Kaizen and the Art of Studying English

The Kaizen Method is from Japan. It is a system designed to help workers — and students — work more effectively and reach a point of expertise.

It is used all over the world to great effect by all kinds of people in many industries.

You can also use it to help you with studying English.

Would you like to see how?

Then read on, young warrior!

 

What is Kaizen?

Kaizen is a Japanese method of working productively and effectively in the workplace. It applies to all team members from the factory floor to the CEO.

It has been applied to many industries including manufacturing, healthcare companies, banks and hotels.

The word Kaizen means change for better. The entire system is designed to help people work better in all areas of their lives so they improve each and every day.

Essentially, it means that if someone uses this system in their life, they should see a huge improvement over the space of a year. If you improve at something just by 1% for example, then over the space of a year you should have improved by 365%.

Plus, you have to bear in mind, that there would be some compound interest at play here too. So maybe over 365%.

Now, who would not want to see that much improvement in a year?

 

How Kaizen breaks down

 

There are four main parts to Kaizen. These are:

Plan

Do

Check

Act

 

How these four parts break down:

Plan

In this stage, you establish your goals, your aims and your objectives for what you are trying to do. You get a pen and a piece of paper and write down all the goals you have in studying English.

Do

In the DO stage, you do what you planned above. While you are in the doing stage, you check for any significant small changes and take note of these changes.

Check

In this stage, you check for all the significant changes. You compare these changes with what you set out to achieve in your plan.

Look for similarities and differences.

You will notice some changes have been much better than you expected while others will be not as good.

Take note of everything and maybe make a graph to help you see all the changes clearly.

Act

We also refer to this stage as ADJUST. This is where you isolate any small problems and then in the next planning stage, you can improve them. Or if there are great successes you can hopefully improve that part and make even bigger improvements.

Then you go back to the planning stage and plan again.

Eventually, by doing repeated cycles of Plan-Do-Check-Act you will realise your goals as you refine the process of what you need to do.

In the check stage, you need to ask yourself why the process is not working or working as well as you expected. Keep asking why until you get to the root cause, then you can improve again.

How can Kaizen help me learn English?

 

Kaizen is perfect for English students as you can implement the four main strategies of Plan-Do-Check-Act easily into your study plan.

This can be used for all the separate skills of English learning. All the skills of reading, writing, listening, speaking and vocabulary. You could also have other sessions for grammar and pronunciation.

By using the Kaizen method you are not only planning what you need to do but also checking what you have done to ensure that you are progressing.

You are in a constant cycle of planning and checking to make sure you study more effectively.

If you do not do this, then how can you notice any progress.

As the man said — if you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it.

 

What do I need to do?

 

The first thing you need to do is make a plan.

Without a plan, you cannot make any progress. So think about what you want to achieve.

Let’s use two examples of skills that you would like to improve — reading and vocabulary.

So you establish some goals for both:

Reading

  • Read four articles a week
  • Read ten pages of a novel
  • Make note of any new vocabulary in notebook

Vocabulary

  • Go over all new vocabulary from reading and write down meanings
  • Make sentences of my own of all new words

When we are planning, we often imagine that we can achieve much more than we can in reality. But just make a plan anyway. If you have set the goals too high, you can adjust these in the check stage.

But for now, just make a plan.

Then you do all that you planned to do. Be committed and be serious about it.

At the end of the week, you can then go over all that you did. How successful were you?

Maybe you only managed to read three articles in your reading plan. Why did this happen? Keep asking yourself why until you reach the core of the problem.

It could go something like this:

Why did I only read three articles? Because I didn’t have time.

Why didn’t you have time? Because I spent too much time on social media.

Why did you spend so much time on social media? Because it is more fun and more interesting than the articles.

Why is this more interesting than the articles? Because it is about topics I like to read.

And there is your answer — choose articles that you really want to read and have an interest in. Do not find articles that are boring or no fun to read.

But maybe you overachieve in other areas. In the vocabulary section, maybe you wrote all your own sentences in a very short time. So then maybe you could write more or have more vocabulary to choose from.

You continue assessing and checking all the work that you do until you make your studying more streamlined and more effective.

 

Conclusion

 

We should always have a clear method when studying English.

Without a proper plan, we are doomed for failure. Or maybe nor failure, but certainly not a marked improvement of success.

I personally think that the Kaizen method is ideal for studying English. I hope you can put it to use in your English studies.

Let me know of your progress in the comments below!

2 thoughts on “Kaizen and the Art of Studying English”

  1. I loved learning about the Kaizen method. It was entirely new to me. I especially liked the ‘why’ questions after not meeting your goals. This really narrows down the real reasons you don’t make as much progress as you initially planned.

    It boils down to ‘accountability’ for your plans and I think that is the backbone of the method!

    Of course students still need someone to confirm their accuracy, if they are using the method on their own. So we must hope they have a caring teacher in the background somewhere.

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