Entries Tagged as 'Time Management'

7 tips to brush up on your English after a long break

Somehow I doubt you’ve been studying all summer.  Losing track of your studies can happen to all of us.  Just make sure that you don’t lose any progress that you made before you went on break.  Here are some ways to brush up before the next semester:

  1. Organize last semester’s paperwork.  In doing so, review all your most recent class notes.
  2. When reviewing your notes, highlight and research what you may have forgotten.
  3. Visit some ESL websites and practice with online activities.
  4. Download English songs, and listen to them actively.  Sing along if you have to!
  5. Call your English speaking friends and ask them out to lunch or coffee.  I really mean call them – don’t just text.
  6. Rent all those movies you wanted to see this summer, but never did.  Practice listening independently – without subtitles.
  7. Try to obtain a copy of the new syllabus for the upcoming semester.  Even if the teacher hasn’t written a new one, a syllabus from a previous semester will give you some insight into what you will be working on.

In order to maximize your effectiveness in English communication, find a balance between verbal communicative English (speaking and listening) and the written word (reading, writing, texting, or clicking), and you’ll be up to speed in no time.

Morning or Afternoon; Evening or Night

Learning how to express the appropriate times of the day can be tricky.  Morning, afternoon, evening, and night.  There are some cultural or practical differences in when some begin and some end.

I think a lot of the difference comes from the time we go to bed or wake up.  For example, I couldn’t sleep the other night.  I accidentally woke my husband up after getting some water.   He said, “I don’t want to go to the gym this morning.”  I said, “You mean tomorrow morning…right now it’s 2:00 at night.”  I used the word “night” because I hadn’t slept yet.  He used the word “morning” because he had just woken up.

Strictly scientifically speaking, however, you would say that the morning begins at 12:00 a.m.  However, if you see someone at a night club at 12:05 a.m., you don’t say, “Good morning” to them, but saying “good morning” would be accurate by this a.m./p.m. rule.

We need the generalities, however, because it gives us some guidance about which phrase is the most appropriate.  Try these categories:

  • from the time the birds start chirping until you go to work:  This time is morning, but also referred to as early morning. Early morning ends around 9:00 a.m.
  • from the time you start work until you have lunch:  You can safely call anytime you’re working before 11:59 a.m. morning.
  • from the time you have lunch until you leave the office:  A typical lunch hour in America is between 12 and 1 p.m. Because it’s now p.m., it’s no longer morning.  The afternoon begins at 12:01 p.m., but if it’s 12:00 p.m. people still say “Good afternoon”, even though, technically, 12:00 p.m. is noon.
  • from the time you leave the office until you eat dinner:  This time is the evening.  Notice I’m not putting an exact time here because I think the transition between afternoon and evening is difficult to define, and many people have different times they eat.  If I had to pick a time, though, I would say the evening takes place between 5 and 8 p.m.
  • from the time you eat dinner until you change for bed:  This time is usually considered night.  It’s dark, the homework and the housework are done.  We’re winding down, getting very, very sleepy.
  • the time you are in bed asleep:  This time is also called night.  When the clock strikes 12:00 a.m., however, it’s not necessarily morning.  This time is called late night.

January 5th is Make Plans Day!

It has been 5 days since the New Year began.  How many resolutions have you broken?  Don’t worry!  That’s why I invented Make Plans Day – the optimistic version of New Year’s Resolutions.

Resolutions take time, and if you work through some time management today, you’re more likely to keep those promises of saving money, losing weight, and being more active.  It’s January 5th, and you (by you I mean I) have already eaten too many sweets, been to the gym once, and watched more TV than you’d hoped.  Today is the day to plan your life so you can keep those resolutions.

You might have also noticed that stylistically, planning is more closely related to the future tense.  I’m planning to has a close meaning to I will or I’m going to.   When you make plans, you’re designing the route of action you will take.  Resolving to do something is closer to the hope or desire to do something.  I resolve to is more similar to I hope to.

I’ve always thought that resolutions are really just a fun way of putting goals on paper, but who (besides me) wants to spend their vacation filling out a calendar?  You’ve had 5 days to recover from a long break.  Now, it’s time to buckle down and make some plans!

Mastering English in 10,000 Hours

From kindergarten to the 12th grade, we spend around 15,000 hours in school.  Certainly we don’t spend that time learning how to become expert students.  From the age children begin to strengthen reading, around 7, to the time they are ready to face the “real world” at 18, they are developing expertise in literacy. Mastering literacy involves more than just the ability to read. It involves being able to analyze and intelligently discuss a piece of literature whether it’s a classic novel or a political campaign sign…or even a commercial or logo.

Similarly, learning English isn’t just about knowing the grammar rules and some key vocabulary and phrases.  It’s about being able to analyze and intelligently discuss a topic whether it’s noticing the subtleties of innuendo made by one’s tone or the intensity of one’s statement as illustrated by their body language.

In his book, Outliers, Gladwell revealed the number of hours required to be good at something:  10,000 hours is what it takes to become an expert at a particular job, talent, or task.

Where are you in your 10,000 of English practice?  Have you spent 500 hours yet?  Has it been 7000 hours of active practice?  Towards the end of this video, Malcolm Gladwell asks, “How can we as a society build institutions that provide opportunities to work hard?”  It might take 5 or 10 years to get to the point of expertise, and maybe the right type of institutions could help some, but there is the notion of personal responsibility.  So, let me ask you this:  How are you as a student building opportunities in your daily life to do the work required to master English?

List of US Holidays 2011

The new year is fast approaching, so it’s time to buy your calendars and start filling out the days when you’re out of school!  Here is this year’s list of US Holidays from this website.  Check the website for details, as some of the dates here are not the actual date of the holiday;  rather, they indicate which days observe that holiday.

Friday, December 31, 2010* New Year’s Day

Monday, January 17 Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Monday, February 21** Washington’s Birthday

Monday, May 30 Memorial Day

Monday, July 4 Independence Day

Monday, September 5 Labor Day

Monday, October 10 Columbus Day

Friday, November 11 Veterans Day

Thursday, November 24 Thanksgiving Day

Monday, December 26*** Christmas Day

The Sticky-Note Fallacy (or How To Get Organized: A 3-Step Process)

You have everything written down, so you’ll remember…is what you tell yourself.

But in reality, everything is on a sticky note.  What that really means is every piece of information that you thought was important enough to write down is scattered around on different walls, computers, rooms, papers, and books.  The truth is, you’re really not keeping track of anything with this sticky note strategy.

This 3 step process might help you learn how to get and stay organized.  Take as long as you need to learn and do each step correctly.

  1. At the end of each day, put all your sticky notes in one notebook that you look at every day.  Do this for 7 days in a row until you have developed the habit.
  2. Copy what you wrote on your sticky notes into the notebook.  Every day.  This is when you can start prioritizing your notes.  Put the most important tasks closer to the top.  Once you copy everything, throw the sticky notes away.  Do this for 7 consecutive days.
  3. After you have completed step 2, you should begin to tire of writing everything twice.  Instead of writing on sticky notes and transferring the information daily, eliminate the sticky notes altogether, and just write in the notebook.

Becoming organized is a process, but you will see that your new organization strategy will be useful to you.  It is a highly sought after skill in the workforce and in middle, high school, and college.  It takes a little time to save a lot of time.

Waiting for Ideas

One of my students said she didn’t have an idea yet for her science project that she wants to finish by the end of January.  I asked her if she had thought about it at all.  She said, “No.  I’m waiting for the idea to come to me.”

Do you know any great scientist, inventor, or artist who waited for ideas to come to them?  Here’s a list: