The early bird catches the word – Five reasons why getting up early will help your English

early birdWe’ve seen the expression ‘the early bird catches the worm‘ before on the World of Words. But how can getting you up early help you learn a language?

I’ve mentioned before that I’m an early-riser. In the past, I’ve used my extra time in the mornings for a number of things, including learning a language. Nowadays, I prefer to use the early morning for writing.

If you’re a night owl and you enjoy living that way, that’s fine. If you think you could get up just a little bit earlier to to help improve your English, keep reading. It’s not difficult and, who knows? You might grow to like it. Here are five great reasons to get up early and learn English.

1. Mornings are quiet and there are few distractions
If you lead a busy life, it can be difficult for find a quiet time when you can concentrate. Especially if you have kids. Interruptions can disrupt your concentration and it’s even worse if people interrupt you in another language and stop you from thinking in English.

Early mornings are almost always a quiet time. The kids are still in bed, there are no workers making noise in the street outside, and the rush hour is still a long way off. Making the most of this time can be a great way to learn some new vocabulary, review a grammar point or even take a speaking class if you learn online.

2. You won’t need to cancel your practice
After a busy day at work, there are lots of reasons to cancel your English practice. Maybe a friend wants to go for a drink with you. Perhaps you need to take your kids to football practice. It might even be that you’re just too tired to practice. None of these things would cause you to cancel your practice if you did it before you started work.

3. You have the rest of the day to reflect on it
I mentioned a few weeks ago some tips on how to use your downtime to learn English. If you make an early start, you can review what you learnt throughout the day and make sure you really remember it.

4. You’re fresh and can think clearly
Let’s be honest – to start with, you might feel a bit tired in the morning. Once you get into the habit, though, you’ll be fresh and alert. You’ll also not have your mind full of all the things you have done in the day. A fresh, clear mind is great for learning new things.

5. It helps you get into a habit
Lots of people have written about how powerful habit-forming techniques can be for helping you reach your goals. People have applied it to personal finance and productivity, and it works for learning English, too. It’s so effective, in fact, that I will go into a lot more detail on this in a future article.

So, how do I start getting up early?

There’s a great guide to this on Leo Babauta’s excellent blog, Zen Habits. The article is really worth reading because it’s very simple and well-written. Here are the main points I found helped me learn to become an early-riser.

Start small
Try getting up fifteen minutes earlier each week. It’s quite easy to adjust this way and in a month, you will be getting up an hour earlier. Think of what you could do with all that extra time!

Have a good reason
There’s no point in getting up early unless you have something to do with the extra time. I think learning English is a good reason to get motivated to wake up earlier,

Learn to love the morning
I used to hate mornings. It really used to take me a long time to wake up. However, now I have spent time learning to get up early and made it into a habit, mornings are my favourite time of day! I always go to sleep looking forward to waking up the next day and enjoying the morning.

Have you ever tried learning in the morning? If so, let me know how it went by leaving a comment below. I’m always eager to hear about other people’s learning experiences.

Today’s image is by PsychoPxL.

How to learn new vocabulary – and remember it!

rememberA piece of advice language teachers often give their students is ‘learn three new words every day‘. This is a great idea but only if you can actually remember the words and make them part of your active vocabulary. Here’s a simple tip on remembering new vocabulary so you will actually be able to use it when you speak.

Step 1: Find the new words that you want to remember. I find the best way to find new words in another language is reading the news but maybe you have another way you prefer. If the vocabulary is not in context already, type each word or phrase into your favourite search engine and have a look at some of the real-life examples of it in context that come up.

Step 2: Write the new words or expressions on a small piece of card or a memo on your cellphone / PDA so that you can keep them with you throughout the day.

Step 3: Keep the words with you for the whole day and whenever you have some free time, make three sentences with each of the words. This helps to put them in your active vocabulary so are able to use them fluently when you speak.

By the end of the day, you should be able to remember the words or expressions and won’t forget them for a long time. I find this method works best starting early in the day and finding the new words before work so I have the whole day to make sentences with them whenever I have a few minutes spare. It only takes a few minutes in the morning to find the new words and write them down so even if you’re not an early-riser, it’s still fairly easy to find the time.

Which words are on your list for today?

This is the third installment of my new ‘Tuesday Tips‘ series. Every Tuesday, I try to share a simple tip on how to improve your language skills. Some of these are techniques I use with students in class and others are things I’ve found work well when learning languages myself. If you decide to try them out, let me know how they went by leaving a comment below the article. Click here to see some more tips on how to improve your English.

Today’s image is by Bartek Ambrozik.