So your dream is to improve your English. But how many times have you failed?
You have spent a lot of time dreaming, thinking or talking about what you want. But you haven’t taken the necessary steps to achieve it.
It’s not because you are lazy or incapable. It’s because perhaps you are confused or you don’t know where to start. You don’t have a PLAN yet.
English learning plans, can serve as a roadmap or guide to making your dreams a reality.
An English learning plan can help you if:
You are confused
You feel that your learning progress is out of control
You feel your learning progress is stagnant
You struggle making the right decisions
You feel lost and lack direction
You have tried many things and nothing has helped
You are tired and want to give up
What is an English learning planing?
An English learning plan is both a roadmap and a reminder of your goals. It helps you realize your dreams and the things that you need to do to make them true.
An English learning plan can help you to become aware of your strengths and your weaknesses.
Your English learning plan doesn’t need to be super detailed. It should be flexible so you can adapt it according to the circumstances.
Don’t forget that LIFE IS UNPREDICTABLE. Things happen. Your plan needs to leave room for unexpected changes and crises.
Making English learning plans can help you achieve your goals easier than if you are confused and have no idea what to do.
5 benefits of having an English learning plan
1 An English learning plan helps you make your dreams a reality
An English learning plan gives you the confidence to take action and be proactive.
2 An English learning plan helps you prioritize
Making an English learning plan helps you identify what you want and focus on things that move you in the right direction
3 An English learning plan helps you make better decisions
When you know your goals it is easier to make the right decisions that help you accomplish your goals
4 An English learning plan keeps you motivated
When you write down your goals it’s easier to stay focused and motivated.
5 An English learning plan makes you recognize your strengths and weaknesses
An English learning plan is a tool that makes you think critically and reflect on your learning needs. It helps you identify the skills that you master and the skills you need to improve to achieve your goals.
How to make an English learning plan: step by step
1. The most important thing to making any plan is, to BE HONEST with yourself.
2. Take a moment to reflect on your habits, your learning story, your circumstances, your strengths, and your weaknesses.
3. No one but you can identify the things that are easy for you and the things that are challenging for you.
4. You are the only one that can identify the things/ habits/ beliefs that are preventing you from moving forward.
5. Finally, remember that becoming fluent in English is a goal that will require that you spend a lot of time and resources. If you are not willing to pay the price then it will always be a DREAM.
6. If you are not willing to organize your life, give up unhealthy habits or if you can’t change your lifestyle to accommodate time to practice, then it’s going to be very difficult to improve your English.
Now it’s time to make your own learning plan
Below you can see a template that will help you reflect and create your own English learning plan.
Formal emails are the ones that people write to people they don’t know well. The language used in these types of emails is more formal and polite.
friends family members people we know well
people we don’t know bosses or managers doctors, teachers and professors
Formal emails have a standard format, so they must include the following parts:
We say hi to the other person. Depending on the kind of relationship we have with the person we are writing to, we can use the following greetings:
Dear Mr./Mrs./ Ms. + Last name,
For example: Dear Mr. Smith,
Dear Sir/ Madam,
If you don’t know the name and last name of the recipient
To whom it may concern
This is a more generic formulaic expression.
In this part, we must indicate briefly and clearly the reason for writing. It should be consistent with the subject of the email. We can use the following introductory phrases:
I’m writing with regard to … (email subject)
I’m writing to … (ask, inform, request, send, confirm, etc)
I’m writing in reference to … (email subject, e.g. a job post, an advertisement, a website, etc)
There are no formulaic expressions or conventional formulas for the body of the text because the information that we share in the body of the email varies according to what you need to communicate.
There is one general rule for this part: it should be divided into short paragraphs.
4. Closing paragraph
There are various ways to end your email. The most common formulaic expressions are the following:
I look forward to hearing from you soon / at your earliest convenient time.
Thank you in advance.
Thank you for your attention.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
For further information, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Please let me know if you have any questions.
Here you can find a list of the most common phrases to end a formal email:
Yours faithfully, (only if you began your email with ‘Dear Sir/Madam’)
Yours sincerely, (only if began your email with ‘Dear Mr./Mrs./ Ms. + Last name)
We write our full name (name + last name)
Now that you know which parts should be included in a formal email, let’s see an example:
Ana has read an ad about some English courses on a school website.
