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Building a study schedule

The amount of practice required to get from one level to the next isn’t the same for everyone.
One of the factors that has the biggest impact is your starting level. For instance, it takes less time to go from Beginner to High Beginner than it does to go from High Intermediate to Low Advanced.

Weekly commitment by level

Commit to a minimum amount of time to dedicate every day. People generally recommend approximately an hour per day, with an absolute minimum of 20 minutes. Beyond the need to sleep or complete any other essential responsibilities, there is no maximum to the amount of time you could spend. The more you can commit each day, the faster your progress will be. Every additional minute helps.

Make sure you also have a large enough block of time sometime in the week to get some focused study done. That might be an hour on the weekend, for example.

How much time you can spend during the day is going to be the primary indicator of how achievable your goal is. If you think you can’t reach your desired goal given the time available, you need to either make time or adjust your goal’s timing.

The amount of practice time required to improve is also different depending on your starting level. We recommend practicing a certain amount of time every week in order to improve your proficiency score every three months:

Beginner, High Beginner — 2 hours to 3 hours

Low Intermediate, Intermediate — 4 hours to 5 hours

High Intermediate, Low Advanced, High Advanced — 4 hours to 4.5 hours

Make sure you spend time practicing every week. Just like getting in shape, learning English doesn’t happen unless you work on it consistently over time.

Your course can be made up of two types of tasks: Self-study and Tutoring/Learning in a group.

  • General “Unit” Lessons: Improve communication skills related to your specific goals and interests
  • Word Bank: Strengthen your vocabulary and master more words
  • Practice Lessons: Build your confidence around real-world topics and stay updated on the current events that interest you
  • Grammar Guide: Practice grammar topics, based on your level
  • Group Sessions: Practice listening and speaking, and meet new learners
  • Private Tutoring Session: Get laser-focused practice on whatever topic you choose


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Further advice

Turn off and remove distractions so that you can focus – it might seem like you can multi-task, but that’s a myth! Don’t get sucked into social media etc. that may feel urgent but really isn’t. There are tons of apps that help you use social media on your own terms, just search “apps that block social media” and find one you like. Review material as soon as after a study session as possible. One hour spent soon after class will do as much as several hours a few days later! Take good notes and review them while they are still fresh in your mind. At a minimum try summarizing your notes right after lecture. If your friend called and asked you what the class you just went to was about, could you tell them? Start assignments while your memory of the assignment is still accurate. Find and use “hidden time” for studying. It’s easy to waste scattered 1-2 hour free periods between classes. Use those little blocks to summarize and start HW from your previous class or prepare for your next class. If you can think of your school day like a “work day” and get your work done during the day, you will be able to actually relax in the evening (instead of worrying about all of the work that you didn’t get done during the day). Switch it up. Don’t work on one course for more than an hour or two at a time. Our ability to concentrate decreases rapidly after about 90 minutes, so switching up the courses you are studying helps keep up your efficiency. It may feel counter-intuitive to study for a class when you have an exam in a different class. But switching up your studying means you’ll learn your exam material better PLUS you won’t fall so far behind in your other classes. Plan and take real actual breaks. Get up, jump around, get a snack, watch a cute penguin video. Taking short planned breaks can help you study more during the times are you are actually studying (vs. goofing off while you’re supposed to be studying and then feeling too guilty to take a real break). If you are having trouble getting started: try the Pomodoro Technique: Pick a task to work on and then focus on that task for 25 minutes without distractions; then take a 5-minute break to stretch, doodle, check email, etc. Then start another block of 25-minutes of focused work, followed by a 5-minute break. It’s easier to keep up than to catch up! Develop a regular weekly time to review the work in each of your courses and stay up to date. This review should be cumulative, covering briefly all the work done thus far in this semester. Double your time estimates. Most people tend to underestimate how much time a particular activity/assignment will take. A good rule of thumb is to estimate how much time you realistically think something will take and then double it!


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