How to learn English when you have a busy schedule


How can you learn English when you have a full-time job, little children and a little bit of a social life? In his winning blog, English Online student, Guillermo Cepeda Romero, gives you tips on how to fit learning English into a busy schedule! 

Finding enough time to learn English can be challenging, but it’s by no means impossible.

This is how I fit learning English into my daily life and… who knows? You might get inspired to do the same.

Where there is a will, there is a way! I love this idiom (among many others) and it fits like a glove in this context (double idiom use. Can I have a round of applause?). We all know how stressful and challenging life can be: waking up early, commuting to work, picking up the kids from school and so on.  Who has any energy left for learning English? 

But, from one learner to another, there are always ways to find time to learn in an enjoyable fashion.

One of the things I am most passionate about is reading.

I have a soft spot for sci-fi literature in particular, so I combine both passions. Asimov’s novels are a must for anyone who is into this genre. Foundation is a very complex and long book, but its story has inspired millions of readers across the world. Before going to bed I like to spend somewhere between twenty and thirty minutes reading, to let my imagination fly. Imagination opens up possibilities and allows me to play with language and reading gives me the language I need to express my ideas better in real-life situations. 

Similarly, I read newspapers in English. It doesn’t really matter whether you prefer American or British ones.  Most of them will keep you informed, and if you don’t want to read the entire edition, you can always skip to the articles you’re most interested in.

One last suggestion before moving on would be to sign up for a newsletter. Many newspapers offer them without a subscription charge and there is a myriad of different topics you can pick from. If you work in business, you might like to read a weekly column by a renowned economist. But if you aren’t really into reading I have other suggestions for you.

Are you into music but have difficulty understanding your favourite songs?

Well,  you can now read the lyrics to your favourite songs in  most music apps. I know not everyone is proud of their singing voice but I sing the lyrics while walking in the park, going to the supermarket, or just when I’m at home. It feels somehow like being at a concert and since I always use my headphones, I can’t hear myself (fortunately!).

In addition to music, you can also listen to podcasts. There is currently a boom in the market, so you’re really spoilt for choice. 

Like newsletters, you can pick your favourite topic, save it for later and listen to it on your way to work. It doesn’t have to be about learning English. Many podcasts are easy talks/conversations on different subjects.  You might find one giving tips and suggestions on how to reduce stress in everyday life and another on how to be organised.  This means that while practicing your English listening skills, you’ll simultaneously learn how to combat stress or how to organise your schedule in a more efficient way.

Are you still hesitant about breaking with your routine?  Why don’t you try some of my suggestions? Even if they’re not your cup of tea, you might find they help you discover other ways to learn English that are better suited to your taste. 

I wish you lots of fun with it!

Take a leaf out of Guillermo’s book and sign up for our monthly newsletter. You’ll receive free activities to help practise your English reading, writing, listening, and grammar skills. 

Interested in learning English with the British Council? Visit our website to find out more about our online flexible classes.