Today the Financial Times discusses the idea of being stuck in a rut.
If you’re in a rut, it’s a situation that is boring or making you feel dissatisfied or unchallenged, but it is difficult to change.
The phrase comes from the word rut, which is the deep mark your car tyres leave on the ground in the snow.
Phrases you can say
Ever since I didn’t get that promotion at work, I’ve been stuck in a rut.
If you’re in a rut, you should do something to change things.
Look, you’ve got to get out of this rut, Bill.
The relationship with Margaret’s just not working. Along with everything else, it’s just keeping me in this rut.
What to do if you’re in a learning rut
Do you feel you’re going through the motions with learning English? Perhaps you’re doing the same thing each week, possibly making progress but you don’t feel it. It’s time to step forward and change things!
1. Do something new
If you’re always doing grammar exercises, then put the book down and catch a British film, see a play in English, watch your favourite song on Youtube with the lyrics. If you’re always just having a conversation class, then perhaps sit down and read. Study a little. Whatever it is that you’re doing a lot of, change the mix a little and try new things.
2. Ramp up your English hours
Learning a language is about putting in a few vital ingredients: TIME + GOOD PRACTICE + DEDICATION = Progress
If you’re attending one or two lessons a week, and you feel you’re not making the kind of progress you’d like to make, try one month of dedicating more time to your English. So on top of your regular lessons, join an English club, double the time you spend reading, do more homework, do a language exchange. Suddenly the 3 hours you were doing can become 6.
3. Instead of worrying about what you don’t know, review the things you’ve already done and do know
Give yourself the gift of satisfaction. Go over the notes from class last week or check the vocabulary you highlighted in the book you’ve been reading. Review your work and what you’ve done – getting more comfortable with the words you already know will help you get more comfortable producing this language in real interactions.
4. Keep things real
Instead of answering a question from your coursebook, try the real world. Write your Facebook updates in English, write to your Canadian friends, leave comments on the blogs and news sites that you read. I especially recommend being interactive in the language, so after you’ve read something, react to it. What do you think?! Take 10 minutes and draft your reply, and then press ‘send’. Using English in the real world will help you get you out of your rut as it’s all for real.
5. Do what you enjoy and what you need – and cut out the rest for now
Do you know what you need or what you want to do with English? If you’re finding your grammar book really boring, then put it down. It might not be helping you right now. You can always come back to it later. Instead, look for what can directly solve your problem. For example, if you want to find out more about what’s happening in the economy, then read the finance pages of the newspaper. That’s going to help you more. If you’re an art or wine lover, then instead of reading your local magazine, pick up one in English. If you want tips on which shares to buy, then find the answer in English. Switch from doing things in your own language to doing them in English, and match what you need with what you’re doing.
What else can you do to get out of a learning rut? Please leave your ideas below!