Learning Strategies: Little and Often

This is the transcript for the English with Stephen podcast episode looking at the origin of the words ‘lockdown’ and ‘covid 19.

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Hello, my name is Stephen Greene, and this is the English with Stephen podcast. In half of my podcasts, I explore some effective learning strategies for learning English as quickly as possible. I have been teaching English for over 20 years, I did my dissertation for my MA in Linguistics on learning strategies and, I have been learning Portuguese for the last 15 years. We never finish learning a language, do we?

All of this means that I know how important it is to use the right learning strategies to use your time efficiently.

Today we are going to look at how you don’t have to spend hours every day trying to learn a language. Indeed, it might be just as effective to spend a little amount of time, but often, studying English.

Stay tuned because we’ll be talking all about this, after some music.

Listening to a podcast in English can be intimidating. What happens if you don’t understand some words? Or maybe the person on the podcast speaks too quickly? Well, if that happens on this podcast, you can go to my site EnglishwithStephen.com and you will find the transcript to every episode. The transcript can help you to improve your listening skills as well as help you learn new vocabulary. So, go to EnglishwithStephen.com to get your free transcript for this episode.

One complaint I get from students is that they just do not have time to study outside the classroom. I get this, I really do. We have busy lives, with so many demands from work, family, friends, pets, and so on.

My dog, Max, would love it if I never studied anything and just took him for long walks!

But I have some good news for you. Having very little time will not stop you from learning English. In fact, it might even help you.

There are many scientific studies that look at the best ways to learn, not just English, but everything from driving a car to maths. And all these studies have the same result. The best thing to do if you want to learn something is to do a little bit, often.

This means it is far better to do 5 minutes every day, than one hour once a week.

If you think about it, it makes sense. If we study a second language for an hour, we get tired, we stop paying attention. A lot of that 60 minutes is spent thinking about something else, not learning English.

However, if we only study for 5 minutes, we can devote all of our attention to the subject. 5 top-quality minutes is better than 60 low-quality minutes.

There are other advantages to studying for about five minutes every day.

If we just study every Sunday evening, we will probably forget what we did seven days before. However, if we study every day, we are more likely to remember what we did the day before. The language is kept alive inside our heads.

Another advantage is what happens when we really are busy! If we have to miss one or two study sessions on a Sunday, then we could go three or four weeks without studying anything. This is a terrible situation!

If, however, we are trying to study every day then it is ok to miss one or two because life gets in the way. This means we are less likely to lose motivation when life gets hard.

A final advantage that I would like to mention is that it is easier to fit 5 minutes into our busy schedules and make a habit out of learning. I have one student who, at the end of her working day, spends 5 minutes on the computer studying English before going home. This short 5-minute English session has become part of the daily ritual or habit.

And creating good habits is always a good thing.

Hopefully, I have convinced you that you only need to study for a short time every day. The next question you have already probably asked yourself is what activities you should do. Well, that is the subject of my episode coming up in two weeks. Make sure you subscribe to this podcast on your favourite podcast app or sign up to receive regular emails on my site so you don’t miss that all-important episode coming up in a fortnight.

That is all for today. Thanks a lot for listening and speak to you next time!

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A clock to show you don't need to spend hours studying English
Just 5 minutes more!

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