Set up a dedicated study space. Find an area in your home that is comfortable, has minimal distractions, and is well lit. A desk with a computer nearby will work perfectly. Keep this space free from clutter so you don’t get distracted by anything else besides the task at hand. Get rid of extraneous objects like TV or other electronics so you can focus on what’s important. Make sure your chair is supportive enough for long periods of sitting and comfy enough to keep you focused. Have a timer on hand that beeps when it’s time to take a break – especially if reading material doesn’t require too much concentration but still needs plenty of attention (like studying). Studies show people who are working on their own have a tendency to push themselves past the point where they’re fully alert and engaged. When it feels like you’ve been going at it for an hour or more, start thinking about taking a short break before getting back into work mode again.
Stretch your legs and use the bathroom. Drink water. Take a walk around the block or do some exercises while you watch TV. Doing these things will help clear your head and recharge your mental batteries, which can make all the difference in how productive you are afterwards! After setting up your study area, choose educational material wisely: Study texts should be concise and understandable. It may seem obvious, but choosing text that is hard to read or boring isn’t helpful! Clear formatting makes it easier for your eyes and brain to process information. Avoid complicated sentence structures and vocabulary words you don’t know yet because that can slow down your progress rather than accelerate it.
Think of language as scaffolding – learn enough new words per day so you always feel slightly uncomfortable without being overwhelmed. Challenge yourself to memorize a new word every day. One way is writing each word out five times each day until it sticks; another way is saying the word five times out loud until it becomes second nature. Whatever works best for you, just commit to doing something every single day! Your brain remembers new vocabulary better when there’s repetition. And don’t just stick to English! Learning a few key phrases in other languages such as Spanish, French, Arabic, Mandarin Chinese or Russian can come in handy during travels abroad. Once you’re done reviewing your textbook materials and speaking/writing phrases out loud every day, it’ll only be natural for them to spill off the tip of your tongue one day while talking with someone else. You say tomato, I say to-may-to. Once you’ve learned a new word or phrase, it’s so important to find a way to retain it.
Try using the New Word of the Day app and spend a minute or two reviewing on your phone after you wake up. Stick a post-it note next to your alarm clock that reminds you of the day’s New Word. Carry flashcards with you wherever you go and quiz yourself throughout the day.