better job.
*If I take the TOEFL test, I will be able to get into university.
*If I improve my pronunciation, my customers will understand me.

4. Keep track of your progress
Keep track of your effort in a notebook or online list. Share your progress list with your partner.

When you reach 21 days, reward yourself! Go out for dinner or a movie or buy yourself a treat. It will be easier to stay on your program now that you are in the habit. If you ever fall off again, put yourself back on the 21 day challenge.

Language note: The term “fall off the wagon” originally referred to a person who broke a promise to quit drinking alcohol. Today it refers to anyone who breaks a vow or resolution.

Leave a comment if you are going to take a 21 day challenge!

Image: flickr user kthypryn

Written by Tara Benwell for EnglishClub | July 2009
Tara Benwell is a Canadian freelance writer and editor who specializes in materials and articles for the ELT industry.


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