Top 10 Fifteen-Minute (or Less!) Ways to Study English, Part 2

Hey guys!  I’m back with the next five tips on how to study if you’re super busy!

Let’s get started!

Number 6: Review one thing from your notes

Do you take English lessons?  I hope so!  If you do, do you take notes (or does your teacher provide you with notes)?  I hope so!  Do you review those notes?  I didn’t think so!

If you’re like me, you have tons of notes just piled up, disorganized.  No problem!  Just pick one interesting, useful thing and practice it!  Look it up in your dictionary.  Look for it on google.  Practice saying it in a sentence, or write a few sentences using it.  If you have the time, think more deeply about it: are there any similar expressions?  How are they different?  When could you use the expression?  Have you heard or read it before?

Number 7: Read reviews in English

Reviews are great reading material for English learners: they’re short, natural, useful and interesting.  You can read all kinds of reviews online:

Book reviews on GoodReads

Movie reviews on Rotten Tomatoes

Travel reviews on Travelocity

Reviews are a short, natural, fun way filled with useful vocabulary and expressions.  If you’re feeling brave enough, you might want to contribute your own reviews!

Number 8: Verb conjugation drills

This is a pretty boring but simple practice to build your fluency and grammar.

Conjugating verbs can be difficult.  It’s important to get good at it so you don’t get stuck in the middle of a sentence!

Start with just the present and past tenses.  Make a list of verbs, maybe on index cards, with the present tense on the front and the past tense on the back.  Mix them up and then pull one up randomly.  Say the past tense out loud, and then check it on the back to see if you were right.  You can also do the opposite (look at the past tense side and try to recall the present tense).

Next, try the affirmative and negative forms.  Look at the affirmative form on one side (for example: have) and try to recall the negative form (don’t have).

Once you can do this fluently, combine all four!

  1. Present affirmative (have)
  2. Past affirmative (had)
  3. Present negative (don’t have)
  4. Past negative (didn’t have)

When you look at one form, try to recall the other three!  It’s a tough challenge, but if you can do this fluently, your communication skills will improve immensely!  You can even add more verb conjugations in the future if you want:

  1. Future forms (will have; won’t have)
  2. Perfect tense forms (have had; haven’t had; had had; hadn’t had)
  3. Modals (can have; can’t have; could have had; couldn’t have had; should have; shouldn’t have; should have had; shouldn’t have had, etc.)
Number 9: Change your settings to English

A couple of my very serious students have tried this, and I think it’s a fantastic way to improve your English: change your settings on your electronic devices (computer, cell phone, etc.) to English!  This will force you to look up or use context to learn a lot of new terms!  In addition, you’ll be able to explain your devices functions better, using natural English.

Number 10: Think in English

This is probably the highest level challenge.  When you have nothing else to do, and you find yourself daydreaming or thinking to yourself, do it in English!  Any time you encounter a word or expression that you don’t know how to say in English, write it down in Japanese and look it up or ask your teacher about it later!  This is probably the most mentally exhausting way to practice English in your free time, but if you can think in a foreign language, imagine how much easier it will be to speak it!

That’s it!  What did you think of those tips?  Do you have any more of your own?  Shoot me a message and share your ideas with me!  I can’t wait to hear from you.


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