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Which Skills Do You Need to Improve

When you decide to start studying English on your own, it can be very challenging to know what to focus on to help you to continue to improve. This guide will help you create a study plan to organize and prioritize the skills you want to improve so that you can learn faster than learning in a classroom!

It can be overwhelming to try to improve all of your skills at the same time. With this plan you are only going to focus on 3 skills so that you will see improvement after a month of completing your study plan. Start by deciding on 3 skills you want to improve the most.

Here’s a list of ideas:

  • Speaking
  • Listening
  • Vocabulary
  • Writing
  • Pronunciation
  • Speaking Fluency
  • Speaking Faster
  • Comprehending Fast English
  • Sounding More ‘Native’ or Natural when speaking

customer service agent speak fluently

Real Life Example:

Sara wants to feel more confident communicating in English for her
job. She has to talk to clients over the phone and some of them are English speaking.

The 3 skills Sara is going to focus on this month for her study plan are:

  1. Speaking Fluency
  2. Listening Comprehension
  3. Using New Vocabulary

Get a Copy of Sara’s Study Plan Here

See how Sara will improve her:

  • speaking fluency
  • listening comprehension
  • vocabulary



Finding techniques and resources

Now that you know which skills you want to improve, you need to find techniques and resources that will help you to use and develop the skills. Be creative with ideas to practice using each skill. We will continue using the example with Sara:

Skill #1: Speaking Fluency Strategy and Activity

Sara needs to find a technique or activity to practice her speaking fluency. She is able to write well, but she is not happy with her ability to speak without pausing to think.

She decides to try a speaking fluency technique that she found on our website at Real English Conversations. The activity suggests that you find a story, video or audio to study then you try speaking out loud about it. The fluency key, is repeating your answer at least 3 times. You can read the full article that explains the speaking fluency exercise here.

Sara likes to watch videos on you tube so she finds an interesting channel with ‘Top 10’ videos like the one below.  She will pause the video after each segment and try to explain what the video was talking about 3 times. She will also use the speaking practice questions that are part of the Premium Membership on our website.

Skill #2: Listening Comprehension ActivityEnglish listening skills thumb

To practice listening comprehension, she needs to have transcriptions with audio or videos with subtitles. She will use the transcriptions from the conversations we have available. Every time she cannot understand the audio perfectly, she will rewind it and listen again. Sara identified her problems with listening in this article about how to improve listening skills.

Skill #3: Vocabulary Building

Sara took English classes for many years and she knows that the vocabulary she learned is different than what American English speakers use in everyday life. She will be studying the transcriptions from our Real English Conversation lesson to find everyday vocabulary and to look for phrases that are used to pause while thinking.

Measure your starting level

In order to know if you have improved, it is important to take note of your current ability with each skill. This is also helpful to keep you motivated

Do an activity or a lesson that uses each skill that you will be trying to improve. Do the activity and make notes about what was difficult for you and where you would like to improve.

If your goal is to improve your speaking fluency, you can record a 2-5 minute audio or video recording of yourself trying to explain something, perhaps the reason why you need to improve your speaking fluency.

Get a Copy of Sara’s Study Plan Here

See how Sara will improve her:

  • speaking fluency
  • listening comprehension
  • vocabulary



Make a weekly plan to do the work you need to do

scheudle for your study plan

Now you know the skills you will be focusing on and which activities you can do to improve the skills. Next, you need to prioritize the skills. Choose the skill that needs to improve the most out of the 3 skills, then choose the second most important skill to improve. Of course, the 3rd skill is the lower priority.

If you have very little time to study each week, less than 3 hours, I recommend only focusing on 2 skills. Whenever possible, do activities that use both skills in the practice activities.

Think about your schedule and how many hours per week you can commit to studying and practicing English. Fill out a weekly schedule to follow which activity you will practice on each day.

This is how you should split your time in the study plan:

  • 40% on the main skill to improve
  • 30% on the second skill
  • 20% on the third skill
  • 10% on grammar

Enter the activities into your calendar with the activities  and the time you will spend doing each activity into the calendar. Obviously, you should schedule more activities that focus on the main skill you want to improve. If possible do activities that use multiple skills at the same time.

Only study one grammar point per week. Learning grammar in small parts will not help with speaking and listening fluency but it is important to slowly learn new grammar tips to help you speak properly.

Measure your resultsprogress with the study plan

After one month of doing the exercises and activities to help you improve certain skills, it is time to measure your results.

Do the same lesson or activities that you did at the beginning of the month to test your starting level. If you recorded a video or audio to measure you speaking fluency, you need to record another audio or video talking about the same topic.

Think about each activity and if it felt easier or harder. Compare your speaking to see if you think you have improved.

Make your plan for the next month

You should be able to see some progress with your skills. Now you will know which activities you like and which ones you don’t. More importantly, you will know which activities were the most helpful versus the ones that did not seem to improve your language skills.

Follow the steps in this plan again, where you decide which skills you want to improve and do it again. After one or two months, the skill you feel you need to improve the most might be better than another skill. As you make progress in the language, you can expect that the skills you need to improve will change and the activities you need to do will become harder or will require a more detailed answer.

Leave me a comment below to say which 3 skills you want to improve this month! If you need some ideas about what to study, I will respond to your comment. Please share this article if you think it will help someone else 🙂