My Bad Habits

My Bad Habits

So we’re into the swing of things in the new year and hopefully those new year’s resolutions haven’t fallen by the wayside. I managed to cut out the beer for two weeks before lowering my guard and succumbing to a night out and I know why this happened, I hadn’t replaced the need for social company (involving drinking beer) with something else. Having a break from beer through January was the goal and I will continue to not drink for the remaining week and a half but I must find a substitute habit to fill the void. It’s not all doom and gloom though oh no!

As a new feature to my blog you can click on the bold words to go to vocabulary logowhere I have created a page with a definition and an example sentence for each word. There is also audio pronunciation and a practice spelling bee!  Idioms and phrases in italic are also linked to a definition.

The Good News

I have however, kept up the smaller task of running once a week and this is down to (because of) my ingenious plan of starting a running group. Not only does this create the regular habit of running every Wednesday (Anyone living near Rynholec is welcome to join us!) but it adds to it a support structure of other like-minded people and it’s much more fun than running on my own.

running legs

I am motivated by the social aspect as well as the fitness. Starting something is always harder than doing it once you’ve got going and is why so many of us procrastinate about so many things. Starting the group from my house means I have to be prepared as other people are now counting on me.

Furthermore, I have been running on my own at least twice in each of the last three weeks because of this new found enthusiasm and the will to be fit enough to run with other people.

How to Change Your Habits

In his book, ‘The Power of Habit’ Charles Duhigg talks about the habit loop. Put simply this is a three part process; 1. The Cue, 2. The Routine, 3. The Reward.

cue routine reward

The cue is the thing that triggers the feeling of need, if you’re a smoker that might be the smell of a cigarette, the sight of one on TV or it’s 11.15 and time for your break. The routine is the habit you want to change, in this case, reaching for the cigarettes. The reward is the little high you get from the nicotine and a chance to socialize out of the office. Identifying the reward is the key. If you like the social aspect of standing outside smoking you could substitute that routine with a walk (around the office or outside) a chat with a colleague or friend on the phone. If you think ahead and plan for it, when you get the cue you can substiute the routine with anything else that also gives you a similar reward; 30 press-ups, 5 mins of internet surfing, making a coffee etc.

Your English Habits

So, in terms of your English learning resolutions, have you developed any habits to help you along the way? If you want to learn quickly then you simply must develop the habit of regular and continuing practice.

How can you develop the habits that will help you to learn regularly, frequently and effectively? Here are a few ideas…

dictionaryPut a dictionary (yes, it’s old school I know!) next to your bed. Every morning when you wake up, randomly open the book and pick out a word. Create a mnemonic (See my recent post) for it such as a visual image or word association hook and then go about your normal day.

Richard Hhill English

Start your own conversation group with friends, the same day and time every week.


Choose a time when you are always free and set an alarm to spend 5 minutes learning something new.

metro logo.pngListen to an English podcast when commuting on the metro or in your car.

Share your own ideas with us here in the comments below and help others to improve their English quicker too. Remember, I read all your comments.


Happy New You.

Happy New You.

Happy New Year to you and your loved ones. I hope you had as relaxing a Christmas as I did, or at least enjoyed eating all the food you spent so long slaving over!

My Christmas was a strange one for me as it was the first time in my life that I didn’t see any of my relatives over the Christmas period. We didn’t have a totally Czech Christmas though as Father Christmas (Santa Claus) visited our house on the night of the 24th/25th and we cooked pigs-in-blankets_11_4a traditional English Christmas dinner which we took and ate at Radka’s father’s house. I know most English people have Turkey at Christmas but that became a tradition with the arrival of American soldiers during the second world war, before that any bird would do; chicken, goose, pheasant, turkey or duck. Radka’s father cooked a duck and we did the vegetables – carrots, parsnips, leaks in white sauce, as well as my favourite ‘pigs in blankets’ (sausages wrapped in bacon and roasted in the oven). Anyway, enough of that, it’s making me hungry.

So it’s that time of year when everyone makes hugely unrealistic New Year’s Resolutions; the promises you make to yourself about how to improve your life over the next 12 months. So hands up who has joined a gym? Given up smoking? Stopped drinking alcohol? Coffee? Decided to eat healthier or go running? Have you bought a new bicycle with the intention to start cycling? You get the picture.

Dog riding bikeI have never stuck to mine, EVER! I’m pretty sure (quite sure) that’s down to my habits but that’s another topic for another day. This year I have decided to keep it simple, so instead of giving myself the unrealistic target of running three times a week (which I would like to do) I will run just once a week and it’s in my diary because if it’s not in my diary it won’t get done! I will be better organized this year and have timetabled a space every week to plan the following week and look at the month ahead. This might sound obvious and very normal to you but to someone as spontaneous as me it has always seemed like a spoiler, a curtailment of my enthusiasm for the unexpected surprises of life.

Have you made any New Year’s Resolutions? Leave a comment below and share your commitments with me, it’s easier to keep your promises when you tell someone else!

So what can you look forward to from me in 2016?

My continuing support of your English learning will be enhanced with the offering of some one-day and weekend Masterclasses in specific areas and themes of English, I’m working on a free e-book to help you with the Present Perfect Tense, I’ve started writing my first book and of course I will continue to write you beautiful emails with tips and explanations. There’s also an idea forming in my mind for a V.I.P. Text and email service. Oh! and look out at the end of the year for my new 2017 calendar which will help you develop the habit of ‘little and often’, improving your English everyday.

So I wish you all the best for 2016 and hope it brings you all the happiness and love you deserve and keep working on your English. Don’t forget to leave me your New Year’s Resolutions below in the comments. I read them all, I promise.