Independent learners must find a systematic way of studying to develop good working practices, if they want to succeed. In such circumstances there is no teacher guiding their path and they need to plan carefully, study periodically (little and often instead of long periods) and set tasks related to their pre-established targets.

Effective Independent learners should be oragnised, motivated, curious, sociable and good at planning.


It’s recommended to have a weekly planner to record personal targets, the action plan which will allow you to reach the results desired and the time you will allocate to each task.

You should keep a record of your regular language input stating the date of the activity, how much time was spent doing this activity and a brief description (i.e.: YouTube video about…, a magazine article about…). This will encourage regular listening and reading activities.

Listening skills Practice

We know that listening skills are the hardest to develop, so special attention should be given to this activity around 15 to 20 minutes daily according to your timetable.

You should: - choose an adequate audio (where 80% of what is said is understood)

  • Listen to the audio
  • Read the transcript and look-up for unfamiliar words
  • Listen again without the transcript
  • And lastly, without the transcript listen again. By then the whole audio should be understood.

Keep a listening record where you write what you listen to, the date and what it is about.

These listening exercises are a good source for new vocabulary, novel grammar structures, as well as an excellent way to improve pronunciation and intonation. Keeping these records up to date are an excellent way to emphasize positive achievements and to assess how close to target you are.

Learning independently does not mean to be all alone

No Need To Fly Solo

Learning independently does not necessarily mean that you’re doing everything on your own. It would be good if you could find some other independent student to work with, either physically or online. This would be profitable for both because there would be some degree of accountability and the possibility of constructive criticism which would benefit both parties. It could be highly advantageous as well to work with a native speaker of your target language keen on studying your mother tongue. It would work both ways,

It is increasingly common to belong to an online community where you can contact people studying your target language. Regular messages can provide encouragement, motivation and it would be an extra opportunity to practice the language.

Motivation makes things happen


It is important to keep the level of motivation high. One way to keep developing your motivation is by establishing short-term targets which are achievable. The more targets set, the greater the sense of achievement.


Another aspect to take into consideration when learning, is to develop an interest in the target language culture. This will fulfil two purposes: first, it will keep you motivated to further your studies of the language, and second, you will be more curious to know more by exploring their books, magazines, TV programs; in one word by immersing yourself in the daily activities of your target country. There are plenty of resources on the internet which can help you achieve this.


To become an effective independent learner, you need to organise and schedule your work, set your goals and plan your tasks accordingly, increase your motivation, belong to a language community and find the right materials to help you succeed.

What other suggestions do you have as an independent learner? Hit the comment button.

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