Find something that you did well or think about a goal you achieved. This could be that you made an extra effort to talk to classmates, or that you read an extra page in a book every night. Acknowledge that you did well and reward yourself by spending time on an activity you like. We often forget to give ourselves credit for the good work we do, but it’s an important part of the learning process in order to feel supported and able to absorb new information.
2. What didn’t go well?
These are what I like to think of as opportunities. Anything you feel bad about is an opportunity to develop and improve, whether it is to do with a language skill, time management, or even a lifestyle choice. For example, are you getting enough sleep to reach your goals? Are you hanging out with people who get you closer to your goals or further away? Are you preparing meals that give you energy to work towards your goals? All these choices affect how effectively you’re able to learn.
3. What changes do I want to make?
Once you’ve identified what you don’t feel good about, think of creative solutions! For example, if you’re chatting all night to your friends and family and not getting enough sleep then you’re late for class every day, you might then feel bad because your teacher gets annoyed and the other students have to wait for you to catch up. That's not fun for anybody. Even more worryingly, this might lead to you failing the level. What might work better? Maybe you can find a time during your lunch break to chat instead of night time. Maybe you can write letters to each other or send each other photos or presents. You might even like turning your phone off between certain hours. When you know the changes you want to make, it’s time to put them into action!
4. Plan for success
As Benjamin Franklin famously said, failing to prepare is preparing to fail. Make a weekly planner or download one from the RMIT Learning Lab, where you can also learn more about time management. Use your ideas for change and make sure you’re realistic about your time and energy levels when you want to practise English, and put in time for breaks and adequate sleep. In fact, some studies even show you can improve your vocabulary during your sleep!
5. Believe it to see it!
Visualise yourself speaking English confidently and comfortably in class, then with a tutorial group at uni, then with your lecturer. Imagine your friends admiring how good you are at English. How do you feel? Keep this vision in your mind and refer to it often. What else do you want to see in your life? See it clearly in your mind and feel it. This makes it more real for you, increasing your motivation and energy levels which in turn increases your ability to learn. It is one of the most effective training techniques used by elite athletes and the best performers in many fields, and best of all, it’s free!
To sum up:
1. Feel good about what you did well.
2. Identify what you want to do better.
3. Figure out how to do better.
4. Have a plan.
5. Use your thoughts to support you.
Let us know what you think in the comments. What changes will you try this February?