Essentials for studying


I'm from North Wales, a lush green corner of the UK which owes it's greenness to the rather wet climate. While that's never been a problem for me, for Gonz (so very Spanish) it's a different story! 

The last time we visited Wales, my dad took us to a bog. The largest bog in Europe in fact! Gonza's had trainers and I had wellies - guess who was the most miserable after my dads animated tour of the bog? 

We British have a saying 'There's no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes.' Which basically means that if you have inappropriate clothes or 'kit' for an experience you're probably not going to be very successful at it or very happy at the end of it!

This made me think about the kit you need to enjoy the process of learning English.

So here is a suggested checklist for you:

1. A vocabulary book, small, with good quality paper and a nice pen attached to it if possible.
2. A small, specific list of achievable goals
3. A good dictionary
4. The Macmillan 'Sound' App
5. A magazine/book/blog in English - that you LOVE
6. A nice cup of tea or even a coffee or glass of wine.
7. A diary

1. A vocabulary book, small, with good quality paper and a nice pen attached to it if possible.

The vocabulary book is your anchor when learning English. It's a home for your English brain and personality to develop. I'll talk about this in more detail in a later post but it's important to remember some things when you are using another language. To begin with it's definitely exhausting and depending on the individual can also be very  frustrating.

You lose yourself. You can't make the jokes you make in your first language. It's difficult to be creative and show your character. Your vocabulary book is where you record and build your vocabulary and phrases. So that you can choose how to express yourself and find your personality again!

2. A small, specific list of achievable goals.

A list of achievable goals mean you have a measure for your progress. I can't even begin to describe how important this is. Do you remember when you were a child and you had a long car journey? You had NO IDEA how long it was, it was horrible! So you ended up saying 'are we there yet? How far is it? When do we get there?'

Now imagine sitting in the back of the car with a colourful checklist on it. You're looking out of the window eagerly to tick off the things you see. The old farmhouse, the petrol station with the blue sign, the field that has three bathtubs and a lazy sheep in it. You're excited and happy because you know EXACTLY where you are and where you're going. And it's interesting! The process should be the same with learning English.

3. A good dictionary

I use the online Cambridge English Dictionary.
You can listen to a recording of the correct pronunciation of the word which is really useful. You get a definition of the word in English and within a sentence. This means that you get the sense of the word in it's natural habitat. You will also save precious thinking time so that you aren't translating.

4. The Macmillan 'Sound' App

The Macmillan sound app - I will go into detail about how to use this app another day. For now let me point you in the direction of Adrian Underhill

5. A magazine/book/blog in English - that you LOVE
It's so important to have a magazine, or a book or blog that interests you. If you're not reading in English you're making life much harder for yourself. I say this whilst looking guiltily at my stack of Spanish Vogues which I need to start.

6. A nice cup of tea.

it's a great idea to make a positive association with your language learning. When I started to pick up my french again I liked to have a fancy Mariage Frères tea to put me in the mood. You could go for a Twinings Earl Grey or my current absolute favourites are the higher living teas !

7. A diary.

 This goes hand in hand with the cup of tea. By taking 5 minutes a day to journal, either in the morning or before bed you can consolidate your learning for the day. It helps to solidify your new vocabulary and also it's a meditative way to start or end the day. You can use a journal app or a traditional moleskine diary - my favourite!