6 tips to help you know you're improving


| - Tim Lake |

6 tips to understand improvement

When learning anything, from English to rock climbing, it can become increasingly hard to measure your progress and see that you are improving. You feel stuck. This can be immensely frustrating and de-motivating. With English language learners it tends to be more of a problem with upper-intermediate and advanced learners, who have already achieved a high level of language competency. It needn’t be - armed with a bit of knowledge and a few tips we can help you see your continued growth. So here are 6 tips to help you know you’re improving.




1.) Understand the learning curve.
The learning curve was first observed by German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus in the 19th Century. It basically shows that in the early stage of learning something it is quite easy to gain a lot of knowledge in a short space of time, but as time goes by it takes more time and more effort to get better in increasingly smaller steps. This is not all that surprising, but it is helpful to be aware that the rate of improvement will slow over time, although never stop if worked at properly. You saw yourself improving a lot in the early stage of learning the basics, but it gets harder to see when you deal with the finer points and smaller details.

1.) 学習曲線を理解する

learning curve


2.) Know your weak points.
When you are a complete beginner you don’t know anything, so learning anything and everything will help you improve. However as we get more competent at something it becomes harder to see what we don’t know, we don’t know where the holes in our knowledge are, but finding those weak points is the key to improving. It gives us something specific to work on and then we can measure the difference. In fact many people stop improving because they don’t know what to work on. One way to overcome this is to challenge yourself and push what you can do. It becomes very easy to stick to topics and patterns that you are comfortable with, so challenge yourself to do something out of your comfort zone. That way you can find what points you struggle with. Another idea to find your weak points as a language learner is to write out things you want to say. In writing you can more clearly see your weak points that are often overlooked when speaking.

2.) 自分の弱点を知る:


3.) Have a specific goal in mind.
How can you know you’re improving if you are not aiming for anything specific? If you have a clear goal or vision of what you want to achieve with English, or who you want to be as an English speaker, it is easier to measure your progress towards that goal. Use small goals, and break big ones down into small parts.

具体的な目標なしに、上達を感じることは難しいでしょう。英語で何を達成したいのか、英語話者としてどうなりたいのか、明確なゴールやビジョンを持っていれば、上達を測りやすくなります。 小さな目標を立てましょう。大きな目標を細分化してみましょう。

Possible targets for you to work towards are:

1. Memorizing new words in an area you are interested in. 興味のある分野の単語を覚える
2. Fixing a particular mistake you often make. 日頃からよくやってしまうミスを改善する
3. Aiming to get a better test score. テストでもっと高いスコアを狙う
4.Increasing your English reading speed. 英語の文章を読むスピードを上げる。


4.) Do regular benchmarks.
We are not particular fans of the TOEIC or Eiken test, for reasons we’ll explain another time, but they can provide a possible way to measure your improvement as well as give you a goal to aim at. However! You must actually focus on improving your English, not improving on how to take the test! Another way to benchmark your level is to use the Vocabulary Size Test (you can take it for free here). This roughly measures the size of your vocabulary, how many words you know. English has a large vocabulary and for more advanced learners building a varied vocabulary is one of the best things to focus on, therefore it is a useful measure of progress.

4.) 評価基準を設ける:


5.) Learn something else.
Learning through English can give you motivation and a sense of improvement. Okay, this doesn’t exactly fix the problem directly, but rather than learning more about the subtleties and vagaries of English, you can use English to learn something else. Focus on topics and things you enjoy. This will help you give you a positive feeling that you are learning something - which is part of the problem - and actually you will be improving your English too, not least because you will be improving your vocabulary as mentioned in the previous point.

5.) 他の何かを学ぶ:


6.) Get a coach.
All great performers and learners don’t achieve anything alone they always have other people to push and help them. A good coach or teacher will help you identify the particular areas you have trouble with and give you some specific things to work on to improve. They can also help you set goals. Moreover paying attention to the specific corrections you are given in a lesson is important. Some students don’t like to be corrected or repeat a corrected sentence, but one of the keys to improving is accepting your weak points and then practice, practice, practice. It’s a cliche, but true.



So there you go, 6 ideas to help you know you are improving. Although we are talking mostly about applying these to learning English, all these points are true for learning just about anything. Let us know which ones help you and if you have any other ideas, please tell us. We would love to hear them.

自分の上達度合いを知るための6つのヒントをお送りしました。主に英語学習についてをお話しましたが、これらは何を学ぶにしても当てはまることです。 役に立ったアイディアや、もっと良い案があればぜひ教えてください。みなさんの考えも聞きたいと思っています。