How to change your English learning habits. 3 things you are doing wrong with learning English

Doing homework, reading grammar books and doing online exercises can all be useful, but do they really help to build long term habits to make your English progress?

The problem I see all the time with English learners that I speak to (and I speak to a lot) is that they don’t really know HOW to learn English effectively.  All of us have the skills to learn a language, so for most of us the ONLY thing holding us back is not knowing the skills needed to learn the language properly.

So I have decided to write a post about 3 problems that English learners have, and how to put them right!

Problem 1 – Thinking ‘I don’t have time to study English’

If you want to make real progress in your English, it is SO IMPORTANT to be in contact with English EVERY SINGLE DAY.  This sounds very basic, but it is really difficult for many learners to do in reality.

All of us are very busy people, so it can be difficult to do other activities as well as work.  With so little free time in today’s busy world, I am quite sure that you don’t want to spend your free time ‘studying’ English.  So the key to making sure that you make English part of your day-to-day life  is to make English fun and to separate the idea of studying from the idea of being in contact with English.  Here are some tips on how to do this:

-Forget about doing grammar exercises or reading textbooks in your free time.  Doing this isn’t going to help you to make a daily habit of being in contact with English.  If you take English lessons, do the homework you are given and leave it right there.

-Instead, spend your time interacting with English through things you enjoy, and the things that you spend your free-time doing anyway:

-Films and videos


-Video games

English shouldn’t be something that takes away your free time.  It should be PART of your free time.  To learn more about how to do this, check out my free e-book.


Problem 2 – Reading in English

Reading in English doesn’t mean that you have to read 400-page novels.  Anything which interests you which you find online can be a good source of reading.  I’m sure even those of you who really hate reading spend at least a little bit of time reading news articles or fun articles on your phones.  And this really is enough as long as you can make a habit of doing it every day. This is one reason why people say they don’t like reading in English.  It is because they are  reading things that they wouldn’t normally read in their own language.  To be honest I don’t like reading much myself, but I still read news and sports articles daily.  So if this sounds like you try small articles.

Here are 2 other possible reasons why..

-You are trying to look up every word you don’t know in the dictionary

This is a classic mistake.  Looking up words you don’t know really isn’t so necessary when reading in English.  You can still widen your vocabulary even by not learning new words, as the meanings of new words can often be found through context. The whole idea of all of this is to learn WITHOUT FEELING LIKE YOU ARE STUDYING. To find out how to get the best from reading in English, I have more information here.

-You try to read too much.

If you don’t really like reading and you try to read 20 pages per day in English, you will never be able to maintain this habit. The key, then is to set yourself a target to read ONLY 2 PAGES or 2 ARTICLES PER DAY.  This only needs to take 2 minutes from your day.  Don’t think this is enough? Have a read of my free e-book to read more about this, probably the most incredible psychological trick which can be used to transform all areas of your English.


Problem 3 – Asking this question.. ‘How do I find things to read and watch that are at my level of English?’

It is understandable that a learner of any language would ask this question. The really big problem with this, is that if you are looking for films / videos / books just because you think they will be of your level, it means that you are looking for things that you may not necessarily be interested in.

The key is to ONLY read things which you would want to read in your own language. NEVER buy or download a book just because you heard that the language is easy.  You will never get past the first 20 pages.

I advise exactly the same method for films and TV series.  As we all know, American films and TV series are extremely popular worldwide, so it is quite likely that you often watch films or TV series where the original language is English. If you have a film that you want to watch, try and watch the English language version first.  If this is too difficult, try watching the English version with ENGLISH subtitles.  If this is still too difficult, then watch it with subtitles in your own language.  Repeat the same process for any film which you want to watch.  But again, MAKE SURE THAT YOU ARE ONLY WATCHING FILMS AND SERIES THAT YOU WANT TO WATCH.  DON’T WATCH FILMS JUST BECAUSE YOU THINK IT WILL IMPROVE YOUR ENGLISH.

The things I have talked about in this post are only a few important tips on how to improve your English learning.  If you are serious about taking your English to advanced level, I suggest that you download my free e-book.  It covers many tips on how to improve your English learning, and how to avoid many more classic mistakes that so many learners make.  I don’t want you to make the same mistakes as many learners that I have met in the past have made.  

Find out how you can completely transform your English with just 6 minutes per day with my carefully planned ’6-minute Solution’, which I will guide you through step-by step.




David Cox

Advanced English for Professionals

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