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Rituals put you in the English mood

study-ritualsWhen you sit down to study English on your own what do you do? I don’t mean do you study vocabulary or grammar. I mean, what do you surround yourself with? How do you get in the learning English mood? Most importantly, how is your “studying English” time different than your “emailing friends” time or your “searching for work” time?

You can make English learning more enjoyable by establishing rituals. In her book, “Living a Beautiful Life,” Alexandra Stoddard describes rituals as “patterns you create in your everyday life that uplift the way you do ordinary things, so that a simple task rises to the level of something special…”

Rituals can include listening to music, arranging special objects, changing the setting, or doing activities in a certain order. By creating self-study rituals you can turn learning English into something special.

Examples of Rituals for English Learners
Don’t try to do all of the things in this list. The goal is to make your study time stand out from the rest of your day. Mix and match and find a ritual that keeps you in the learning English mood.

  • Put on some background music
  • Change the scenery (open windows, fluff up pillows, spread out or wrap up in your “English Only Blankie”, pick a fresh flower for your desk)
  • Prepare a warm beverage
  • Put on your English hat (or socks or bracelet or some item of clothing that makes you feel English)
  • Prepare a snack to nibble on throughout your session (ex: cinnamon and brown sugar toast)
  • Set a timer (spend the same amount of time each day)
  • Choose a certain time of day (ex: half an hour before your favourite TV program or while you are riding home from work on the subway)
  • Get out your “English Only” notebook and pen (Include a vocabulary section at the back to add any new words)
  • Study with or near a friend (If your friend is not in the room use a speaker phone or a private chatroom just to keep each other on task. Check in with a hello or a smiley face every ten minutes to make sure you are still studying.)
  • Designate a room or chair in your home as “English Only”
  • Start the same each time (ex: with a review of what you learned last time)
  • End your session in the same way each time (ex: play an English game, take an online quiz, write your own quiz, write sentences for all of the new words you’ve learned.)
  • Give yourself a check mark (When your session is finished mark off another successful study session on your self-study chart.)

Rituals can improve your work day too. When I start my work day I warm up my coffee, open my windows, get out my ideas notebook, and say a prayer for my children and their caregiver. Then I check my to-do list and begin my day.

Do you have a study ritual? Please share it here. If you don’t have one, which one will you try?

Image: Flickr user mer_m

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

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