Self-Study Tips for Students!

posted in: Uncategorized | 9

bird on branch with text_116777686Do you get the impression that some of your students don’t do a tap of self-study outside the classroom, relying solely on your expertise and brain transmitting powers to get them to where they want/need to be?Do they then wonder why they’re not progressing while they watch their classmates move to a higher level before them?

I’m not sure if its indolence or whether students genuinely don’t know how to study – maybe it’s a bit of both!

Below are some useful tips that you can give them or hang up on your classroom noticeboard to help them self-study and take charge of their own learning to become autonomous learners outside the classroom.

Empower your students to use their time effectively to take responsibility and ownership of their learning and not depend too heavily on you as a teacher to wave your magic progress wand!

Tips to Help Students Self-Study


  1. Talk to Yourself!

    You might look crazy if you do this in public but when you’re alone and doing daily tasks. Say to yourself ‘I’m having a shower’ or ‘I’m making breakfast’.  When looking out the window, tell yourself what you see. ‘I see a woman cycling with her son.’  It helps you to think in English and be more spontaneous with your language.  If you can’t think of a word, find another way to say it, use different language and later you can check your dictionary for the word you needed and use it next time.

  2. Vocabulary Notebook

    Keep a small notebook with you at all times and record new vocabulary that you meet during the day. Write full
    expressions and phrases, e.g. write ‘afraid of’ and not only ‘afraid’, write ‘to make a mistake’ and not only ‘mistake’.  Revise your vocabulary regularly and try to use the language
    in class or with people you meet.

  3. Short Videos

    Watch online videos on topics that you’re interested in. If you play tennis, watch a video with tips and techniques on how to improve your game or watch TED talks without the script, just listening and then afterwards watch it again with the script.  Do it again and again until you’re comfortable that you understand the main ideas. (You don’t have to understand every word)

  4. Read, Read, Read! (and Speak)

    If books in English are too difficult at first, start with blogs. Find a blog on a topic you enjoy and start reading something short every day.  Why not start a ‘blog club’ with your friends.  Meet once a week and tell them about an interesting blog post you have read and have a discussion about the topic.  Bring some new words/phrases with you to share with the others so that they can start using them too!


  5. Podcasts!

    When you’re out walking, listen to a podcast on a topic you’re interested in.  Don’t worry that you don’t know every word.  Focus on getting an understanding of the overall meaning.  Listening will also help you with your pronunciation and you’ll be surprised how much you actually pick up from exposing yourself to the language as much as possible.


Do you have any more self-study tips that you give your students? 


9 Responses

  1. Nadine Early

    Record, transcribe, improve!
    Use your phone to record yourself speaking for one minute. You can do this alone, (tell yourself a story – the plot of a film you recently watched, or the story of last night’s dream) or with a friend, (choose a topic of interest to you both and discuss it, or plan a night out together).
    Now for the boring part – listen back to your recording and write down exactly, word-for-word, what you said (even your errors!).
    Next, read the transcription of your story or conversation and work to improve it. Firstly correct any errors you notice. Then think about how you can improve it – ask yourself the following questions:
    Do I use the same words over and over again? Can I use a better range of vocabulary?
    Can I make it more descriptive by adding some adjectives and/or adverbs?
    Do I tend to use simple grammar when I speak? Can I use some more complex forms?
    Can I signpost it better for a listener by using more discourse markers?
    How is my pronunciation? Do I sound clear?
    How is my fluency? Do I hesitate a lot and for a long time?
    Once you have improved your piece, why not make a new recording of yourself – to compare the ‘before-and-after’?

    • I couldn’t agree more, Nadine. I wrote a review for an app that works on Android but not yet with iPhones called Mic Note ( ) suggesting a similar procedure:

      I said:
      Useful for language learners
      Record yourself speaking spontaneously and then make a transcript of what you have said. Calculate your speed in wpm (words per minute) and then try to identify some errors in grammar, vocabulary or pronunciation. It may help to share your work with your fellow-students or a teacher or someone else who speaks the language. When you listen to or read your own work later you can identify errors you have learnt from.

      The app makes it much easier to make a transcript as it has a 10-second back button. It doesn’t count the number of words, but you can do that in Word or Google Docs.

      I agree absolutely with everything you say, Nadine!

  2. Sandra Granger

    My new beginner students in Nepal (SKYPE) told me they liked volleyball. I asked them to yell out their new vocabulary as they hit the ball over the net when playing. Hit that ball, “Hello”!! They can practice pronouncing the words, their classmates hear the word!! Could do something similar in any group activity.

    • That’s a pretty good tip, Sandra! The idea of modifying hobby and education is one of the best because it involves student’s genuine interest and the act of getting to know something new and practicing it. The brain is more likely to remember the things during such a process and also associations are working quite efficient.

  3. Think you very much for the anfromtion

  4. Hi Aoife,

    Just to let you know that we’ve shortlisted this blog post for this month’s TeachingEnglish blog award and I’ll be putting up a post about it on today’s TeachingEnglish Facebook page, if you’d like to check there for likes and comments.


  5. Nan Thin Thin Aye

    Your suggestion is good but I need to practice with simple words.

  6. Hello, my tip is to make it fun! – perhaps find a new word and see how many times you can fit it into conversations in a day/week 🙂

Leave a Reply