Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Is There a Key to Success? getting organizedSuccess means different things to different people. For some it means making a lot of money. For others it means being famous or having a loving relationship at home. Or it may mean doing the work you love on a schedule that meets your own needs. Most people wait for success, thinking it will find them. Usually it doesn't. You have to make space for success to happen. Just as there are many kinds of success, there are many ways to achieve it.

Put another way, there is no one key to success; there are many keys. Here are the most important ones:

  • Define success: Be clear about what success means to you. Is it getting high marks on your performance? Losing weight or running a marathon? Or perhaps you want to achieve financial independence. Whatever your definition of success, it must be clear to you. You can't hope for success without knowing what you are trying to achieve!

  • Have a plan of action: A plan of action is concrete and takes you a step closer to achieving success. Whatever your goal, you need a plan that includes focused activities, a schedule, and ongoing support from others. Having a plan helps you get organized. It also gives you a clear sense of purpose. You know exactly what you need to do.

  • Set milestones: Once you've got a goal, or goals, it's important to break them down into smaller, achievable targets so you don't feel overwhelmed and can measure your progress along the way. Too often people give up too soon. Celebrating wins, no matter how small, will help you keep up momentum. Rewarding yourself gives you the motivation to continue.

  • Set a timeline: Squandering time is a surefire way to guarantee that you won't succeed. By setting a timeline for your accomplishments, you put yourself under pressure to perform. This increases the pace at which you approach the success you're looking for.

  • Enjoy yourself: This is perhaps the most crucial key to success. Often the journey is just as much fun or more so than where you finally end up. When you achieve success, you need to be able to look back and feel happy that you chose the path you did. If you look back only to see a trail of wasted opportunities and missed moments then your success has come at too high a price.
  • Success doesn't depend on wishing or on luck. It requires two things -- a dream and elbow grease. If you don't have both, success will always stay just outside your grasp.

    Ways to Improve Your English Skills

    How to improve your English skills

    There are many ways to improve your level of English, but only you can find the right way for you. Here are a few tips that might help:-


    Learning is a skill and it can be improved.

    Your path to learning effectively is through knowing

    • yourself
    • your capacity to learn
    • processes you have successfully used in the past
    • your interest, and knowledge of what you wish to learn

    Motivate yourself

    If you are not motivated to learn English you will become frustrated and give up. Ask yourself the following questions, and be honest:-

    • Why do you need to learn/improve English?
    • Where will you need to use English?
    • What skills do you need to learn/improve? (Reading/Writing/Listening/Speaking)
    • How soon do you need to see results?
    • How much time can you afford to devote to learning English.
    • How much money can you afford to devote to learning English.
    • Do you have a plan or learning strategy?

    Set yourself achievable goals

    You know how much time you can dedicate to learning English, but a short time each day will produce better, longer-term results than a full day on the weekend and then nothing for two weeks.

    Joining a short intensive course could produce better results than joining a course that takes place once a week for six months.

    Here are some goals you could set yourself:-

    • Join an English course (and attend regularly).
    • Do your homework.
    • Read a book a month.
    • Learn a new word every day.
    • Visit an English speaking forum every day.
    • Read a news article on the net every day.
    • Do 10 minutes listening practice every day.
    • Watch an English film at least once a month.
    • Follow a soap, comedy or radio or TV drama.

    A good way to meet your goals is to establish a system of rewards and punishments.

    Decide on a reward you will give yourself for fulfilling your goals for a month.

    • A bottle of your favorite drink
    • A meal out / or a nice meal at home
    • A new outfit
    • A manicure or massage

    Understanding how you learn best may also help you.

    There are different ways to learn. Find out what kind of learner you are in order to better understand how to learn more effectively..

    The visual learner

    Do you need to see your teacher during lessons in order to fully understand the content of a lesson?

    Do you prefer to sit at the front of the classroom to avoid visual obstructions (e.g. people's heads)?

    Do you think in pictures and learn best from visual displays including: diagrams, illustrated text books, overhead transparencies, videos, flipcharts and hand-outs?

    During a lecture or classroom discussion, do you prefer to take detailed notes to absorb the information?

    !Learning Tip - you may benefit from taking part in traditional English lessons, but maybe private lessons would be better.

    The auditory learner

    Do you learn best through verbal lectures, discussions, talking things through and listening to what others have to say?

    Do you interpret the underlying meanings of speech through listening to tone of voice, pitch, speed and other nuances?

    Does written information have little meaning until you hear it?

    !Learning Tip - you may benefit from listening to the radio or listening to text as you read it. You could try reading text aloud and using a tape recorder to play it back to yourself.

    The Tactile/Kinesthetic learner

    Do you learn best through a hands-on approach, actively exploring the physical world around you?

    Do you find it hard to sit still for long periods?

    Do you become distracted easily?

    !Learning Tip - you may benefit from taking an active part in role plays or drama activities.


    Use self-study grammar books.

    Practice forming meaningful sentences. Make positive statements, negative, turn statements into questions, make active statements passive. Turn past tense sentences into present tense sentences etc. etc.

    Learn the different tenses. Learn by heart a simple example sentence using each tense.

