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Becoming a Lockdown Learner

Prior to the first lockdown back in March 2020, teaching English as a Foreign Language had involved  one to one lessons with local students or our very popular immersion courses. Clients came to stay in the stunning New Forest National Park and immersed themselves in the language , culture and beautiful countryside , staying with one of our exclusive hosts and having the attention of one of our dedicated tutors all day -with the added benefit of dining out in some of our well-established eateries too!


Lockdown 1 and 2 was a time when many of us had to pivot established businesses to the online world, where we decided to fill our time with taking up CPD courses and learning new skills as well as getting on with  all those things that needed to be done but had been put on the back burner!

I, for one,  decided to study some completely new topics as well as some that would enhance my current work life. Putting the shoe on the other foot and becoming a lockdown learner was to say the least, an eye opener for me.

 Finding myself  in a household with teenage twin daughters studying from home, and adult daughters who had decided to fly their own nests and migrate for lockdown to the family home, meant that procrastination became my forte!

Finding the Key

So, how do you get on with learning new things and picking up new skills when time and sometimes space is not on your side?

I found that after the first week of trying to juggle the household; being realistic with the time and space was the key.

 I’d started off  rather like that  first day of school, I had got dressed (good start, I always feel more productive if I get dressed as if I am going to work , rather than  sitting in my PJ’s!) I had my notebooks ready , pencils sharpened and was ready to devote from 10 am – 12 pm  to my learning .  Then,  at what must have been break time for The Tweens, the boom boom boom of a speaker on at full blast  came from one room , then a rendition of a rap song with very unsavoury lyrics from another, then my mobile started ringing and The Mothership was asking what time it was as her clock had stopped!

By 11.30 I could actually FEEL the house getting hangry…so I gave in and decided to take a good look at what I was trying to achieve and how I could effectively do that . In turn, it made me reflect on my own learners and the struggles that they may have in committing to lessons.

At the time I made a list and with a brightly coloured post-it note stuck it onto my screen:

  1. Make your learning a PRIORITY – figure out WHY you are learning something new
  2. Make learning something you WANT to do so that you are EXCITED to get back to it each time and won’t PROCRASTINATE ( a bit like that really good book you can’t put down and have to finish )
  3. Set REALISTIC times and study sessions – shorter but more frequently
  4. Make time for private study too
  5. LIVE online SESSIONS FOR ONLY 30-45 minutes ( less time to be interrupted!)
  6. Schedule study time into your weekly diary, physically writing down sessions makes it more likely to happen!

 Helping English Language Learners with Bite Sized Lessons

As I mentioned before, this experience has changed the way I look at how my foreign clients , students, of all ages embarking on an English language journey,  manage their online live sessions with the busy lives they also had. Looking at my own experience, I decided that I would change things up a bit and offer sessions that could become part of their weekly schedule (rather than what can sometimes  become an Achilles heel at the end of a busy day), that would fit in nicely to a coffee break, lunch break or even part of a commute.

For young adults  who are still in and out of schools and universities like you-yo’s, as lockdowns are lifted and then brought back,  shorter sessions means that they have a constistant connection with their online live English tutors 3- 5 times a week for 30 mintues sessions ( which have been carefully planned ). For business clients, shorter, regular sessions mean that we are on hand to help with daily queries along side their bespoke course – realtime langauge issues can be dealt with instantly and effectively! All in all a win win situation.

I am not saying that traditional longer sessions of learning are not effective for  online  teaching but in some cases short but sweet can produce better long term results.