Using a Timer to Study English


I get distracted easily, and my phone is by far my biggest distraction. When I don’t feel motivated to do something, I often find myself checking Facebook or some other social media account. Or, I start reading emails that I should just delete.

Can you relate?

I found a solution, and it's one that I have applied to my language learning. So, I thought I’d share it with you. You might want to try it with your ESL learning.

It’s simple and effective.

Are you ready for it?

I sometimes use a timer to complete my language tasks.

First I choose a language task that I want to complete.

Some examples for you might include:

  • Read from a book written in English.

  • Complete exercises from a workbook that are specific to a skill that you want to master.

  • Journal in English about your day, your goals, or your frustrations.

  • Record yourself talking about a topic.

  • Listen to an English podcast.

  • Brainstorm or research vocabulary words based on a particular topic.

Now that you have a task, set the timer.

I personally use the timer on my microwave, so I can turn off my cell phone completely. Only when I turn off my cell phone completely, can I fully ignore it. But, you could also use the timer on the phone, as long as you put your phone on “do not disturb.”

I recommend setting your timer for 20 minutes. That’s how long you will work uninterrupted. My method is inspired by the Pomodoro Technique®. Perhaps you have heard of it or have seen those tomato-shaped timers. They actually suggest 25 minutes, but I find 20 minutes is a great fit for me. You can decide what works for you.

It's time to get to work.

Without interruption, work on your language task for the full 20 minutes. Then, take a break for five minutes. You can walk around, pet your dog, stretch, or simply breathe. But it’s important that you take a break.

After your break, you will need to decide if you are ready for another round of 20 minutes. If you are working on a longer project or goal, you will need to do multiple rounds, but be sure to take a break after each session. According to the Pomodoro Technique®, you can take a longer break of 20-30 minutes after four timed sessions.

So, give it a try. It works! I actually wrote this blog post using the timer method. The best part is that it works for any level of language learner because you get to choose a task that is meaningful and relevant to you. Let the countdown begin!

#languagelearninghacks #thepomodorotechnique

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