    Do online exercises. Keep a note of how you did and go back in a few weeks to see how you have improved.

    !On this site:- Use the grammar pages to learn new grammar and then test yourself.


    Use self-study vocabulary books.

    Expose yourself to as much English as possible by reading, watching the TV, films or the news and listening to the radio or music.

    Do online exercises. Keep a note of how you did and go back in a few weeks to see how you have improved.

    Use stick it notes and label things around your home.

    Vocabulary webs

    Build a vocabulary web to organize your vocabulary about certain subjects.

    For example your personal life:-

    and then extend it:-

    and then extend it further...

    Flash cards

    Start a flash cards box.

    Buy or cut out some cards all the same size.

    Draw or cut out some pictures.

    Paste the pictures onto one side of the card and write the correct word on the other side.

    Put new words in the front of the box.

    Test yourself using either the pictures, the words or both.

    If you have forgotten a word bring it to the front of the box.

    !Learning tip - Use the vocabulary pages to learn new vocabulary thematically and in context.


    Make sure you have the right software to take advantage of what is available on the WWW. You can download players and find links to online radio stations at real.com , windowsmedia.com and winamp.com .

    Try some of the radio stations I recommend on my broadcasts page.

    Films in English are an excellent language resource. Follow my tips on how to use films to improve your English.

    Keep up to date with current events and watch an English-language news station, such as BBC World. Watch news reports on events you are already aware of.

    Find out how to switch languages on your TV. If you have digital or satellite TV there are several channels that broadcast in multiple languages. Eurosport is one and Euronews is another.

    !Learning tip:- Use English magazine Ezine pages to find some interesting articles to listen to.

    !Learning tip:- Use the dictation pages to test your understanding.


    Learn the phonetic alphabet.

    List words that have the same sound add to the lists as you learn more words.

    For example words that rhyme with me:-

    Work on one problem sound at a time. Read slowly concentrating on the pronunciation of particular words. Record yourself, keep the tape and record yourself later, have you improved? Don't be shy - ask a friend to listen to the tape too.

    Don't worry about sounding like a native, it is more important to speak clearly and pleasantly than it is to sound like the Queen.

    The most important thing to think about is can people understand you? If you have a problem being understood then find someone who speaks English clearly and try to mimic their accent.

    Talk to friends who are also learning English. Go out together for coffee and only speak English to each other!

    Find native English speaking friends:-

    • You can find ePals on the Internet!
    • Visit an Irish/English/Australian theme pub. Often, the waiters and waitresses come from English-speaking countries, the menu is often in English too!
    • You can find pen pals through specialist magazines. See Resources Page for details of a few.
    • Join an English club or conversation group. Around the world there are many English speaking clubs, these clubs aren't just for expats but for people interested in the English way of life. They are friendly and fun. For a list of English clubs click here. Check magazines as well as your phone book, your local newspaper and your local university. Or if there isn't one in your area - start one! Place an advertisement in yourr newspaper for people interested in starting a group or go to Meetup.

    Every week I run an English conversation group on Pal Talk - that way you get to speak to me and to other learners and native speakers.

    !Learning tip:- Use pronunciation pages to improve your understanding.


    Make a habit of reading regularly. Read as many English books, newspapers and magazines as you can find. Again this should be fun so make sure the texts you choose are not too difficult for you. If the book or article you are reading is a chore, then find something easier. You could even try reading graded books written especially for ESL learners.

    Find an author you like and read all their books. By doing this you will get used to the style of a particular author and the typical vocabulary and grammar they use. As you read more of his/her books you will find it easier and easier.

    If you have a local library, find out if they stock English books or if they have bilingual editions of English classics. Or ask them to stock English translations of books you are already familiar with.

    Try reading things more than once. Read something and then read it again a few weeks/months later. You should find your understanding has improved.

    Discuss what you have read. I am more than happy to discuss books with you on the forum.

    !Learning Tip - don't try to understand every word. Try to understand the overall meaning of a sentence or passage.

    !Learning Tip - don't translate - only use a dictionary if a word keeps appearing in a text and you still don't understand it.


    Get the most out of your dictionary by understanding how to use it well. You can use your dictionary to find words, for meaning, for pronunciation, to check your spelling and to understand explanations.

    Copy out short passages of English text from newspapers, magazines or books.

    Try dictation exercises. You can do this online or get friends to read out text for you to write and then check your writing - concentrate on spelling and punctuation.

    There are many forums on the net, find one about your interests or hobbies. Apologize if you think you have made any mistakes and politely ask for feedback.

    Find English speaking pen friends:-

    • You can find ePals on the Internet!


    Travel to an English speaking country:-

    • England is only a few hours flight away.
    • Specialist holidays are available to improve your English.
    • Take an English speaking tour or activity holiday.

    Spend your time on things that interest you. If you like cooking then buy an English-language cookbook or find recipes on the net and practice following the recipes. You'll soon know if you have made a mistake!

    Keep something English on you (books, newspapers, cassettes, flash cards) all day and every day, you never know when you might have 5 spare minutes.

    If you are too tired to actively practice just relax and listen to some English pop songs or radio stations.

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