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Why You Don't Practice English Every Day and How To Fix It

Kevin Naglich
Sales Engineer English Coach

You've been studying English for months or even years. You've maybe taken a class or two, and you listen to a lot of English TV or music.

Yet, for some reason, your progress is slower than you'd like. 

It's still hard to understand native speakers in real life, and sometimes you get stuck in the middle of sentences when you're speaking.  

You really WANT to improve your English and know that you'd get better if you practiced more. Unfortunately, no matter what you've tried, you just can't practice every day. 

You might think, "If only I was less lazy, my English would be better" or "I don't have enough discipline to learn English." 

The thing is, you're not lazy. You don't lack motivation or discipline. 

How do I know? Because the same thing happened to me when I was learning a language. 

In my case, I really wanted to learn Spanish. It was SUPER important to me. I had every intention of practicing every day, but I probably only did it 50% of the time. 

What would happen is that I would have an hour blocked off after work to study. But when the time came, I was just way too exhausted from the day to even think about studying. 

Even on days when I had enough energy, sometimes my plans changed. 

Something random would come up at work, or a friend would call to see if we could go to dinner at the last minute. 

Does it really mean you're lazy if you need a break after a long day of work or school? Does it mean you lack discipline because sometimes things happen outside of your control? 

I don't think so. That got me thinking about what the real problem was. 

I asked myself, what are things that take away my energy? What are the things that change my plans? 

The answer to both was work (or school) and personal obligations.  

I then asked myself, is there a way to schedule my practice when I would always have energy and have more control over my time? 

The answer, of course, was yes. There is a magical time of day full of energy that life can't take from you… the morning, BEFORE you go to work (or school). 

When you practice first thing in the morning, you can't be too exhausted from a long workday. 

When you practice first thing in the morning, it's highly unlikely for your plans to change at the last second. 

After all, the rest of the world is still sleeping or getting ready for their day. 

For me, this meant waking up at 6:30am every day to practice. For you, it might need to be earlier or later, depending on when you start work or school. 

The thing is, I am NOT a morning person. 

I used to stay up till midnight and sleep till around 9. Just the thought of waking up at 6:30 made me sick. 

I thought it would be impossible. It was simply too big of a change. What if it took me a long time to fall asleep? What if I slept poorly? 

Despite all those fears, I couldn't help but think that it was worth a shot. Besides, every night between 9pm and midnight was wasted watching TV. 

If I could transfer even 1 of those hours to the morning and actually be productive, it would be a huge win. 

And guess what? I did it! It wasn't easy, and it took some time, but now I wake up at 6:30am like clockwork, giving me plenty of time before work to study languages. 

Here's how I did it and how you can too. 

First off, I was right. It is hard to control how you feel in the morning. What is easier to control is what time you go to bed.

Decide how much time you want to, or can, devote to English. It should be something challenging, but also not impossible.

Let's use 1 hour as an example. That means step 1 is to start to go to bed 1 hour earlier than you usually do.

At this point, you're only going to bed earlier. You DO NOT have to wake up earlier yet. We're just trying to build a habit.

After you have been going to bed earlier for about a week, your body might be waking up earlier on its own. If not, don't worry. Mine didn't either.

We've started to build a habit of going to bed earlier, and now we need to build the habit of waking up earlier. For that, I recommend a two-step approach.

If we want to wake up 1 hour earlier, start by setting your alarm clock for 30 minutes earlier. Basically, set it for 50% of your goal.

You can still hit snooze and sleep till your normal time, but the point is to get used to the fact that you're going to hear that alarm 30 minutes early.

Try doing this for about a week or until you can consistently wake up 50% of your goal earlier. 

Once you can do this, it's time to set your alarm for 100% of your goal, in this case, a full hour.

After a few days, you'll be surprised that you're actually waking up an hour earlier!

And guess what else? You've now unlocked the secret to practicing every day! 

Now, of course, "life" can still happen. 

You might stay out late at a party, your kids might be sick, you might have a night where you slept poorly and needed some extra time in the morning. 

This is OK! 

We're not going for perfect. If you can wake up earlier most of the time, that's all that matters! 

If you follow these steps, I'm confident that you can practice English in the morning too! If you do, you're WAY more likely to practice every day. If you practice every day, your English will improve much faster.

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