by Nina

The 4th session of our course English Without Books was a soft-skills lesson on effective learning, with focus on Reading. 

Apart from addressing a few students´self-study issues  and hanging up their written out goals around the classroom, we all shared tips on time management and effective learning strategies.

I believe in learning a foreign language by fully immersing yourself in the language. This is how I have been learning English my whole life. If you want to improve quickly and aren´t lucky enough to be living in one of the English speaking countries (like me),  do your best to maximize the opportunities to speak, listen, write and read in English (speaking being the most important of all). However, it is very important to choose ONLY those ways to learn English which you are comfortable with. Don´t read novels, talk to boring people or practise writing short-stories if you don´t enjoy it.

Time management for language learning can become a serious problem for many, especially if you have a family to look after or are extremely busy at work. There is a program out there, called Workflowy, which I have been using successfully for organizing my brain. You can  watch the intro video to see if Workflowy would be something for you when applied to language learning. Or you can start using Google Calender and sync it with your mobile phone/email. The key is to DO SOMETHING to organize your study time.

A simple rule for any of the 4 main skills: the more you practise the skill, the better you become in it. Only by speaking will you improve your speaking skills, and the same goes for reading.

As I heartily agree with the "narrow reading" approach suggested by Prof. Stephen Krashen, I recommend the following guidelines for consideration:
  • Read only material that is genuinely fun and interesting. Read about your passions, read comic books, celeb magazines, detective stories, whatever it is that keeps you reading/coming back to it.
  • If the book or magazine is too hard, or not really interesting, stop reading and find something else. The goal is to find material that is so engaging, and so easy, that you will forget that it is in another language. You want reading material that requires no self-discipline to read.
  • Carry the book or magazine with you everywhere. You may feel that you don't have time to read, but if you carry your book with you, the world will conspire to give you time. Take your book out when you are standing in line, waiting for a bus, and when waiting for service.

Click on this link to access lots of reading materials for English learners.  

Or make these steps to start reading about your passions (we carried out this activity in the lesson):
  1. write down all the passions you have (sports, travel destinations, favourite singer/band, your profession, your hobby,...) 
  2. choose top 2 passions which you enjoy reading about in your native language
  3. choose one of them now and spend 20-30min looking for the best website (or blog) about that passion 
  4. do the same search on Facebook and join groups/fanpages which post links about your passion
  5. do the same for your second passion
  6. read about your passion regularly (print the articles out and take them to work, café or bed so you don´t feel you are spending too much time online)
  7. comment on this article below with sharing your passions/websites/fanpages with us!

To effective reading!



Anonymous said...

Really nice again :). I carry the magazine borrowed from you almost everywhere. I am reading it especially in the tram every day :) Zuzka

Anonymous said...

Hi Nina and everybody.Thank you Nina from your recomend how or what to read and improve reading. I think that my big pasion is English now:-)and I always read somethings on facebook or links about English grammar or other links from my friends who send it on facebook:-)I like it. But now I am starting to read a book "little women" and I lent magazin about different things. I hate search any things on internet because I am very tired from it:-).

Anonymous said...

Hello Nina, thank you for the nice pictures and a great comment as usually!!I already finished the book " All I want" from Margaret Johnson. It's a very nice book and I can recommend this book at all! I want to read more english books, I learned so much vocabulary... and I am proud of myself:-)

Anonymous said...

Nina, thanks for your valuable post.
May I suggest the following links relating to "time management". I found them to be useful because sensible!


Silvers said...


I found your post both informative and beautifully laid out with excellent visuals.

Your link about organising the brain looks intriguing.

Well done!!

Nina said...

Zuzka - I am so happy to hear that! Please feel free to borrow as many magazines as you like! I will also try to get some more fashion magazines for you!
Léňa - your big passion is English now? What better can your teacher hear? :) One tip: if you don´t like searching for things online, why not get a library card in the English library in Brno?
Lenka - and I am proud of you!!!
Pietro - thanks for adding your link, here is the non-FB version: http://www.mindtools.com/pages/main/newMN_HTE.htm
Silvers - thank your for your compliments. What do you find intriguing? Have you checked out Workflowy?

Post a Comment