Ways to improve your literacy are the hot topic of the day and, hey, wouldn’t you say this is the perfect topic for this time of the year? New Year is just around the corner and that’s 12 fresh months to do something great for yourself. Why not start with writing, vocabulary, spelling? I’m sure you’re well-spoken and smart, probably even creative and well-informed to boot but there are always ways to improve your literacy even more and that’s never a waste of time. Here’s what I have to suggest:
1. Text on Your Own
First of many great ways to improve your literacy would be to turn off auto-correct, predictive text or any of those “let me make writing easy for you” add ons and start texting on your own. It’s not going to be easy, of course, but it will help you improve your grammar and spelling as well as brush up on those precious writing skills you haven’t gotten a chance to use much after school.
2. Keep a Journal
Preferably, a hand-written one! Do your best to write something down each day, even if it’s just a short paragraph on nothing new going on. It will help you practice your handwriting (which you’ll agree, isn’t something we get a lot of opportunities to do nowadays) but it also makes expressing yourself much easier.
Every book or article you’ve ever read has done something great for your mind. And every single one you’ve skipped is a lost opportunity to learn something new, even if that’s just an interesting word or two. Try to steal an hour or two each week to relax with interesting content of your own choosing and you’ll soon notice that you’re not only picking up more and more words you haven’t used before but find yourself initiating more conversations and looking forward to your next reading session.
4. Read Aloud
Reading helps us memorize words visually, improving our spelling skills as well as vocabulary. And while the visual is no doubt useful, the audio component can add to the experience even further and actually help you trick your brain into memorizing even more words. The cherry on top? You’ll pick up the right pronunciation which is essential in case the language in question is not your mother tongue!
5. Collect Literary Gems
Famous quotes, interesting poems, random sentences that trigger some kind of an emotional response – don’t just highlight them thinking “Okay, I’ll go back to that later”. You won’t! Write them down instead and you’ll soon have your very own collection of inspiring, power-word rich content you can leaf through whenever your brain feels sluggish. It’ll keep the wheels turning even when you can’t commit to anything more extensive and time-consuming.
6. Set Realistic Goals
You should not force yourself to quote Freud or try to convince your poor mind that Sun Tzu’s Art of War is a casual read. Do not hope you’ll pick up the pen and turn into Dostoevsky. Baby steps are the key and over-planning is totally counterproductive.
7. Stay Committed
Once you find that perfect balance between selling yourself short and falling victim to great expectations, all you need to do is to give yourself a nudge here and there, just to make sure you’re on the right track. Raise the bar just a tad bit higher whenever you notice you’re exceeding your current level, encouraging yourself to develop further instead of abandoning your self-improvement project.
8. Let Your Imagination Run Wild
Some people believe daydreaming is silly, childish and a total waste of time no self-respecting, productive grown-up should ever have time for. But guess what? I disagree! Let those things you’ve read or heard influence you, let your brain process them by turning them over and over again.
9. Get Others to Join You
Organize a book club with your friends or ask them to join you for a course of creative writing. Busy bees might enjoy audio books more than paperbacks and the ones with children might want to turn their self-improvement into an activity the whole family can benefit from.
Would you like to pitch in and add a few neat tricks for improving literacy? Well, feel free to do so, I’m all ears.