You know that mastering a foreign language isn’t about going to a language class once a week or cramming just before a test. It’s continuous work. It’s what students do every day that matters most. It’s their good language learning habits. Today, we’d like to encourage you to help your students develop those good habits and make this year their best ever.
Don’t worry about mistakes
Fear of making mistakes is the single biggest obstacle that is holding students back from becoming fluent. If that’s the case with some of your students, let’s nip this in the bud! Tell your students this year to always have one rule in mind before they speak or write in English: don’t worry about mistakes. You can go a step further and ask them to keep a log of all the times they spoke without this fear. They can also make notes: did I make a mistake? If so, what happened? It will help them realise that nobody is going to judge them for making a mistake.
Review before learning
If you don’t review, you forget. It’s as simple as that. But it’s so hard to implement! So let’s turn this into a habit: before starting a new lesson, review the material from previous lessons. Just make sure to tell your students exactly how to review it! Should they make sentences with the new vocabulary? Or listen to a podcast that you talked about?
Listen & read
In the previous paragraph, we established a habit of reviewing the old material before each new lesson. But we can’t forget about every other day of the week. Let’s have two of those days for reading and listening. Encourage your students to choose two days of the week to:
- listen to (or watch): part of a podcast, an episode of a series, BBC radio for 10 minutes,
- read: a blog article, a social media post, one page from a book.
Speak & write
Now, it’s time for some production skills! Encourage your students to choose two days a week to:
- talk to themselves in the mirror, narrate what they’re doing, talk to a friend who can speak English,
- write: a post on social media, or just a comment on someone else’s post, a short message to a friend, a few sentences of what happened that day.
That’s a habit that should always be present in your lessons. Encourage your students to take notes from day one. Making hand-written notes is such a powerful tool for memorising new material. Some adult students might not be too keen on this, only because they don’t know how to do it. So take a moment to explain how exactly they can take notes. First of all, tell them that they don’t need to note everything, just things they find difficult or interesting.
Choose the right materials
Many students have a lot of resources to learn from. Too many. They collect materials, instead of actually using them: apps, exercise books, websites, self-study courses, etc. Do they think that just accumulating them is going to magically put knowledge into their minds? We don’t know. But we do know, that having too many things to choose from can be overwhelming. Help your students to choose the right resource, and guide them on how to make the most of it.
Developing good language learning habits should be easy, it only takes about 15 minutes a day. And yet, it’s too hard for most students.
So why is that?
Very often, the problem isn’t the lack of time, but just not knowing what to do. For all the habits, make sure to tell your students exactly what they need to do. And this is the one habit we encourage YOU to develop for yourself: if you tell students to practise English every day, always tell them exactly what to do.