Divide your life script into different times of the day.
This is no joke, Mr Yoke: Photo: Pixel Addict via FlickrMatthew has given us some great advice−to write a "life script", and memorise it, to plant the seed of thinking in English (or whatever language we are learning) through our ordinary day-to-day living. Not only will this kickstart you thinking in English: it will also increase your vocabulary (about useful things in real life); and it will help make some grammar patterns much more familiar to you.
But what would such a script look like? I think it is good for such a script to be simple; to be quite detailed; and ideally, to be personalised (made for your own situation, by you). I can't personalise a script for you unless I know you, of course, but here is an example of a script for when you get up in the morning.
I set the alarm for half past six.
The alarm goes off.
I turn the alarm clock off.
"Oh my God, surely it can't already be time to get up?".
"Yikes, it feels early!".
I switch on the light.
I get up.
I go to the bathroom/ I go to the toilet.
I wash my hands.
I dry my hands on a towel.
I go back into my bedroom.
I get dressed.
I put on my trousers/skirt/shirt/socks etc.
I button my shirt.
I go to the kitchen.
I turn on the kitchen light.
"What shall I have for breakfast?"
"Is there any bread left for breakfast?"
I cook myself some toast.
I get a slice of bread out of the bag.
I put the bread in the toaster.
I wait for the toast to cook.
"Man, I feel tired!"
I put some coffee on.
"Maybe I'll feel better after I have some coffee."
"That coffee smells pretty good . . ."
I make myself a cup of tea.
I put a teabag in the cup.
I pour a little milk into my tea.
Obviously, there could be even more detail here, but you get the idea. Let me point out several things I am trying to do.
- I am trying to make it detailed, so that, ideally, you have something to think in English with each thing you do. Wall-to-wall English! Observe yourself. If you find any thought you regularly think ("Oh no! Here comes my boss again!"), translate it, make it part of your "life script", and try to think it in English next time. This means you will have a better chance of getting your native language entirely out of your head, living in an English world, and helping your brain make a full switch to English.
- Sentences in quote marks (e.g. "What shall I have for breakfast?") are meant to be things you could normally think to yourself, about how you feel, what you might do next, etc. This kind of language is often quite special, because there are sometimes special phrases or patterns we use in a language to "talk to ourselves" (for example, I remember learning in Japanese the pattern, さあ、テレビでもつけてみようか。。。) "Life scripts" are a great way to learn this kind of language.
- Other sentences (no quote marks) are like a running commentary on what we are doing. They are a chance to learn lots of vocabulary and some grammar, and to just keep our brain thinking in English about simple things.
So what should you do with a "life script" like this? You certainly shouldn't just write one, or read it, and then move on. I suggest:
- Memorise this one, word for word, and then try to think or speak it in the morning, as you really do the things it talks about. (People say talking to yourself is a sign you are crazy. This is only true if you are not learning a language. If you are learning a language, talking to yourself is a sign you are very clever and serious!)
- Change it to fit your own situation. Are you a man, or a woman? What do you wear? Change it to talk about your clothes, when it talks about getting dressed. Don't do things in the order I wrote? Change the order to the order of your habits. What do you eat in the morning? Not toast? Change it to talk about what you eat.
- Add to it. The more the better! If there is anything you can think of that you do that is not in there, put it in.
- Send your changes or additions to your Poligo editor to get them fixed, so you can make sure you are memorising 100% correct, natural English.
- Write more scripts for other things you do, at other times of the day or the week. This is THE best way to work. Scripts you write yourself will help you learn much more than one I write for you, because all the thinking and work you do to create the script will be part of the learning, and because it will all be about you (and so much more memorable). There are lots of times in the day and the week you can (and should!) write scripts for (see here for a list, ).
- Record the script, and listen to it regularly, until all the language in it occurs naturally to you whenever you are actually doing that thing in your daily life. (This is also a great way of using an iPod to study on the go.)