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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Cohen

How To Apply The Habit Building Loop In Language Learning

Would it be too much if I said you could forget about learning how to speak English fluently and just focus on habit building?

I know this seems counterproductive, but the best way to enhance your ability to speak English confidently and freely is to create new habits around it.

This will give you the tenacity to work on it even when you aren’t motivated to do so. It’s no different than creating the habit of going to the gym. No matter how you feel, you always go because it makes you feel good to complete the workout and get it done. Let's not forget the physical and mental results of working out that make it worth continuing.

When it comes down to building good English-speaking habits, your mind and body have to be connected to the outcome. Building good habits doesn’t happen by googling ‘how to answer how have you been’ one day.

It takes mental and physical drive and consistency.

No matter where you are in your language learning journey, these tips will help you practice good habit-building that will get you closer to your goals.

Understand the Habit Loop

The habit loop is an evidence-based neurological loop that helps you create new habits. There are three parts to the habit loop. The first is the cue. The cue is the subconscious match that lights the fire to your behavior.

The next aspect of the habit loop is routine. The routine is the behavior performed in response to the cue. The more a behavior is carried out, with time it becomes a habit.

The final component of the habit loop is the reward. The reward is the pleasurable feeling or result we get from performing the behavior.

For example, reminding yourself that you need to practice your English is the cue. Sitting down to practice speaking is the routine.

But what happens when you feel like you aren't making progress? How do you keep practicing something when there doesn’t seem to be any reward for it?

We give up or become stagnant and unmotivated in our process.

So, how do we break bad behavior?

Change Your Routine Behavior

If your routine has been to just open your textbook and practice English grammar and vocabulary without any progress, it’s time to build a new habit.

Positive habit-building, in this case, would be finding something that you enjoy about the process and practicing that. If you enjoy watching English shows on Netflix, practice repeating the dialogue from the actors. It’s a fun and creative way to practice the language.

Create Micro-Habits Around Your Goal

If changing your routine behavior doesn’t work, create micro-habits. For example, instead of practicing your English while you're on your way home from work, set an alarm to practice it for 5 minutes at a time. That way, it’s less overwhelming. Once you overcome practicing for 5 minutes at a time, you can add more time. You'll probably want to at that point!

Have Accountability

Accountability is helpful when working towards a goal. Get a friend to check in with you and make sure you are practicing speaking English. Or sign up for a support group like My English Habit. That way, no matter what, you are making progress each day.

Don’t Forget About Negative Reinforcement

Negative reinforcement gives you an unpleasant feeling for something that you’ve done. For example, if your answer is "no" to your friend when they ask if you’ve been practicing, you owe them $5 or have to buy them a coffee. Although negative reinforcement doesn't work with everyone, it's not a bad thing to try as a last resort.

Speaking English fluently takes time and consistent practice. Make sure you are creating new habits that will help you reach your goal.

We Are Here To Help

Need additional help building habits that will help you learn English grammar and vocabulary and get you to speak English confidently?

Check out our My English Habit program that helps you enhance your English skills with an international community and supportive English coaches. All it takes is 5 minutes per day to get started. The more you practice, the more fluent you become.

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