Learn English Daily with This Quick and Powerful Study Routine
Here’s some good news: You don’t have to spend hours a day studying English.
Of course, it does help—the more you study and expose yourself to the English language, the better you’ll become.
But, you can still squeeze in a varied study routine, even if you don’t have much time in your day to dedicate to active learning.
In this post, I’ll show you a short but effective study routine that you can use to help learn English daily!
- Learn a New Vocabulary Word
- Learn a New Phrase
- Strengthen Your Grammar Skills
- Read the News
- Review What You Learned
- And One More Thing...
Learn a New Vocabulary Word
Even if you don’t understand all the words you read or hear, a lot of times you can understand the basic idea of what they mean.
Instead of using context clues (the words around a vocabulary word in a sentence), take just 7 minutes a day to really learn one word well.
Where can you find words to learn? You could subscribe to a daily email from the Merriam-Webster Learner’s Dictionary, which has useful words for English learners with simple definitions written so that learners can understand them.
Or you can visit this website. Or this one. Yes, that’s right—you can learn vocabulary from a comedy website or a fashion magazine!
You can also use the language learning program FluentU to find new vocabulary words to learn.
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
Vocabulary Word Exercise:
1. Get a blank piece of paper (or an index card).
2. Choose a vocabulary word to learn.
3. Divide the paper into four parts.
4. Write the vocabulary word in the center.
5. In the top left, write the definition and the part of speech (e.g. noun, adjective, verb, etc.) of the word.
6. In the top right, write a sentence using the word.
7. In the bottom left, write synonyms for the word. Synonyms are different words that mean the same thing.
8. In the bottom right, write the different forms of the word. For example, for “swim” you would also write “swims,” “swimming,” “swam” and “swum.” Try to understand when you would use each form.
Now use your new word during the day!
Learn a New Phrase
Phrases are just as important as individual words. If you only learn the meanings of single words, you might be able to say “how are you?” but you won’t know the phrase “what’s up?”
It’s not always obvious when something is a phrase and not just a regular sentence. One way to tell is if you hear the same words repeated in the same order more than once. You can also search for the phrase in the Free Dictionary’s idioms section.
Another way is to look them up on websites like English Daily, which has a huge list of English idioms. Not all the idioms you find on websites like English Daily are actually used in everyday English conversations though, so you’ll need to learn how and when they’re used as well.
You can also check PhraseMix, which has many lessons about more common English phrases available for free.
Phrase Learning Exercise:
1. Choose a phrase from any of the sources above.
2. Read the phrase and the sentence that the phrase is in.
3. Answer these questions: Does your native language use a similar phrase? When might you use the phrase?
4. Come up with your own sentence using the idiom in a way that you would in your everyday life.
Strengthen Your Grammar Skills
Can you name all the word forms and tenses in a sentence in your own native language? You probably can’t!
As a language learner, though, it’s important to understand grammar rules.
Learn a little at a time! Choose one grammar rule to learn each day. You might be surprised at how much better you remember things when you learn them one at a time.
There are plenty of websites that give very short and clear explanations of single grammar rules. One good source is 5 Minute English.
Another great website is the British Council’s English Grammar Reference. You can test yourself here with interactive quizzes for each grammar rule. You can also check out Grammar Bytes, which has super clear and quick explanations with lots of examples.
Grammar Building Exercise:
1. Read a short grammar lesson from any of the websites mentioned above (or your own source!).
2. Visit any website you love that has at least a little writing. For this example, you can find an article in Elle.
3. Look for examples of the grammar rule being used on the website. For example, if you’re learning about conditionals, you can search the page for the word “if” (just press Ctrl+F and enter the words you’re looking for).
Read the News
Reading the news in English not only helps you learn the language, it also gives you something current to talk about when you meet with others who are speaking English.
There are many websites with news articles written for English learners. Voice of America has articles that are easy enough to understand but still have some challenging words and sentences. Breaking News English and News In Levels have different levels of news that you can choose based on your English skill level.
You can also visit any English news website like Yahoo News or ABC News, but articles on these websites can be harder to understand.
If you love technology, you might enjoy TechCrunch. If you prefer music news, maybe MTV is the better website for you.
News Reading (and Speaking) Exercise:
1. Find a news article that interests you.
2. Scan the article for words you don’t know and find their definition. That means you should look through the article without actually reading every word.
3. Read the article.
4. Did you understand at least the basic idea of the article? Explain out loud what the article was about, as if you’re talking to someone about it.
Review What You Learned
Take 5 minutes to review (go over) the things you studied. How much do you actually remember from what you learned
1. When you do this exercise, do everything out loud to practice speaking. Write everything down on paper to practice writing. You can also quietly review it all in your head.
2. Use your new vocabulary word in a sentence.
3. Use your new phrase in a sentence.
4. Use the grammar rule you learned in a sentence.
5. Summarize the article you read in a sentence or two.
If you feel like you don’t have enough time to learn English daily, now you do! All it takes is about 35 minutes per day and you’ll discover how fun and easy learning English can really be.
And One More Thing...
If you like learning English through movies and online media, you should also check out FluentU. FluentU lets you learn English from popular talk shows, catchy music videos and funny commercials, as you can see here:
The FluentU app and website makes it really easy to watch English videos. There are captions that are interactive. That means you can tap on any word to see an image, definition, and useful examples.
For example, when you tap on the word "searching," you see this:
Learn all the vocabulary in any video with quizzes. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.
The best part? FluentU remembers the vocabulary that you’re learning. It gives you extra practice with difficult words—and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. You have a truly personalized experience.
Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or from the Google Play store.