3 Bad Habits from Your English Classes You Need to Break

Is this you?

  • You studied English in school for years, but feel you can’t speak English.
  • You worked hard, you were motivated (eager to learn), and you did what the textbooks and your teachers told you to do.
  • Still, you feel that your English isn’t good enough.

If this sounds like you, then maybe it’s time to break some bad habits.

A habit is something we do without thinking about it very much, almost automatically. To break a habit is to stop that habit, to change the way you act.

The way many of you learned English in school didn’t help you become fluent in English. If you are still doing what you did in school, you’ll probably not make very much progress.

So it’s time stop learning as though you were still in the English classroom. It’s time to break those bad habits.

There are three bad habits I often see in talking to students. These habits stand in your way (stop you from making progress) to better English.

BAD HABIT #1: Do all the “exercises” in the book.

In English class, most of you did vocabulary worksheets, grammar exercises, perhaps recited (repeated out loud) in class, and similar activities.

These activities are very common, but they usually do not help you become better speakers of English!

Why? Because the key to improving your English isn’t to “practice” it by writing or through grammar exercises.

No, the key (most important thing) is to get more input. Input just means anything you read or listen to in English. (I’ll explain more in a minute.)

BAD HABIT #2: Try to remember everything you see or hear.

You have probably spent hundreds (thousands?) of hours doing what some teachers told you would improve your vocabulary and grammar: memorize, memorize, memorize.

And then two days later, you “forget” all you memorized!

Memorizing a lot of English doesn’t usually work very well because we don’t remember things because we try to remember them.

We remember them because they make sense to us, because we understand them, because we comprehend them.

We call this getting lots of “comprehensible input” – language you can understand by listening or reading.

BAD HABIT #3: Force yourself to pay attention.

We’re told in school to force ourselves to pay attention even when we’re bored.

That doesn’t work for learning English (or much else, really).

In fact, this strategy backfires (has the opposite affect). The more bored you are, the less you pay attention and the less you want to listen to or read in English.

And the less you listen and read, the less you improve.

You don’t want to spend your time listening or reading dull or boring things you’re not interested in.

Instead, you want to get language that is compelling (so interesting you can’t stop listening or reading!).

Turn Bad Habits into GOOD Habits

If you do the opposite of these three bad habits – trying to “practice” language through exercises, memorization, and suffering through boring English – you will be much more successful.

That’s because the key to improving English (or any language) is to give your brain compelling comprehensible input.

This just means listening and reading things that you are really interested in AND you can (mostly) understand.

That’s all you need to do!

If you don’t believe me, take a look at this Special Report I wrote that explains all of the “secrets” to improving your English.

You can get it here: tv.eslpod.com/p/5-things-report-signup

So stop wasting your time on things that don’t work. Start the new year off right by doing things we know from research that actually DO improve your English.

What should you listen to or read?

Well, you can of course start by listening and reading our lessons.

Or you could find other interesting and comprehensible materials. But remember: Don’t waste time doing the “activities.” Just focus on listening and reading.

Don’t try to remember everything you hear or read. With enough “input,” it will all enter into your memory.

And if you get bored, change to a different lesson and find a topic that keeps your attention!

Break these three bad habits and you’ll be on your way to improving your English.

~ Jeff

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