How a study plan can help you achieve your goals
Are you one of those very organised people, who loves planning everything in advance and making to-do lists?
Or are you a spontaneous type, who prefers to improvise and decide things at the last minute?
Maybe you're somewhere between the two.
Whether you're a natural planner or not, having some kind of plan for your English learning will help you focus and achieve your goals. It may well save you time and reduce stress too.
So what should we think about when making a study plan, and how exactly do we do it?
What are your goals?
So, you're here! Learning English … But what exactly are you working towards? An exam? A new job? Perhaps your dream is to speak English fluently.
It's really important to identify your goals before you start making your plan.
For example, if you're starting a new job where you'll need to write a lot of emails in English, you may feel the need to improve your writing skills.
If you're working towards an exam, you'll want to practise answering the sort of questions that you'll have on the day.
If your aim is to converse fluently in English, practising your speaking skills is important. And listening skills are important too.
Be realistic with the time you think you'll need to reach your goals. Nobody becomes fluent overnight! It's no secret that learning a language takes time and effort.
Breaking big goals down into smaller goals makes them easier to manage and achieve.
How much time have you got?
There's no point planning ten hours a week on your English learning if you don't have that much time to spare.
If you aren't realistic with your plan, you may well get annoyed and depressed. And you're more likely to give up.
Take your learning one step at a time. Think about how much time you can realistically spend on your English each day of the week.
Are there times that you could build some English practice into your daily routine? For example, listening to English audio or using an English learning app when you are on the bus to work.
Look at your calendar and notice the times in each day when you could do something for your English.
What resources are available to you?
Do you have a teacher? A textbook? A conversation partner? Apps or websites for learning English? A streaming platform for watching series and films?
Your plan will largely depend on the people and things that can help you.
How do you write a study plan?
If you have lessons with a teacher, these will probably be already in your calendar.
To really make the most of these lessons, plan enough time to do any homework that your teacher sets. And allow time to read over your lessons, review the vocabulary, grammar, etc. Put this in your calendar next.
For the rest of the time, you could put specific activities in your plan. For example, 'listen to an English podcast', 'online conversation with my classmate', 'use a learning app', 'watch an episode of a series in English'.
Or, you may just prefer to put 'listening practice' or 'vocabulary' and decide exactly what activity to do when the time comes.
Whichever way you do it, remember your goals and what is important for you to practise.
It's a good idea to review your goals and your study plan from time to time to see if it's working. Perhaps your goals have changed since you began.
What happens if you don't stick to the plan?
If you miss a day of learning on your app, don't worry about it! If you're short of time, you can always use the time you planned for something 'non-essential', like watching a series, to catch up on important things like homework.
Sometimes it feels good to go with the flow. For example, you see an English article that you're really interested in. Read it while you're in the mood! A friend suggests going to see an English film together. Go for it! Looking through your vocabulary notebook can wait.
So, really it's up to you. Organise your English learning time with a carefully written plan, or plan the important things and decide the details spontaneously. But don't leave it all to chance. Just a little bit of planning pays off with more learning opportunities and faster progress. Happy planning!