First a disclaimer — I do not recommend giving yourself only one month to improve your English.
You should give yourself longer than that. Regular daily practice in all English skills is a much better method. You will learn more, remember more and see a marked improvement over the weeks, months and years.
Slow and steady wins the race.
But I understand the need for the One Month Challenge.
Many students have the time — and the energy — to spend an entire month devoted only to studying English to give them an edge in the big test.
If this is something you want to undertake, then I have a great plan for you. Follow each step and you will see results. But it takes a lot of determination and self-belief.
Do not let anyone or anything sway you and make sure you stay strong.
Let’s get into the first step.
Believe in Yourself 100%
If you are going to take on the One Month Challenge, then you have to believe in yourself. You cannot allow any room for doubt or negativity. The only thing in your mind must be an unwavering belief that you can make a difference in your English skills inside four weeks.
Start with this mindset.
Many students have a nagging sense of doubt in their mind over their English skills. Begin with the firm belief that you will study hard and for long periods of time every day. And that you will see a marked improvement.
From this point, you can go forwards and upwards.
Forget Everything Else in Your Life
I am sure you are a member of social media websites. That you are active in certain groups online. You also have your own life offline with friends you see daily.
Other extraneous things can take up a large chunk of our time and can divert our thinking from the goal we have ahead of us.
Can you remove these diversions for one month? Can you stay offline and away from all your favourite social media platforms for four weeks?
It is not simple but if you can maintain this level of discipline with yourself, then you will see some great results.
Get rid of the following distractions in your life for one month:
- Social media
- Your smartphone
- The internet
This may seem harsh but if you forget all these distractions for four weeks, you will have a huge amount of free time. You can then use all this free time for studying and practising English.
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Energy and Time
You will need huge reserves of this.
Unfortunately, you have limited supplies of energy and time. So use them wisely.
If you can get rid of all your distractions, then you are certainly making a lot more time available to yourself. Time is an asset so use it in the same way that you use money. With great care.
Energy is also an asset. Make sure you are eating healthily and getting enough sleep. This will ensure that you have enough energy throughout the day.
You should try to get up early each day for this month. The earlier you get up the more you can achieve in terms of your studying.
The precious hours between 5:00am and 9:00am are gold. If you can get up this early — and there is no reason why you should not — then you can achieve incredible things.
Don’t stay up late. Invariably, people do very little in terms of work or study after six o’clock in the evening. Do not surf the internet mindlessly, do not just sit through endless episodes of a show on Netflix.
Go to bed early and wake up early. Use those early hours to do a marathon session of studying. This is when you will achieve gold.
Eat well and make sure you sleep eight hours a night.
Go to bed early.
And you not only have to be committed but totally obsessed too.
For one month you must live, breathe, eat and sleep English.
Think about nothing else.
English only — every day for 30 days.
Listen, Speak, Read, Write, Rinse, Repeat
To see development in your English, you need to practice all the four main skills.
One informs the other.
If you want to see advances in your speaking, you must practice listening. Improve your listening skills and that will show in your speaking skills.
The same for you. You read something every day and this will show in what you write.
Practice all the skills. Set time aside to practice each one. You will see how each skill affects the others and all of your English skills will grow.
English is Everywhere
So, connect with it.
There is no excuse. Wherever you look you can find English.
There are books to read everywhere, free magazines, English-language TV (only for studying though!), English podcasts, English corner, libraries stuffed with English books, websites, magazines and newspapers.
You cannot just say to yourself that you don’t have the opportunity to practice your English — you do.
You just need to open your eyes and ears and you will find it.
Practice at Home
You should practice English at home every single day.
Apart from going through all your revision, there are many other things you need to do too. All the articles you need to read and read again, mp3’s you have to listen to sixteen times. You can also practice every other skill in English too.
The mirror technique has been used by great public speakers and politicians the world over. It is simple — you just face the mirror, open your mouth and speak English.
Whatever you want to practice in English you can do at home alone with a mirror.
Recite all the reading passages, repeat all the listening exercises and practise all your speaking skills while looking into a mirror.
Speak in Full Sentences
Make a habit, starting today, of speaking in full sentences. This will help you use a longer sentence structure and more grammar in everything you say.
People often speak in short, one-word answers. This is of no use to you if you are trying to become more fluent in English.
So you can begin by assembling some standard answers to everyday questions that people may ask you. If your teacher asks you how you are today, you can reply like this:
I am very well today, thank you. How about you?
I am doing just fine, thank you. May I ask how you are?
This might sound overly complex and too formal — and it is! — but it will get you into the habit of using long sentence structure and you are speaking English out loud too.
Read the Local English Newspaper
There must be an English newspaper in your town. Most towns have one.
You may not have read it in a long time — or not at all! But it is often readily available, and it is usually cheap. Some are even free.
Often the English in one of these local newspapers is straightforward. It is relatively easy to understand.
So why read it?
Because certain words and phrases will become second-nature to you. You will not have to think for a second and wonder what the meaning is. You will understand most of the articles you read.
Good for your confidence and good practice too.
I cannot emphasize self-study enough.
During this marathon month, you must dedicate hours of self-study in English every day. You cannot make much headway unless you do the right amount of hours of self-study.
How many hours must you do?
How many hours can you handle? If you can study by yourself for eight hours a day then do it. Few people can endure that many hours but if you really only have one month, you don’t have any choice.
Remember what I said earlier — time is a valuable asset so do not waste it.
If you can do only five hours of self-study a day that still amounts to 150 hours in total for the whole month.
You can achieve a lot in that time.
Go here to check how to make a study schedule.
Manage Your Time Well
And let me emphasize that you must manage your time.
These apps can really help you schedule your time but ultimately it all comes down to you. If you are not sticking with the schedule and doing the allocated work at the right time, then all is lost.
Use the Pomodoro method to make maximum use of your time.
Time is an asset. Do not waste it.
Hire a Tutor
Private tutors are costly but they can really help you make progress in a month.
Find the right English tutor and you can make great gains in your English. Personal English tutors are easy to find but you must make sure you have the right tutor for your needs.
If you are studying for IELTS, make sure you have a tutor who understands the test inside and out.
The One Month Challenge is not the best way to study English.
While I would not recommend such a short-term English study strategy, I do understand the need for some students to do it.
One month can make a difference to anything in your life so there should be no problem when studying English. Just make sure you are prepared and have all the necessary books and information required.
It will be hard work to study in such a way for thirty days. But if you dedicate the time and energy each day, you will see much progress.
Good luck and let me know your results in the comments below.