Most students are highly disorganised. They lose track of the assignments they are doing, have no idea when homework should be handed in and study plan, what study plan?
And for English students, this problem is magnified because learning a language takes a lot of self-discipline. It’s not like you can just rely on the classes and lectures to get you through all of your English studies. The most valuable time you spend learning English is through self-study — those lonely hours going over vocabulary, reading the same article for the nth time to ensure you really understand it and listening to podcasts again and again.
The average English student needs to have the discipline of an army drill-sergeant to make sure he or she builds all the English skills to a good level.
Yes, you need a plan. But what to do?
Let me introduce you to the magic of Trello. This is a fantastic app that can plan and organise all of your English studying.
Dive in, young warrior, and let’s begin!
The Nuts and Bolts of Trello
I think we need to understand what Trello is and how it works. Let’s take a look at the basic parts of the app and then we can have a better understanding of how to use it for studying English.
The Zen of Kanban
Trello is based on the Japanese philosophy of Kanban. This was developed to increase productivity in manufacturing.
It relies on a simple board where all the tasks are displayed clearly. Everyone can see what they are supposed to do and when to do it.
This proved so successful that many other organisations began to use it. Now it is used all over the world, in all kinds of businesses and other organisations to increase productivity.
And that is the key word here — productivity.
You can also use this method via Trello and become a powerful, English-studying machine.
Boards, Lists and Cards
Go to Trello and sign up. You can create boards for each project or any other major task you are trying to do.
Click on the + sign in the top-right corner of the screen and a drop-down menu appears. Click on create board and now you have a brand new board. You can call it whatever you want — I called mine ‘English Study’.
Each board can have as many lists as you want.
Ideally, you need one list for all the things you need To Do. Another list of things you are Doing. And a third for the things you have Done. That is the minimum.
You can create a new list on the left of the screen where you can see a new list. Call it whatever you want. But for our purposes of studying English, I have made eleven lists.
So you have all the main skills of English — speaking, reading, writing and listening. But other skills also play an important part in your English learning so there are cards for grammar, spelling and pronunciation too.
None of these lists is more important than the other. They all play an equal part. But also, each student is different, so you must use the lists as you see fit.
Maybe you need to spend more time on grammar and writing so you will use those lists more than the others.
Finally, there are lists for things you are doing, things you need to go over again and revise and a list for all the things you have done and completed.
English being the kind of skill it is, you can’t just complete a card and then dump it in the Done list. Some things you can — like homework assignments, projects, writing or class presentations.
But many things you will need to go over again and again until you have reached a certain level of mastery.
Only you — and your teacher — will know if you have arrived at a good level of spelling, a grammar point or pronunciation. To make sure you go over these tasks again you can put them in the Revise list.
This is a gentle reminder you need to go over these things again and keep practising.
Just pull the cards out of the revise list once a week and go over skills you need to practice.
But do not let this list build up until there are thirty cards in it.
Keep a close eye on it once a week.
The Done list is where you put all your completed tasks. Anything that is 100% done and dusted goes here.
Do not underestimate the power of the Done list. There is an extremely satisfying feeling from dragging a card from the Doing list over to the Done list.
As all these cards pile up, you will have a great sense of achievement. You will see evidence of you powering through your English studying program and gaining useful skills.
Under each list, you can create cards. These are the tasks you need to complete as part of your English studying.
So, for example, you might have the following tasks for reading:
Read school assignment: Snowboarding in Canada
Read one news article: guardian.co.uk
And for writing you might have:
School essay: A Famous Person
Personal journal: write 250 words in my private journal
The cards can be for school work you must complete and for personal tasks you want to do by yourself. Add as many cards as you want in each list — this is the perfect way to make sure that everything is accounted for, nothing is forgotten.
The only list where you cannot add many cards is in the Doing list. In this list, you can only have three cards and no more.
Remember what the man said: If you have more than three things on your list to do today, you will do nothing at all.
Keep it down to three. Three is the magic number.
Add Useful Info to Each Card
On each card, there is a space for you to add more information. This is ideal for keeping useful links to English websites or articles you want to read. Or lists of vocabulary you want to explore.
Make a Checklist
You can also make a checklist. This is great for keeping track of what things you need to do for each task.
On the card just click the checklist button then name it whatever you want.
A checklist will appear on the card and then you add items.
Add as many items as you wish. As you perform each item, you can tick it off.
Thus you have a checklist of mini-tasks on the card which is a task in itself.
Add Due Dates
Then you can add due dates. This is the deadline of the task.
This is perfect for homework assignments and any tests you have to do. But you can also give due dates to all of your other cards. That way you ensure that you complete all tasks in a timely fashion.
Job done and all done!
Move Cards from One List to Another
The thing with English is that all the separate skills affect each other. So as you learn vocabulary that in turn will affect your writing and speaking.
The English language is fluid and requires a certain level in each of the skills to gain a better general understanding of the whole language.
The great thing about Trello is that it really helps you with this. As you add a checklist to a card, you can move the card from one list to another.
So, for example, maybe you have this on your checklist:
- Learn vocabulary for ‘furniture’
- Write sentences for furniture vocabulary
- Do a spelling test for furniture vocabulary
- Write 250-word article using furniture vocabulary
- Read article on furniture
- Check pronunciation with teacher on all of furniture vocabulary
- Prepare presentation on furniture
- Do presentation on furniture
As you go through your entire checklist, you can move the card from one list to another — from the vocabulary list to the writing list to the spelling list. It will also appear in the doing list each time you are actively doing an item on the list.
Using this method you ensure that you cover every skill in English and this will help your General English improve in a huge way.
Trello is a bit of a learning curve but once you master the basics, you are well on your way. If you are serious about improving your English skills, you must have a plan. And Trello is a great way to plan practically anything.
I have created an English Study template on Trello which you can find right here. You can experiment with it until it suits your needs.
Keep trying and things will get better.
2 thoughts on “How to use Trello to create an English Study Plan”
Good Article, where I can See the template that you mention at the final? Thanks a lot.
Hi Juan, sorry I forgot to post the link. Here it is: https://trello.com/b/eq7r7eha/english-study