Original post from April 2020
You’ve finally taken the plunge* and enrolled in one of our on-demand online English courses for advanced learners. Woop Woop! Whether you’ve chosen the Road to English Proficiency programme, the Business English Training collection or a single course, you may be thinking, “okay, but now what?!”
You might be feeling a little overwhelmed*: This is a new platform, a new way of learning, so you might not quite be sure how things work.
Maybe you haven’t studied English in a while and you’re feeling a bit rusty*.
Maybe this is your first time taking an online course …
Whatever your apprehensions, worries or doubts are, the first thing to know is you can always ask us for help. At any stage, if you have a question, all you have to do is send us an email or send me a direct message inside the platform.
The second thing to know is we have prepared a group of tutorials that are all about setting you up* to have as much success and the best experience here possible, both from the technical side of things and from a mindset point of view.
And mindset is what we’re going to address in this article.
take the plunge* = to make a decision to do something, especially after thinking about it for a long time
overwhelmed* = to cause someone to feel sudden strong emotion; to feel overpowered
feeling a bit rusty* = to feel that you are not as good at something as you used to be, because you have not practised it for a long time
setting you up* = preparing you (watch out! This phrasal verb can have many meanings depending on the context).
Step 1: Get ‘unstuck’ in English
Do you ever feel that your English never seems to improve?!
Do you ever feel stuck in a rut*?
*rut – (get stuck in a rut) = a habit or pattern of behaviour that has become dull and unproductive but is hard to change.
Click through the photos below and see if any of them sound familiar!
How do you get unstuck and out of the rut?
Stop doing the same things that don’t work for us!
It is tempting to try an easy fix when we are stuck. Do you know how many times I’ve popped into* Feltrinelli bookstore and I’ve bought a grammar book or novel in Italian, in a desperate attempt to improve and learn Italian?
Or downloaded Duolingo or some other app thinking, yes, I’ll spend 10 minutes a day on it… but guess what? Guess how many books I have sitting on my shelf gathering dust*. And how many apps I’ve had to uninstall because they were using precious space on my ancient smartphone?
No, we need to ditch bad habits and we have to stop doing the same thing over and over, but expecting different results. It’s time to get smart and strategic!
*to pop into – go somewhere quickly
*gathering dust – something has been forgotten or it is never used
*to ditch – to stop, get rid of
- What are your ‘easy fixes’ when it comes to ‘learning’ English?
- What do you need to ditch? What do you need to stop doing?
- Take a moment here to share your thoughts in the comments 👇
Step 2: Prioritise
“Kerin, I need your help. I really need to improve my English, but I don’t have much time to study.”
I would be a rich woman if I got a penny every time a student has told me this!
Here is the thing: of course you don’t have much time. Do you know anyone who does?!
We have jobs, family, friends, pets, chores, yoga … life!
This was one of my main considerations when designing this programme – I wanted to create something that you can fit into your lifestyle.
You can can choose when you want to study. You can choose to go deeper when you want to in those moments when you do have more time and choose to do less in other busier times.
Yet, of course, the programme will only work if you show up and put the work in.
Your task here is to get honest with yourself. When you say “I can’t dedicate much time to English”, do you mean can’t or won’t?
By meaning that you won’t, what you are saying is, it’s not a priority for me. And that is totally ok! There really is no reason to feel any guilt here.
BUT you do have to be honest about it. We tend to make time for things that are important to us.
If improving your English is important to you, you’ll make time for it.
And if it’s not, you won’t.
Let’s get honest! Where do you stand right now?
- English is a priority for me and I’m ready to commit.
- English is important to me, but it’s not a priority. I don’t feel ready to commit right now.
Step 3: Make the decision to try something new
If you have decided, yes, English is a priority for me, great! It’s time to try something different; something that challenges you in order to change you.
You’ve probably done a few English courses by this point. This course is going to be a bit different.
We have a unique approach to teaching an online course, it is a digital course, but you are followed very closely by me, or another teacher… a real human being! This gives you the best of both worlds.
And you will have a unique approach to online learning: whatever works for you, stick with it. There really is no right way or wrong way to do it.
However, I can promise you this, it won’t work if you never log in to the programme and don’t do the work. And you will never be a very happy online learner.
This leads us nicely onto step 4!
