Module 2

Daily Routine

Learn how to have the right daily routine for TOEFL preparation.

In this section, you will learn an easy way to improve your language skills through a simple daily routine. This daily routine is not time consuming and, in fact, can be very interesting. This module will ask you to spend part of your day reading English books or articles and listening to English language content that interests you. This should be a casual task that requires little effort.

Your reading and listening tasks will be separate from your formal studies for the TOEFL exam. This section will discuss how constantly exposing yourself to the English language will greatly improve your score in the exam’s four sections (i.e., reading, listening, speaking, and writing).

  1. What the routine consists of
  2. Passive learning
  3. The theory of implicit learning
  4. How this works
  5. How this program will help you
  6. Implementing this program the easy way

1. What the routine consists of

Although taking practice exams will help boost your grade, you must have good language skills to apply while you practice. For example, in your writing task, your grade will depend on your sentence structure, grammar, and vocabulary. Without good language skills, you won’t be able to successfully complete the exam’s written portion.

Your daily routine consists of two tasks. The first task is to read as much as you can every day. Choose subjects that interest you. Although books are recommended because they contain higher-level vocabulary and grammar, you can read anything else you enjoy, such as magazines and Internet articles. Focus on reading everything in English. For example, if you want to conduct an Internet search, do it in English instead of in your native language.

The second task is to listen to native speakers. Just sit back and listen to something you enjoy. Turn on the news in the morning. In the afternoon, watch informative television programs or online lecture videos. Watch documentaries with your family on the weekend.

2. Passive learning

Make your formal study sessions as effective as possible. Follow an organized process of sitting down at a table with your books, laptop, and other tools (such as agendas, checklists, calendars, etc.). Don’t watch video after video and read pages of TOEFL content without writing the information you learn on a piece of paper (i.e., taking notes). Do everything in a structured manner. These are the basic rules of active learning.

This section, however, focuses on a routine outside your formal TOEFL studying sessions. This routine is considered passive learning. Its goal is to improve your language skills so you can easily communicate using correct grammar and vocabulary.

Experts say the best way to learn a language is to travel to a country whose citizens speak it. This is because you will hear the language spoken throughout the day. However, this theory is difficult to apply in practice. Many students taking the TOEFL don’t live in English-speaking countries. Even if you do, you likely don’t talk outside throughout the day very much. Still, if you’re able to travel to an English-speaking country, you will likely find the experience to be beneficial.

3. The theory of implicit learning

The concepts in this module are based on the theory of implicit learning.

The summarized definition of this theory states that a language should be learned indirectly.

Humans learn best when they are in an environment where they can thrive. An example of this is when people visit foreign countries to learn a new language. When placed in this situation, a person is forced to learn quickly, sometimes without even realizing it.

The same theory can be applied in a different manner. For example, you can place yourself in an environment where you naturally learn the language.

To do this, constantly engage in causal activities you usually carry out in your mother tongue … but this time carry them out in English. The next time you lie in bed with your phone, make sure you’re watching or reading something in English.

This method is successful is because it requires you to learn intuitively – without much effort and consciousness.

4. How this works

This program’s goal is to help you learn the language in the most casual way possible. As mentioned before, you will focus on your listening and reading skills. This will give you more confidence with the language and help you speak and write well.

Again, your goal is to read and listen to as much English as possible. Continue reading this module to understand: (1) how this program will help you and (2) how you’ll be able to implement this program without much effort.

5. How this program will help you

Listening

Easier communication:

To learn how to speak in English, you must listen to those around you. The more you expose yourself to English-language conversations, the more easily you will communicate with others.

Speak confidently:

To learn how to speak in English, you must listen to those around you. The more you expose yourself to English-language conversations, the more easily you will communicate with others.

Understand word usage:

Although reading has its benefits, determining when to use certain words and phrases you read in a book can be difficult. Sometimes you won’t know how to use a certain word or in which context to use it. However, when you listen to another person use it, you will understand the word’s usage and context when you see the speaker’s expressions and intonations.

