This week’s guest blog has been written by Kevin O’Donovan. Kevin has many years teaching experience having taught EAP at The University of Manchester and other universities in the UK and EFL in schools in Spain.
Studying English or any language can be difficult. Yet, it is important to know, that with the correct approach you will be able to accomplish your goals. Here are 10 tips to help you stay focused.
I may not be there yet but I am closer than I was yesterday.
Find out what you can realistically do in an allocated space of time and use this as your blueprint for competing a task or job.
Leaving it to the last minute is not necessarily bad, in fact, some people find that the concentration of energy and stress is enough for the task to get done.
Good intentions that motivate us to complete an action are hard wired; we get up in the morning to eat, we put clothes on and to have an interest in the world around and to get out from our homes we get a job; we need money to eat and to support a basic longing/need to be clothed and feel warm by investing in a shelter and the right clothes. We also meet people and make friends.
1. Find inspiration and let that guide you
Do one thing and do it to the very best of your abilities- what connects you to the world? Relationships? Animals? Helping others? Find and believe in inner strength to keep you energised and positive. What gives you meaning?
2. Two’s company
Great minds think alike. If you have a buddy or a friend with the same interest and ambition as you, make the journey together. You will be helping someone, which is good for the mind and you will be able to inspire and find alternative solutions to maintaining and achieving what you wish to do.
3. Little by little
You have a piece of work to give in by the end of the month-thats 4 weeks away. Some people have last minute burst of energy and live on coffee 2 days before the cut off date. That’s fine, yet you will achieve burnout and that’s not something that will set a good precedent.
Therefore, break it down. Say: ‘By the end of the week I get 500 words out of the way’. ‘Before that I’ll find a reading list’. ‘Before that I’ll ask some classmates what they know about the work at hand’. ‘Before that I will look at may class notes to see if there are any pointers’. You have already broken it down into attainable results that you will experience and see. That way 4-5 days before the deadline you’ll have you work nicely finished and you could get someone to proof read it for errors and slips that you may not have noticed. Give yourself a pat on the back. Where’s the chocolate?
4. Celebrate good times-come on!
Related to last point…so you’ve achieved your little goals- well done. Share this success with others, be proud that you’ve kept on top of things. It’s the little things in life that count.
5. You will get it wrong – so what!
“ Stop worrying about what can go wrong and focus on what can go right”
“ There’s nothing wrong with getting knocked down, as long as you get right back up” Mohammed Ali.
“Today is a new day. Even if you got it wrong yesterday, you can get it right today” Dwight Howard
Getting it wrong is ok- it proves you’re human and you are learning.
6. Get into a habit on a daily basis
For language learners this could be reading in the target language, listening to a radio station or a documentary – doing a crossword, playing game, singing a song. Make it fun, get someone to join in with you.
7. Take a leaf out of someone else’s book
There will always be someone who’s better than you- but what makes it this way? How can they help you what is their secret? Use class time to get to know how and why from those around you. Take risk and get to know someone who does things differently , you may just open up your mind and find out something new about your abilities. But remember you are unique and have ideas and abilities to offer also. Don’t over compare when sharing is a better option.
8. Imagine, visualise and realise.
Take some time to be grateful for your opportunities . Reflect and relax and think about your dreams and how you are going to accomplish them- how can you overcome obstacles?
9. Give me a P, “P” give me an A “A” give me a T“T”…ok !…
…patience is a great skill to have and is related to doing things one step at a time as in point number 3. We can get excited and drawn into the emotional rush of wanting to do something ASAP. We are bombarded with info in a screen obsessed culture, learn to navigate successfully by being selective with what you do. Being patient is a skill worth cultivating more than intensity. “Patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting” (anon).
10 Heard the one about…
A sense of humour is a great part of being human and its contagious! Tell a joke and you’ll get another one back. Being able to keep things in perspective and telling a joke from time to time will help us keep our plans and intentions in perspective; laughing will help you relax and keep you happy.
“Nothing is impossible. The word itself says ‘I’m possible!”
“Why was the M&M excited to get to school on Monday? He wanted to be a Smartie!”
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