Focussing on the first 2 minutes can increase your motivation to learn English. By English with Stephen

Learning Strategies: The 2-minute rule

This is the transcript for the English with Stephen podcast episode about how the 2-minute rule can help you learn English.

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Hello, this is Stephen Greene back with another episode of English with Stephen. And today I have a learning strategy to talk about. Learning strategies are what good learners do in order to learn something.

There are learning strategies that are useful for anything we want to learn, whether it is English, driving a car or golf. And then there are learning strategies that are specific to languages or just English.

Well, today, I have a learning strategy that is handy for anything you may want to learn. It is a way to get motivated and create good habits. It is extremely powerful and it will only take you two minutes to do. Interested?

Find out more, after this.

Before I tell you about the 2-minute rule, I’d like to remind you that you can find a transcript for this episode on my site, A transcript is a writer version of what I say. Many learners find a transcript to be an excellent resource when learning a language. If there are some words you do not understand, you can check what they are in the transcript. You can also use it to practise your pronunciation if you read the text aloud. The transcript is totally free and you can find it on

Sometimes, it can be hard to find the motivation to do something. I mean, you know you should go for a run. You know it is good for both your physical and mental health. You know that you will feel better for it in the long term.

But does it have to be today? Can’t you just skip the run today?

I mean, it is going to take you an hour to run around the park and get home again. That is such a long time, right? And you have had a really busy day at work or at school and you are just exhausted and what you really deserve is an evening on the sofa eating pizza and watching Netflix.


Well, one of the big problems with this attitude is that it very easily becomes a habit. You decide not to go for that run, or open your book, or pick up the guitar today for a good reason, because you are tired, because you had a very stressful day.

And then, that becomes two days, a week, a month. And what’s the point now of doing anything because you have lost all your fitness, forgotten all the stuff you studied before, can’t remember how to hold the guitar.

Maybe I am just describing myself here. However, I have a suspicion that lots of us have trouble with finding the motivation to do something we know we should do, but simply don’t want to.

Well, here is a tip that I have been using recently and it is working wonders.

Focus on the first two minutes.

If you need to go for a run, then before you get off the sofa, just think about the first two minutes. You have to get changed, find your keys and get out of the door.

That’s it.

The first two minutes.

Just the first two minutes.

This works for three reasons.

First, going for a run for an hour is BIG. It is intimidating. It really is tiring. So, if you think about the whole hour, it is easy just to surrender to the thought of not doing it.

The second reason it works is that there is a lot of research into motivation and when we are most motivated. The research suggests that we are most motivated just after we have started an activity. Motivation is often low BEFORE we start. But once we have started, motivation shoots up.

So if we can focus just on the first two minutes, then we will get started, our motivation will be high and then we can keep going for another 5, 10, 60 minutes.

The final reason why focussing on just the first two minutes works is that it helps to create a habit. I have an episode planned for the new future in which I will talk in more detail about the power of good habits and how we can create good habits. In short, by focussing on just the first two minutes we are more likely to get off the sofa and START our run. If we do this often enough, it will become a habit. And habits are hard to break.

How does this apply to studying English?

Well, when you are debating with yourself about whether you are going to study English today or not, just think about how you are going to get started. Imagine getting your book out, or organising your workspace, or finding the program on your computer.

That’s it. Just imagine that process.

Once you have opened your book, or got your desk organised or started the computer program, you will have done the hard work. You will have started.

Even if you only do another 5 minutes of studying, it will be 5 minutes more than just sitting on the sofa. And who knows, it might be more than 5 minutes.

Do this every day, and soon enough you will have formed a good habit and you won’t even need to worry about the first 2 minutes. You will have the motivation to keep studying and keep improving.

Now it’s your turn. What do you do to get motivated to learn English? I’d love it if you could let me know your motivational techniques. You can let me know on my site,, or you can find me on social media. I’m on Facebook, Instagram. Just look for English with Stephen and leave me a message. I promise to reply to everyone who sends me a message.

Thanks for listening. I hope to speak to you again next week.

One comment

  1. Very good, Stephen. Suits me a 100%. Hence, I’ll go for a two minute walk today – which might end up in a thirty minute one. Cheers

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