Improve your accent:

As a beginner, you might have trouble pronouncing certain English words in a proper accent. Although the exam doesn’t require that you have a native speaker’s accent, you should have the clearest accent possible so the examiners can understand what you are saying during the exam’s speaking component. The more you listen to native speakers talk, the clearer your accent will be.

Learning frequently used expressions in English:

In informal conversations, native speakers use idiomatic expressions that typically do not appear in textbooks. Although you won’t need to know these expressions for your TOEFL exam, you must understand some of them because they are essential for communicating with others.

Listen to native speakers:

You might have trouble speaking fluently if you stutter and pause a lot. The best way to organize your thoughts in English and easily construct sentences is to listen to others speak in English. This way, you will learn from their fluency and clarity. This point cannot be stressed enough; you must continually expose yourself to the speech and discourse of native speakers.

Reading

Better writing skills:

Reading improves your writing skills. Before a book is published, it is revised and corrected many times so the reader won’t find mistakes in it. Thus, reading books will guarantee that you encounter correctly constructed sentences. Reading will improve the way you structure your own sentences and grammar. To become a lucid writer, read books by good writers. Seek to learn from their superior language skills.

Entertainment:

For many people, reading is a source of entertainment. If you do not enjoy reading in general, try to make it entertaining by reading something you might enjoy.

Vocabulary expansion:

The more you expose yourself to new words, the better your vocabulary will be. Professionals typically learn new vocabulary by reading. You don’t learn vocabulary at school; you pick it up from written material.

Improve your accent:

As a beginner, you might have trouble pronouncing certain English words in a proper accent. Although the exam doesn’t require that you have a native speaker’s accent, you should have the clearest accent possible so the examiners can understand what you are saying during the exam’s speaking component. The more you listen to native speakers talk, the clearer your accent will be.

Stress reduction:

Stress is the number one problem students face before and during the exam. Scientists have shown that people who read are often calmer than those who don’t. That’s because readers can slip away from life’s stresses and focus on what they are reading. Reading draws your attention away from the environment around you. For example, when you text your friend, you slip away from your immediate surroundings. If someone is talking to you while you’re texting, you usually can’t pay attention to what he/she is saying. The same thing happens when you’re reading.

Enhanced intelligence:

Reading keeps your brain active. To be smart, you must keep your brain active. Intelligent people seem to surround themselves with books. When you read often, you boost your analytical thinking skills. The key to analytical thinking is deep thought, which involves identifying mistakes a person with average intelligence wouldn’t recognize. The more you read, the better you can understand different perspectives. You’ll be in a better position to reason when forming your own opinions.

Stimulate creativity:

When you read a lot, you expose yourself to chunks of information. Chunks combine to form new ideas. The more chunks of information in your brain, the better you become at creating new ideas.

Improve concentration, focus, and memory:

Studies have shown that reading is like a workout for your brain. Some of the “muscles” you build include the focus vision muscles and the muscles connecting the brain’s neurons during associative learning. As you read, your muscles stretch, making your brain sharper and promoting better concentration and focus. When your brain is focused and connected, your memory becomes sharper.

A bonus - Reading and listening both help expand knowledge

For the TOEFL exam, you will need a broad understanding of current affairs and general knowledge of the environment around you. Learn about different subjects and fields of study, even if they don’t interest you. Including this practice in your daily routine will improve your performance on the speaking and writing tasks. Not only will you be able to elaborate more on your written tasks, you’ll be able to compare, identify, and interpret the reading passage so that you exceed the examiner’s expectations.

Implementing this program the easy way

Using social media to watch videos

Facebook relies primarily on shared content in video form. All content uploaded onto the pages you follow will appear on your own homepage. This means once you follow a page on Facebook, you won’t have to look for that content – it will appear automatically on your main page.

Most people know how to use Facebook. It’s an important asset for those who want to learn English. That’s because most Facebook pages are in English and cover a variety of subjects. You can follow many pages, with topics ranging from technology to cooking to reality shows.

A similar thing happens when you subscribe to a YouTube channel. Any time the YouTuber creates and uploads a video, you will receive notifications on your mobile phone, and sometimes by email. You likely have a smartphone; if you do, download YouTube onto it. Then, whenever you subscribe to a channel, your notification bar (the area where you scroll up/down to look at messages or application updates) will inform you about updates.

