Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Don't Have Time to Learn English? No Problem!

Does this sound familiar?

Your English is...OK. As a non-native English speaker, you are able to communicate pretty well. You can go shopping or talk to someone about your favourite film. But be honest, your English isn't as good as you want it to be, is it?

You know what you have to do; you have to study more, right? Learning a language takes hours and hours of study every single week. The only way to speak a language fluently is to sit down and start studying.

So every January 1st, you pledge to finally get started and study every day. And for a few days you do it; you read English books, do free online English grammar exercises, and watch TV in English. But one day you are just too busy, and so you skip a day of studying. And the next week you skip another one. And soon all of your English things are lying under the bed, untouched for six months, and your English is worse than it was before.

That exact situation happens to far too many language learners. And unfortunately you probably blame yourself, it's just because you are too lazy or unmotivated, right? Wrong!

It simply means that you are a regular person, just like everyone else. As an adult, you have too many things to take care of already. Your job, your family, your life can't stop for an hour or two each day just because you want to learn to speak English better.

Let's dispel the biggest myth about learning English right now: You do not have to spend hours and hours each week in order to learn English.

In fact, trying to learn too much at once can actually be the worst thing that you can do. It's been shown that people can only learn about seven new things at one time. So any time spent trying to learn more than that is just a waste of time. Linguists even recommend that you only spend about 10 minutes a day studying a language[1].

Yes, that's right, you can learn a language in just 10 minutes a day. All you have to do is dedicate yourself to doing 10 minutes of free English online grammar exercises or vocabulary work each day, and you really will see your English improve.

No one is so busy that they don't have 10 minutes every day. You could do your English studying while riding public transportation, eating your lunch, or even while sitting on the toilet. Whenever you have a few spare minutes, do a little studying. You should live your normal life and then do your studying in your free time, not the other way around.

Doing it for such a short time each day prevents studying English from becoming a chore. When it doesn't feel like work and you are having fun, that is when your brain is able to learn the best. That means that it isn't only important to study for short periods of time, but also to make that studying time interesting and fun.

Do something different each day to keep it interesting. One day you can practice your English using the great free English online grammar exercises at This tool can also help you find out what you don’t know, so you can focus on exactly what to study and make your 10 minutes a day even more effective.

The following day you can learn new vocabulary words at And at the weekend you can watch a short video or read a news article at BBC Learning English and put your studying to good use.

While you can certainly study more than 10 minutes a day if you have a little time and are feeling good, make sure not to do too much too quickly. Studying for long periods of time won't really help you very much, and it will start to make English feel like work again, instead of like a fun break each day.

Lastly, remember that learning English takes time. For normal people with families, jobs, and social lives, it just isn't possible to become fluent in English overnight. But if you stick to a plan of 10 minutes a day, you will find that your English improves faster than you ever expected.


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