Tips On How to Be an Independent Learner. Part 2

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

See part 1 here

  • Create an inspiring study space
    • Regardless of whether you study space is a whole room or just a laptop on the kitchen table, set it up in a way that will bolster your motivation for learning.
    • Make sure it’s as comfortable and cosy as possible and that everything you need is to hand.
    • Eliminate distractions: put your mobile away for the entire duration of your study session (or better still, switch it off), ask your family members/flatmates to keep quiet so you can focus, even turn off your computer if you don’t need it.
    • I prefer to study in silence but some people find that some instrumental music in the background helps them concentrate and be more productive. Songs with lyrics are more likely to distract than to assist your learning.
  • Set study goals
    • Whatever it is that you’re learning, it’s a long journey and before you embark on it you need to know where you want to get and how to get there. That’s why you need to set goals. They’ll give your learning direction, allow you to evaluate your progress and course correct if necessary.
    • Set daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly goals.
    • Make sure they’re challenging enough but at the same time achievable. (‘Watch English movies for 3 hours a day on a daily basis’ is not a realistic goal, is it?)
    • Don’t set too many goals at once. Start with one, and if you make good progress in a month or so, then add one more.
    • Think of a tool that’ll help you know when you’ve reached your goal or whether you need to re-think your study strategies. I personally like 30-day challenges (also a great way to create a new habit or get rid of an old one that no longer serves you) and lists with boxes to tick off.
    • And – probably the most important thing to bear in mind when it comes to goal setting – plan for obstacles. A road to success is not a straight one, but one full of twists and turns and even U-turns. So be prepared to face difficulties and get stuck at times, it’s okay. When it happens, have a rest, and then ‘pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and back in the saddle’.
  • One (baby) step at a time
    • We live in a world obsessed with speed. We want everything ASAP whatever it takes. However, learning is not like buying stuff on Amazon – one click, and you’ve got it delivered a few hours later. Instead it’s like growing a tree. It takes time and effort, and there will be days, even weeks, when you’ll feel like no progress is being made.
    • So be patient, keep working and allow time for changes to happen. One day you’ll look back and be amazed how far you’ve got and how much you’ve achieved. So take the first step towards your goals today and keep walking.
  • Make the most of your study time
    • Before you get down to work, make sure you’ve eliminated distractions and time-wasters such as your mobile, email and social media.
    • If you struggle to concentrate, consider trying out the so-called Pomodoro Technique. This time-management tool was created back in the 1980s by France Cirillo, then a university student. To time himself, he used a kitchen timer shaped like a tomato, or ‘pomodoro’ in Cirillo’s native language, Italian.
    • Here’s how it works: 1) choose ONE task to work on 2) set a timer for 25 minutes and work on your chosen task without interruptions 3) when the time’s up, take a five-minute break to move around or grab a bite; taking breaks is a MUST 4) repeat steps 1-3 until you’ve completed four tasks or until you’ve run out of study time on a particular day and then have a 30-minute break.
    • Needless to say, you’re free to play with the study/break ratio. See what works best for YOU.
  • Keep your study materials in good order
    • Whether it’s a notebook, a ring binder or folders on your computer, make sure you’ve got everything sorted out and easy to find and refer to when necessary. (Note that your idea of ‘good order’ is almost certainly different from other people’s, and that’s okay.)

To be continued…

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