Center for Language Education
The Hong Kong University
of Science and Technology

English Advice Sheets



Devising a study plan

The following suggests an approach to learning pronunciation independently.

Useful reference
  1. Decide why you want to improve your pronunciation
P2: ‘Identifying why you want to study pronunciation’
  1. Decide what areas to work on
P2: ‘Identifying areas to study’ and P6: to understand what the areas are and P7 if you are a Cantonese speaker or P8 if you are a Putonghua speaker
  1. Write out your learning goal
P2: ‘Working towards setting a goal for your learning’ and ‘Being realistic about your plans’ and General needs analysis – Learner Support Doc.P34 & 5
  1. Look for suitable materials
P3 for Language Commons materials. Also check for pronunciation materials in the library so that you can borrow them if you wish
  1. Devise a study plan. Consider the following:
  1. a. How much time can I spend studying?

  2. b. Which materials do I want to use?
  3. c. Do I want to work on my own or with a partner?

  4. d. Do I want regular help from an Language Commons adviser?
  5. e. What kind of record should I keep for my learning?
  6. f. How will I monitor and assess my progress?
  7. g. How can I integrate other skills? e.g. listening to TV news or watching films, practising speaking with CD-ROMs, forming a discussion group, etc
  1. a. Self-Access Learning Advice Sheets ‘How to manage your study’- Learner Support Doc.M1 and ‘General needs analysis’- Learner Support Doc.P34 to 5
  2. b. P3
  3. c. Check the ‘Language Exchange Notice Board in the Language Commons, ask friends or an Language Commons Adviser (they may know of someone suitable for you to work with)
  4. d. Go to the Language Commons Advice Desk and talk to an Language Commons Adviser
  5. e. Same as ‘a’ above. Also refer to P4: ‘Keeping records’ and ‘Monitoring your progress’
  6. f. Same as ‘e’ above
  7. g. Other Language Commons Advice Sheets such as: L2: Listening to the news, L5: Listening to British and American English, S2: Creating Practice Opportunities: Strategies for Speaking A, S4: Improving your presentation skills, etc

Keeping records

When working independently you have the flexibility to focus on what you need to learn, when you learn and how you learn. These advantages are great but in order for your learning to be successful it is very important that you think carefully about how to organise and manage it. This involves planning your time, deciding on which materials you use, the kind of practice you do and how you evaluate your progress in order to plan for your continued learning. In order to organise and manage your learning well it’s important to keep some kind of record of your learning activities. There is no fixed way of doing this as each individual will prefer their own method of record keeping but it is a good idea to include a number of essential elements such as:

  • What you intend to focus on learning (to help keep you on track it’s good to write out your learning intention – it may be the same as your overall goal or it may be more specific for a particular period of time)
  • When you learn: (write down the date and the number of hours you spend studying for that particular period – this will help you see how much time you need to spend on whatever you’ve chosen to focus on)
  • Materials used e.g. Ship or Sheep? Unit 1 pg. 4 Ex. 1-3 (it’s a good to do this so that you can easily refer back to what you’ve been working on and to easily refer to if you want to ask for advice from an Language Commons Adviser)
  • Notes of what you’ve learnt (so that you can look back and easily revise what you’ve studied and to give you a sense of achievement at times when you might be feeling frustrated or unmotivated)
  • Feelings about your learning, including problems you’d like to discuss with an Language Commons Adviser (to help you monitor and assess your progress and keep you on track for future planning)
  • What you want to do next (it’s a good idea to always think ahead and consider what you want to study/focus on next as this can help motivate you and give you something concrete to look forward to doing)

Monitoring your progress

Monitoring your own progress is essential for any self-learning activity. It not only enables you to know which areas need re-learning, but also gives you an idea of your successes, thus giving you encouragement.

Below are some suggestions about how to monitor your own progress:

  • Re-do some of the exercises and compare the scores.
  • Record your performance on tape and review it from time to time.
  • Check your performance with the Language Commons adviser over a period of time.
  • Review the feelings you have noted down in your learning record.
  • If you did a diagnostic test in the beginning, do it again and compare your ‘before learning’ and ‘after learning’ scores.
  • Ask people who have followed your progress to comment on improvements (your language instructor or supervisor, classmates or English speaking friends)

Learning tips

If you feel that just practising from pronunciation books and cassette tapes is boring, you can work on other skills at the same time. Listening and speaking are essential if you want to improve your pronunciation so you could make use of:

  • Authentic materials e.g. Films, Radio programmes, TV news (refer to advice sheet Listening to TV news L2).
  • CD ROMs (refer to advice sheet Listening to British and American English L5).
  • You can keep a tape of your attempts to imitate speech from pronunciation, listening or speaking materials (it’s a good idea to listen to the original and then compare that with your version to see if you are able to imitate correctly)
  • If at any time you feel alone, bored or frustrated with your learning, don’t hesitate to come and talk to an Language Commons Adviser at the Advice Desk. We’re there for you.


This leaflet is part of the Pronunciation series of leaflets supporting independent language learning, produced by the HKUST Center for Language Education Language Commons team. This leaflet was written by Sarah Toogood and Kitty Wong, 1997. Revised by Sarah Toogood 2000. If you copy from this leaflet, please acknowledge the source. Thanks.

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