As many students discovered this year, learning English online is very different from studying in a physical classroom. There is not always a teacher looking over your shoulder. And more often than not, you have to motivate yourself.
That’s why in this blog, we’ll share 7 tips to help you learn English online – including how to set goals, create a study schedule, and stay focused. Let’s explore:
1. Set SMART goals
Lots of students wonder how to learn English online. And, we know getting started is often the hardest part. So before you begin to study English online, we recommend you set yourself some SMART goals. These are goals that are:
Let’s say your ultimate goal is to get a high score in an English language exam, like PTE Academic so you can study abroad. You’ll need to think about how to achieve this. It’s a good idea to start with short and medium term goals. For example, a good short term goal would be to learn ten words each day. A medium term goal could be to improve your practice test scores by 5% over the next month.
2. Make a study schedule
Creating a well-thought-out schedule will help you to study English online and stay organized. It’ll also mean you dedicate enough time to each language skill – speaking, reading, writing and listening.
While developing your study schedule, it’s a good idea to refer to your SMART goals. This will make sure each task is realistic and manageable – and will help you meet your objectives.
Choose the best time to study for you. If you’re a night owl, studying in the evening might be best. But if you feel most energized after an early workout, schedule time to study in the morning. The most important thing is you set a fixed time and day each week and you stick to it.
Give yourself as much time as possible to finish each task and you should also schedule in some time to relax.
Want some help creating a great study schedule? For those interested in preparing for an exam, the official PTE Academic preparation app has a handy study planner. It not only helps track your progress, but also gives you daily practice suggestions right up until the day of your exam.
3. Create a comfortable learning space
Where you study can impact your cognitive performance. For example, sunlight can lead to better learning outcomes. Temperature and noise can also affect the way you learn.
So, it’s important to set up your learning station in a relaxed, well-lit environment. Look for a quiet space, if possible behind a closed door. You might also want to decorate your study space with an indoor plant – after all, they can improve concentration by 15%!
Also make sure your learning space has everything you need before you start. Do you have water? Is your coursebook close by? And is your computer fully charged? Having all your supplies on hand ahead of time will help you to stay focused – and learn English online faster.
4. Eliminate distractions
To learn English online, you need to eliminate distractions. We recommend logging off your social media accounts until you’re done studying. If you find yourself logging back in, you might want to use a focus app like Leechblock. This productivity tool can be used to block up to 30 websites.
If you can, turn off your phone altogether and put it on the other side of the room. If you’re tempted to pick it up again, ask yourself why. Sometimes, there’s no good reason and it’s best to just keep studying.
5. Try the Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique is a great way to break your studying into manageable chunks, which will also help you stay focused.
So how does it work? Set a timer for 20 minutes. Each time the timer goes off, write a tick on a piece of paper and take a five minute break. Continue to set your timer for 20 minute intervals. When you’ve written down four ticks, give yourself a 20 minute break.
This time management system works well because it gives you frequent breaks to look forward to and helps you concentrate. You can use this time to stretch, have a snack, take a walk – or anything that gives your mind a rest.
6. Use self-study resources
There are lots of English learning materials available online – including worksheets, mock tests, games and grammar exercises.
One fun way to study English vocabulary online is with Freerice, a trivia game developed by the United Nations World Food Programme. Each time you get a vocabulary question right, money goes to the programme.
At Pearson English Assessment, we also have a huge range of resources to help test takers prepare. With the Official PTE Academic Scored Practice Test, for example, you’ll get to answer questions used on past exams – and get a Score Report to see where you need to improve. We also offer free online courses, four different preparation packages and a test preparation app.
7. Find a study partner
We all know studying online can get lonely! That’s why we recommend you find a study partner. With a partner to work with, you can practice speaking and listening. You’ll have someone to check over your work. But most importantly – you’ll have someone to hold you accountable and help you stay motivated.
There’s lots of places to find a study partner online – for example Mooclab or dedicated Facebook groups. You might also want to try out silent Zoom meetings; in these, students and professionals keep each other focused through simply working together on mute.
Another place you can interact with other students is on the PTE Facebook page, where we share daily posts about learning English and getting a great score on PTE Academic.
So now you’ve read our top tips for learning English online, it’s time to start your English journey! If you have any questions or need more support let us know in the comments.