The key to learning a language is consistency. It’s better to study frequently for shorter periods than taking long breaks doing between classes or exercises. With this in mind, I’ve put together 5 quick English exercises that you can practice every day. Each one of these can be practiced in 10 minutes or less. And we all have 10 minutes a day — it’s just a matter of finding it. You could get up a little earlier each day or cut your lunch break short.
Or you could take some time on your commute. There are many ways of getting a bit more time out of your daily routine if you’re creative and motivated enough. Now let’s get to it.
1. Review, recycle, reuse.
Review what you have learned over the week. Look over your notes. Write grammar questions to ask your tutor in your next lesson, and review 6 to 12 new words or expressions from that week’s classes. Then make a conscious effort to use any new vocabulary in coming lessons or in your day to day situations in which you use English.
2. Have a “thinking in English” session.
This is dead simple. Spend 5-10 minutes thinking in English. It can take any form. You can think in English when you are preparing a meal. Consider how you could explain the recipe and process to somebody in English. Of course explaining a recipe might not be something you need to do in real life, but it’s good practice for explaining a process and therefore very useful.
At work you could mentally prepare for a meeting in English by preparing what you're going to say in English. Think of linking expressions and words you’d use to develop your ideas or move from one topic to another. You could also anticipate comments from colleagues or possible questions. This serves as a great warm up to being able to put across your ideas fluently in a meeting.
English exercises that are more 'free-flowing' like this can be very useful, and at the same time easy to forget to do if you don’t have a reminder. Consider setting a calendar reminder for the same time — even if it’s just 5 minutes — each day.
3. Listen to an English podcast.
Consciously trying to think in English is one of the more proactive English exercises. But there are good passive ones as well, such as listening to English podcasts. There are many free podcasts available online. Find a topic you enjoy and download a series or subscribe to an interesting channel.
One of my favorites is the 6 Minute English by the BBC. Every week they publish a 6 minute news piece with explanations of vocabulary that comes up in the story and there is a fairly simple listening task set at the beginning of each one. The BBC also has many podcasts on a whole range of different topics if you have an higher level.
If you’re learning American English, VOA News might be your best bet. They have a wide variety of topics to listen to. They have a news podcast and a learning English podcast, depending on your needs and interests.
For those at a lower level, the British Council has released a series aimed towards new English learners at Elementary level.
4. Practise doing 5 minute summaries.
Write a summary of or record yourself summarizing a TED talk, an article or a podcast once per week. You could then share this with your tutor as a homework task and receive feedback on your grammar, pronunciation, etc. as well as get new vocabulary suggestions. It’s this shift from more receptive skills to more productive skills that’s important here. Being proactive like this will help you to consolidate your knowledge more much more rapidly. Consider putting this “summary” exercise on your calendar at least twice a week.
5.Use the internet in English.
Find a good free online resource tailored to learners of English in a specific country and spend 10 minutes reading through new resources, articles, and watching videos. Don’t forget that our motor memory is one of the strongest we have and so take time to write out new vocabulary and example sentences using the target grammar. Studies show that writing, as opposed to typing, accesses different areas of the brain and helps to consolidate our memory.
If you apply these 5 tips to your working week as well as regular classes, you will notice some impressive results in a shorter period of time than you expect.
Take charge of your learning and soon you’ll be speaking with ease and confidence in all areas of your life.