Learning Strategies: Short and Sweet

This is the transcript for the English with Stephen podcast episode looking at the learning strategy of ‘short and sweet’.

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Hello again and welcome. My name’s Stephen Greene and this is English with Stephen. A couple of weeks ago, in episode number 27, I said that there is evidence that the best way to learn anything is to do it often but not for long. I also promised that I would give you some recommendations for activities that you can do that last between 5 and 10 minutes.

And so here we are with this week’s episode which I have called Short and sweet!

A bit like me!

But first, some music

Today I am going to be talking about a number of different exercises you can do to help you learn English. All of them are free, and most of them can be found on the internet. I have put links for all of the resources I am going to mention on my site, EnglishwithStephen.com. As well as all the links, you can find a transcript for this episode so you can read and listen at the same time. This is a great way of improving your listening skills as well as learning new vocabulary. So go to EnglishwithStephen.com for everything you need.

Right, so my first recommendation is…me! All of my podcast episodes are designed to be short. This is my 29th episode so go back and listen to the rest. Regular listeners will know that half of my episodes are about learning strategies, like this one. Learning strategies are what good learners do to learn something, like a language. I did my dissertation for my MA in Linguistics on learning strategies, so I know how vital they are.

The other half of my episodes are stories about words. I love to explore where words come from, what they originally meant, and how they have changed over time. I will also be producing a lot more episodes, every week I hope, so make sure you follow me for more ideas and stories.

If you can’t stand listening to me for more than a couple of minutes, and there are many who would agree with you, then there are other alternatives. One is the BBC’s Six Minute English. They get a short part of a radio programme and present it for English language learners. And guess what, it is all done in six minutes! You can listen to it on your computer or download it to your phone and listen while you are walking the dog or driving or whatever. You can also download the transcript to read later.

(Make sure you check out my earlier episode about how to use a transcript!)

The BBC site is full of great articles, short videos, and descriptions of grammar and vocabulary. So, once you have listened to an episode of Six Minute English, make sure you check out all of the other great resources.

Another thing you can do is read. There is so much free stuff out there to read why not set yourself a target of reading one article every day? If you prefer books, then find a reader. A reader is a book designed for language learners, so the language is simpler and the books and chapters are shorter. You can usually read a chapter in about 10 minutes. I will post a link to some excellent readers on my website.

The next thing you can do is make use of programmes like Duolingo on the internet. You use this on your phone or your computer. You can pay for the professional version, but honestly, the free version is pretty good. You can set your goals for each day and it gives you rewards if you meet them. It is a really good resource for learning in short bursts.

How about writing? Most emails I write take me less than 5 minutes. So why not do the same thing in English? If you have a teacher, send it to him or her. If you don’t have a teacher, or your teacher won’t reply, send it t a friend who is also learning English. If you download Grammarly to your phone or computer it will show you any mistakes you are making. If you don’t want to send an email, just send a Whatsapp message instead or go on Facebook and join an English learners’ group and send messages to them.

My next tip for something you can do in about 5 minutes is a dictation exercise. On your phone, you probably have an app that will listen to what you say and then type it for you. Try saying something and see if the app understands you. You might have to repeat two or three times and concentrate on your pronunciation, but you will get it right eventually. If you don’t know what to say, then just look for a text on the internet, perhaps one you read and understood the day before, and read that.

Finally, there is youtube. There are millions of youtubers out there who can help you with your English. Some are better than others, but the best ones are the people you like, who connect with you. I’d just like to say that I have a youtube channel called English with Stephen, or you can find the link on my site.

Have I already mentioned that I have a site called EnglishwithStephen.com? I think I might have done once or twice.

Anyway, those or the quick and easy activities I recommend my students try for themselves at home. The thing is, though, that you have to do something every day! Just doing a 6-minute activity once a week is not going to help you. Remember, you have to take responsibility for your learning, not your teacher.

Do you have any other great tips for short and sweet activities you can do to continue improving your English? Let me know and maybe I can include them in a future episode.

Until then, remember you can find all my other stuff on my site EnglishwithStephen.com, as well as on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Speak soon!

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Short and Sweet activities to learn English
Ahh, cute little short and sweet beagle

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