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Good English learning habit: carry around a piece of paper

I find that I forget a lot of what I learn. Do you have that problem?

For example, if I watch a movie in a foreign language, I usually hear a few interesting new phrases. If I'm paying attention, I might even think, "Hey, I should remember this for later!". But a few minutes later, it's gone. If you ask me the next day, I probably won't remember what even happened in the movie, much less any new words or phrases :)

Ah, if only there was a way to record what I've learned and save it for later...

Wait! There's is a way to do that! In fact, it's an extremely simple technique. Just make sure that you have something to write on. Then develop the habit of writing things down.

I like to carry around a really small, thin notebook that fits in my back pocket.

Even better might be a folded-up...

5 steps to achieving your New Year's resolutions

I'm a big fan of New Year's resolutions. "New Year's resolutions" are yearly goals that you set for yourself at the beginning of a new year. They usually have to do with fitness, saving money, education, etc.

People often make New Year's resoltions at the beginning of the year but don't end up keeping them. That used to happen to me too. Then one year I got serious about my resolutions and started using some of the techniques that I'm going to describe below. I ended up achieving all of my New Year's resolutions that year, and it felt great!

So here are some techniques to help you become a super resolution achiever:

1. Only pick three goals

You should have one really important goal that you're going to achieve no matter what. You can set two other goals to work toward as well. Just...

What would you do if you could speak English perfectly?

Imagine that you were able to speak English perfectly. What would you do with that skill?

Would you give speeches? Negotiate deals? Read great literature? Pick up women? 

Would you make friends? What kind of people would you be friends with? What would you want to talk with them about?

Would you move to another country? Get a new job? 

I bet that, no matter what your answer, you can probably start doing those things now. You don't need to wait until you're perfect. So what are you waiting for? 

Please share your English aspirations in the comments!

8 reasons why your English isn't improving

Do you feel like you're becoming better at speaking English?

I often get emails from PhraseMix readers saying something like this:

"I need help. I've been studying English for a long time, but I don't feel like I'm improving. What do you suggest?"

Here are some of the most common reasons that I think people "get stuck" and don't improve.

Reason #1: You don't spend enough time on it.

Improving your English ability requires a lot of time. To keep improving, you need to spend at least one hour every day practicing.

If you have a busy life and only study on the weekend, it's going to take a very, very long time to become fluent. You've got to do it every day. Even spending ten minutes a day is better than nothing.

Reason #2: You're too passive.

When I was a kid, I used to think I could...

How your brain learns English (and how it doesn't)

I sometimes worry that the lessons I write contain too much information.

"Information" includes anything that can be written as a "rule": grammar rules, explanations of the difference between two words, etc.

It's OK to learn information about English. But it's much, much more effective to become used to English through repeated speaking and listening. Here's why:

Your brain doesn't work like this

Your brain isn't one big container that can be improved just by dumping more information into it.


It works like this

Instead, imagine that your mind has two separate "buckets". 

One part of your mind (the Knowledge section) stores information.

Another separate part of your mind (the Performance section) controls things that you're able to do, like draw a picture,...

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