Habits and routines make life simpler. They help us manage our time and get things done – often without much thought. When was the last time you thought about how to do the washing up? And when did you last think about how to get to work or school?
These routines are almost automatic for us – and so we do them more easily. The question is, do you have an English study habit yet?
In this article we’ll look at 7 simple things you can do to make studying for the Oxford Test of English part of your daily routine.
Try the Oxford Test of English demo test to see what type of questions you’ll be asked in the Oxford Test of English.
1. Improving vocabulary
Reading is one of the best ways to learn new vocabulary – and it’s something you can do to improve your English every day. You can practise it almost anywhere, whether you’re on the train, at work or school.
So how can you develop a reading habit?
- Find a regular time during the day to read in English. It could be in the morning on your way to work, in your lunch break, or whenever suits you best.
- If you have 15-30 minutes, choose a news article or a chapter from a novel.
- Alternatively, if you only have a few minutes, go on social media and interact with content in English. You can scroll through Twitter and find articles and comments on all kinds of topics (you could even change your language settings to English if you are feeling brave).
- Give yourself three minutes to quickly skim a text and identify the main point.
- You can also practise guessing the meaning of new words before checking them in the dictionary.
Make sure to read about things that you like, because if you find it interesting you’ll want to read more!
2. Improving listening skills
In the Oxford Test of English, part of the listening test is to answer questions about dialogues and multiple speakers. So it’s good to get used to hearing different people talking together.
Podcasts are excellent practise because they involve real-life conversations. Even better, you can listen to them when you are doing other things. If you like learning interesting facts, you might enjoy No Such Thing As A Fish and The Weirdest Thing I Learned This Week. Or if you would prefer to listen to a story – try Serial, an award-winning crime podcast.
Alternatively, you could also watch a short video each day to practise listening. Follow some English-speaking creators on YouTube and TikTok – you’ll be able to learn some expressions that you can use when speaking or writing an informal email to a friend.
Watching TedED is also a good way to learn some vocabulary about a variety of topics. Most videos are under ten minutes, which makes them ideal for a daily task. You can look at the transcript for any new words and check your understanding with some multiple choice questions at the end of the video.
3. Recording vocabulary
Once you’ve learned some new vocabulary, make note of it in a dedicated place. That could be in a physical notebook, on Quizlet, or in a Google doc. Just make sure you can access them at any time to review or add new words.
Organise your new vocabulary into categories (e.g. noun, verb, adverb, or adjective). If you’re in doubt, you can use the Oxford Learner’s Dictionary to find definitions and example sentences.
Also challenge yourself to use the vocabulary you have learned, because that’s how you will remember it. It’s good practice to write sentences including the new vocabulary. You could start writing a story using these words and add to it each time you learn some new vocabulary.
Make a habit of reviewing your vocabulary at the start of each week.
4. Follow Learning English with Oxford
Also, if you are planning to take the Oxford Test of English, you can keep up to date with the latest tips and advice by subscribing to our Learning English with Oxford newsletter. You can use the exclusive activities and webinars to improve your skills and get ready for the test.
5. Use a coursebook
Working from a coursebook can provide you with language and tasks that are suitable for your level of English.
6. Interest groups
Join an English language interest group. For example, you could join a painting or dance class – you’ll quickly learn new English language and vocabulary and you’ll develop confidence in speaking.
These days, some of these activities have moved online and you can still join them virtually. You can join special interest groups on Clubhouse. It’s a social media app that only uses audio. You can join “rooms” about anything, practise your listening by joining groups where people are talking in English, and even your speaking by participating in discussions.
7. Practise mindfulness
When you are studying by yourself, it’s important to be disciplined and mindful. Try the Pomodoro technique to minimise distractions; work for 25 minutes and then take a five minute break. Read more about mindfulness and the Pomodoro technique in our blog How to practice self-care when studying for your English test. Also, factor in some rest days too so you can relax, you deserve it!
There are many ways to prepare yourself for the Oxford Test of English. The best thing is to be consistent and do a little bit every day. You can learn English while also doing the things that you enjoy!