Deciding to learn English as an adult is a brave decision. It’s something that may take a long time and you don’t usually see immediate results. It can take a while to really understand grammar and completely remember new vocabulary. So what do you do to encourage yourself on this journey? Do you find it easy to keep motivated or do you quickly become disappointed and bored?

As an English teacher I often come across students who are running out of energy and enthusiasm. I always come up with the same advice for them. First, be aware of the little voice in your head. How many times to you silently say “English is so difficult, I can’t do it, it’s impossible”? And on the other hand, how often do you silently say “you can definitely do it, it’s only a matter of time, good effort!”? You may be surprised how often you put yourself down.

Remember that learning English is a PROCESS. The only way to improve is to just keep on trying. Keep studying a little every day or a few times a week. Try not to measure your improvement every week or every month as sometimes you simply won’t notice it. I recommend looking back every three months at what you have achieved.

The difference between people who keep on at English, and those who give up , is how they feel after studying. If you look back over your day’s studies and beat yourself up about taking so long to master the present perfect, then you feel negative about English. If you finish studying, and remember that you are one step closer and that one day you will definitely master the present perfect, then you feel positive and motivated. Having taught English for 5 years I can definitely confirm that it only takes time. If you continue studying you will eventually understand EVERYTHING.

So don’t be hard on yourself. Relax, enjoy, study regularly and forget about your progress. Then you will be sure to continue studying and one day achieve your goal! Good luck.

By Abigail White,


Phrasal verbs in this article:

  • come across: meet by chance.
  • run out: they’re starting to lose their enthusiasm. They feel they’re not progressing.
  • come up with: I think of some advice I can give them.
  • put yourself down: criticize yourself. You don’t value the good work you do.
  • keep on: continue
  • look back: do some revision. Trying to remember what you have learnt so far.
  • give up: stop trying. Stop making an effort.
  • beat yourself up: blame yourself.