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8 Habits of Effective English Learners

8 Habits of Effective English Learners

If you are reading this blog, it probably means you want to improve your English skill. There are many other people like you reading blogs like this that are about Spanish, Korean and many other languages. Everyone wants to get better! But how?

If we look at people who have successfully done what so many others are trying to do, what can we learn from them? What are the most effective language-learners doing and how can other students do the same?

We've collected some of the best tips for learning languages and have included them here for your convenience. Use them yourself and people will soon be coming to you for study tips!

Effective language learners…

...are proactive

A dial turned to "Act" instead of "Wait"

Great learners find situations to use English even if it isn't necessary in their daily lives. These days, everyone should be able to interact with English somehow, even if it is only online. There are lots of possibilities; joining an English-learners club, posting on English-language social media, and using programs like ChatGPT are just a few examples.

Instead of thinking of your language study as something you do for only a short time each day, look for ways to add it into your daily life and normal routines. The more you do this, the more using English will become natural to you. 

...pick a study method quickly

What do learning languages, losing weight and quitting smoking all share? They are all things many people want to do — and there are many different products and services designed to help them. In fact, there are so many that you could spend months and months trying to find the best ones. 

Looking for the "perfect" way to learn will probably just waste a lot of your time. Of course, you should explore different study methods, but eventually, it's time to stop researching and start working. Once you have found a method that works for you, don't waste time looking at others unless you feel the original method is no longer helping you. Using your time effectively will make a big difference in your ability to improve.

...set specific (and realistic) goals

A person working on reaching his goal of climbing to the top of the mountain

Learning another language is a great thing to do. However, if your goal is simply to "be fluent," it may be easy to get frustrated or lose motivation. 

Why? Because that goal is too big and too vague. People who are effective at learning languages (and at doing many other things as well) know the importance of setting goals that are realistic and specific. 

Ask yourself exactly what you want to be able to do. Do you want to travel to English-speaking countries by yourself? Do you want to watch English-language movies without subtitles? Do you want to give a TED talk? 

Being specific helps you focus your study time and gives you something clear to aim for. Once you've set a specific goal, look for smaller goals on the way to the big one. These will help you measure your progress and keep you motivated as you continue to study.

...aren't scared of mistakes

"You can't make an omelet without breaking some eggs." What this common English idiom means is that reaching a goal usually requires an unpleasant or uncomfortable experience along the way.

People who are effective at learning languages understand that making mistakes is natural and that they will probably make many on the road to fluency. They know that mistakes are important because they lead to a better understanding of the right things to do next time.

If the people you are studying with are too strict when your English isn't perfect, you should probably look for a better study environment. Remember: if you aren't making mistakes, you probably aren't making progress!


An effective language student reviewing a previous lesson

It's natural to always want to go to the next chapter of your study materials. After all, there are so many more vocabulary words and interesting idioms to learn. Reviewing things is not as exciting.

However, if you are always going forward, you may forget what you have already learned. That's why it's a good idea to start your study sessions with a quick review of what you studied in the past. This helps to make a stronger connection in your mind and keep new information in your memory. In addition, be sure to use what you've learned as much as you can in real situations instead of simply memorizing things. Learn it, review it, use it, remember it!

...are good listeners

You shouldn't learn a language only to talk; communication is all about both input and output. If you are watching a movie or reading a book, there is no chance for you to respond, but in a real conversation, you will need to understand your partner before you can give a good response. 

That's why effective learners work to improve their listening, reading and comprehension skills. This is good news for anyone who doesn't live nearby many English speakers. Even if there aren't people around you to speak with, you can still practice by listening — to music, to audiobooks, to podcasts, to almost anything!

...connect the language to their interests

Your motivation to study will probably go up and down over time. Effective learners avoid this problem by finding ways to connect their study to their other interests. 

For example, they may watch YouTube videos about their favorite topics in English, or use social media or online message boards to communicate with English-speaking fans of their favorite musician, book series, etc. They may even play online games with English speakers in different countries.

Think about how you can turn your hobbies into new ways to practice using English. If you are enjoying your study time, you will be more excited to do it whenever you can.

...stay positive

Three yellow balloons with positive smiley faces on them

Effective learners understand that progress takes time; they don't get discouraged if they haven't made big improvements quickly or if they don't pass their English tests the first time they try. When they experience difficulties, they learn from the situation, stand up and try again. This is a great attitude to have no matter what you are trying to achieve in life.

Your turn!

Effective language-learners succeed because they are proactive, they always look for opportunities to practice, and they aren't afraid of making mistakes. Additionally, they keep a positive attitude and are realistic about their goals and the time it takes to reach them. 

If you haven't been doing these things, it's OK; change your study style and start today! The sooner you copy these positive habits, the sooner you can start to make more progress toward reaching your own English goals.