She is 23 years old. She has graduated from college.
She wants to take an IELTS course in July.
She needs to get information about dates and prices.
She wants to stay with a host family.
She wants a room for her and her friend.
Come and study English at our school! Summer and winter intensive courses Highly experienced teachers One month courses for all levels Reasonable prices Accommodation with host families
Pro tips for writing formal emails
Use the standard format that English speakers use to write formal emails.
Use formulaic expressions.
DO NOT use contractions (I’m, I’ve, I’d, don’t, can’t, won’t, etc.).
Use formal words and indirect questions (e.g. I was wondering if …/ I would be grateful if you …)
Don’t forget to START your email by saying why are you writing or what you are
Time to practice
The best way to improve your writing is to practice. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Remember that practice makes progress.
Write an email to get more information about the following course:
Computer courses in Canada One -or two-week courses in different parts of Canada (Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, and Halifax) Professional instructors Morning and afternoon classes All levels, beginners to advanced Small groups or private lessons
For more information email Robert Anderson at email@example.com
Don’t forget to explain why you are writing and give some personal information
Ask your questions, and ask them to send you information
Although, though, even though, in spite of, and despite are words that help us connect contrasting ideas clearly and fluently. We use them to introduce a clause in a sentence which is in contrast to another clause in the same sentence.
You already know how to use basic connectors such as so and but. In the example below, but is a contrast connector.
Now, it’s time to learn other connectors that help us communicate more complex ideas.
NOTE: A dependent clause is NOT a full sentence. It is a phrase (group of words) that is incomplete, in other words, it is an incomplete thought. We need to complete the idea by using a connector and an independent clause.
An independent clause is a phrase that contains a subject and verb and expresses a complete thought.
Time to practice
The best way to improve your English is by practicing. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Remember that practice makes progress.
In some English exams you have to speak or write about photos or pictures.
Here is a list of useful vocabulary and expressions for describing pictures or photos for oral/written exams.
What is there in the picture? (people, things, animals, places, etc)
In the picture I can see … There is a/ an +(adjective)+ singular noun There are (a couple/some/ a lot of) + (adjective) + plural noun There isn’t a + (adjective) + singular noun There aren’t any + (adjective) + plural noun
What is happening? (actions & weather) For actions use present continuous
Theperson/ animalis +verb-ing The people are + verb-ing It’s raining/ snowing, etc. It’s bright/ dark/ sunny/ cold/ hot, etc.
What might be happening? (If something in the picture is not clear you can make a guess)
It looks like a + noun It looks as if + person/animal + verb … It looks as though + persona/animal + verb … It seems that person/animal is … Maybe the person/animal is + verb-ing The person/animal might be +verb-ing
What could have happened before? (You can use your imagination and make a guess about the actions that happened before the picture was taken)
The person/animal might have + past participle … The person/animal may have + past participle … The person/animal could have + past participle … The person/animal couldn’t have + past participle …
Where in the picture? (location/ position)
At the top/bottom of the picture … In the foreground … In the background …. In the middle/ center of the picture … On the left/right of the picture … next to in front of across from behind near on top of under
Now that you know the vocabulary and phrases that should be included in picture description, let’s see an example:
I think this is a family photo. There are five people, and all of them are smiling. They are having lunch in the dining room. The dining room is so bright and modern. In the background, we see the kitchen and some appliances. For example, a microwave and a coffee maker.
In the foreground we see the mother sitting at the head of the table. It seems that she is taking a selfie. Her children are sitting around the table. On the left side of the photo, there is a boy and a girl. The girl is smiling. The boy has his mouth open, and he looks as if he is going to eat the whole spaghetti.
There are two teenagers sitting across from the children. The young man is smiling, and the young woman is posing for the photo. The young man has his arm around the young woman.
There are five plates with spaghetti, three glasses of orange juice, and two glasses of red wine on the table. There might be some bread in the middle of the table. The food looks very delicious.
They might be having a video call with the father. The father could have travelled for work to a different city. It looks as though they are having a good time. This photo reminds me of when I was younger, and I used to have lunch with my family every Sunday.
The best way to improve your writing and speaking is to practice. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Remember that practice makes progress.
Choose ONE picture and describe it.
What can you see in the picture? Write your answer in the comments below