Step 4: Do the work
Our programme allows you to set your own study schedule, work at your own pace, and learn from the comfort of your home, coffee shop or the office.
So what’s the catch*? Because there’s always a catch!
Raise your hand if you’ve ever joined a gym, gone for a week or two, then given up?! …
Well, it’s the same thing. You actually have to do the work if you want to see a change.
You have to set boundaries, limits, and goals for yourself.
OTHERWISE, it’s not going to work and your English isn’t going to change.
Our programme is not an easier way to learn, but rather a more convenient* one, and interesting, enjoyable and stimulating too!
To successfully learn anything, you need to dedicate your time and fully commit to your learning process, just as you would do for a traditional course, and now we are going to see exactly how to do that!
*what’s the catch? [idiom] is a retort when one believes that an offer is too good to be true.
* convenient [adjective] means suitable, appropriate, practical; fitting in well with a person’s needs, activities, and plans. (It doesn’t mean cheap or a good price)
Step 5: Set goals and objectives
1. Set expectations, learning objectives and goals
If you’re clear about your expectations, you’re far less likely to get disappointed and more likely to be motivated.
The first thing to check is that your overall goals align with this programme.
(To check this, please see your course description. If you are doing this course through company training, check your welcome email).
What are your personal goals?
Next, you should identify what your personal goals are:
- Perhaps you want to learn 10 new words and expressions every week.
- Perhaps you want to develop your listening and speaking skills so that you can carry out meetings in English more fluently
- Perhaps you want to focus on fine-tuning your English
Simply, what results do you desire?
This will be personal and unique to you.
- Do your goals align with this course?
- What are your own personal goals?
Write down your goals on a piece of paper or in the comments below. 👇
Step 6: Build a study plan
This programme has been designed to allow you to put in as much or as little as you can in that moment. Whichever way you go, you’ll be more successful if you plan time to commit to English.
I’ve found the best approach for busy bees* is to tackle* your planning weekly. Put it in your diary, a reminder on your phone, a post-it note on the fridge …
Focus on what can work for you for this week. And next week, worry about next week. That is the beauty and the benefit of online learning – you set the schedule for what works for you.
There’s no right or wrong study plan. The right one will work with your schedule and allow you to fulfil * your other responsibilities and obligations.
busy bee – an industrious person
tackle – to make an effort to deal with a (difficult) situation
fulfil – achieve or realise (something desired, promised, or predicted)
Breaking up study
People are different and what works for one might not work for another. There will be some of you who will binge the lessons like a Netflix series. I know students of mine who like to spend all Sunday afternoon inside the programme and then they don’t log in for the rest of the week. Then there are students who like to do a steady 30 minutes each day on their lunch break.
You have to find what works for you. A little every day, 3 times a week, or one afternoon a week,… mix it up, try it out
Start where you can. And let that be okay, because it is ok!
Allow yourself to work at your own rate of speed. You’re not in competition with anyone else.
At the same time, avoid giving yourself too much time off or too much slack*. If you’re constantly putting off* your studying time or neglecting to move on to the next section, give yourself a serious pep talk*.
slack – a decrease or reduction in intensity, quantity, or speed
putting off – delaying something
pep talk– a talk intended to make someone feel more courageous or enthusiastic
To sum up, when, where and how you study is up to you. You will be more successful if you plan for it!
Bonus video: Get inspired!
Try Something New
Is there something you’ve always meant to do, wanted to do, but just … haven’t? Matt Cutts suggests: Try it for 30 days.
Watch this short, lighthearted talk which offers a neat way to think about setting and achieving goals.
- stuck in a rut – lacking motivation (we saw this earlier!)
- to follow in the footsteps – to follow someone’s else’s idea
- dwelling– living
- computer nerd – a person who spends too much time with their computer
- sleep-deprived– not having enough sleep
- to stick – to be permanent
- give it a shot – just try it
1 In informal English, you can use the word pretty in place of ‘very’ or ‘quite’:
“The idea is actually pretty simple.”
2 You can use the phrase ‘why not‘ to challenge a person to do something:
“why not think about something you have always wanted to try and give it a shot for the next 30 days?”
- Would you be willing to try something new for 30 days?
- What are some things that come to mind?
- How do you think you could apply this advice to English?
Let is know in the comments! 👇