 

The main advantage of using Facebook and YouTube to learn English is that you don’t have to make an effort. When you sit in bed or take a break at work, avoid watching videos/articles in your native language; otherwise, you won’t benefit from learning English intuitively.

While Facebook and YouTube are two popular platforms to start with, you don’t have to limit yourself to them. If you prefer to use other platforms, choose those that suit you best. However, we recommend Facebook and YouTube because the content comes to you; you don’t have to search for it.

Following are Facebook and YouTube pages you might want to follow/subscribe to:

YouTube:

  • Ted-Ed
  • G.P. Grey
  • Smarter Every Day
  • Crash Course
  • ASAP Science
  • Discovery Channel

Facebook:

  • Learn English
  • BBC Learning English
  • VOA Learning English
  • Practice English Everyday
  • NASA
  • News from Science
  • Stuff You Missed in History Class
  • Futurism
  • World Economic Forum
  • Hisham
  • Smarter Every Day
  • Big Think
  • 9Gag

Watching documentaries

Watching documentaries is another casual task you can carry out in your spare time. To improve your English, watch as many documentaries as you can.

When you watch documentaries and academic television programs in English, you learn a wide variety of words. Thus, you improve your vocabulary. Keep in mind that fiction movies tend to use poor vocabulary and slang language.

Be sure to watch the documentaries without subtitles. You can find a good selection of documentaries on topdocumentaryfilms.com and YouTube.

Signing up for free online courses

The internet is full of free content. However, instead of using it and understanding its worth, we take it for granted. Some of the most valuable content on the internet comes in the form of free courses developed by the world’s most prestigious universities.

Two websites in particular offer a wide selection of university lectures: Coursera and edx.org. There, you can access lectures from schools such as Harvard, MIT, Stanford, etc.

If a field of specialization interests you, look for places where you can access lectures about it. This will not only improve your listening skills for the TOEFL exam but also help you in your eventual career.

Listening to podcasts

Listening to English podcasts is one of the best ways to learn English. Podcasts “intentionally” expose you to new vocabulary words. They offer an intuitive way of learning, as you aren’t forcing yourself to memorize anything. You can learn very quickly this way. Most podcast websites produce new content daily.

Following is a list of websites that offer podcasts:

  • eslpod.com
  • englishacrossthepond.com
  • npr.org
  • podcastsinenglish
  • learningenglish.voanews.com
  • esl.culips.com

Downloading a news app – read the articles and watch the news

Most of us are up to date with what’s happening around the world, whether through social media, family, friends, or coworkers. An interest in the news can help improve your English skills, including your vocabulary and grammar. Be sure to watch videos (live stream/recorded) and read articles. You might find the language a bit challenging at first but you’ll get used to it. Once you start university, you’ll learn more quickly because most teachers at the university level use advanced vocabulary.

Remember, your goal is to gain as much exposure as you can to the English language.

BEGINNERS – THOSE WHO FIND ENGLISH DIFFICULT

  • ESLPod (listening) – An ESL website that lets learners familiarize themselves with the speech of native speakers.
  • VOA Learning English (reading and listening) – Another ESL website that allows learners to familiarize themselves with the speech of native speakers. It is a news website that targets beginning ESL learners; it uses basic language that is not too difficult to understand.
  • Listen a Minute (listening) – A site that offers a wide range of reading material you can listen to for free. It also offers interactive activities to improve your English.

INTERMEDIATE/ADVANCED 

Business

  • BBC – Business
  • NPR – Business
  • VOA News – Economy and Business
  • The Economist

Science, Health, and the Environment

  • NPR – Science
  • BBC – Nature
  • BBC – Science and Environment
  • BBC – Health
  • VOA News – Science and Technology
  • VOA News – Environment
  • VOA News – Health
  • http://www.astronomy.com

Arts, Entertainment, and History:

  • BBC – Entertainment and Arts
  • BBC – History
  • NPR – Arts