Lesson #251: September 2021 – A season to remember? (and 3 tips on how to improve your English in one semester)

It has been a busy summer here in the west of Ireland!

I spent several weeks editing my Learn English Through Literature book (I promise to keep everyone updated on its progress!) while also preparing study materials, workbooks, etc. for my English language coaching students this season. 📚

🎨 And as you can see from the feature image, I try to do a bit of watercolour painting here and there.

Talking of the new academic year, I love the month of September! 🍃🌞🍂

We tend to think of Spring as the natural start of the year. However, September is actually one of the best seasons for making a fresh start and committing to learning something anew.

💡 Do you have any ‘new (academic) year resolutions’?

💡 Do you know what you would like to learn most between now and the end of 2021?

Trust me, you can learn a life-changing level of English in the time that is left. There are just a few things you will need …

Keep on reading and I will share 3 tips to help you, as well as a poem called ‘September’ from a gifted American poet. 🙂

How to improve your English in a season

📝#1 DECIDE, COMMIT … AND SET A DEADLINE

Everyone who wants to improve their English must be actively intentional about it.

You will only learn and remember whatever you commit wholeheartedly to and put effort in. This means making a promise to yourself that you are going to do whatever you can to start a change, even if it involves a certain amount of time, finances, or other resources to achieve it.

Science shows that when we make a commitment to ourselves and stick with it, it does wonders for our confidence and self-esteem!

📝#2 ‘CONNECT THE DOTS’ BETWEEN WHAT YOU LEARN AND HOW YOU LIVE

Another way to improve is to create associations between what you want to learn and assimilate (adopt, incorporate) and a special time, place, or experience.

🕯️ It reminds me of today’s poem (below) by American poet Helen Hunt Jackson (1830-1885, a contemporary of Emily Dickinson, though not as widely celebrated), who remembers a memorable event from her past, all because her experience of September reminds her of it.

📝#3 TRY INDIVIDUALISED AND INTENSIVE LEARNING

The third way to guarantee that you will improve your language skills in a short amount of time is to find a tutor or a language coach with whom you will work closely and who will hold you accountable.

Tutoring vs Coaching

What, if any, is the difference between them?

💡 A tutor directs and instructs you using a set curriculum.

💡 On the other hand, a language coach collaborates with you, supporting you in whatever you most want to learn, and making sure you reach your goals within a short, set period.

This autumn, I am moving away from traditional tutoring so that I can offer more to my students through individualised coaching – an engaging and intentional learning experience.

✅ So I have revamped this language coaching programme – a one-on-one, 12-week study term in which students work directly with me on topics and goals of their choice through my 5 methods. For example, I will coach a student who wants to write academic essays for university, or another student who wants to be able to give fluent business presentations.

And of course, I will illustrate my coaching sessions’ key points with some literary texts – after all, this is ‘Learn English Through Literature’!

✅ It is the most effective educational technique I know of, being three times more productive than tutoring alone.

✅ As many learners have never heard of coaching before, I am happy to chat with anyone who wants to learn more and see if this suits their learning style (you can also find the programme details here).

As mentioned before, I have been working hard on enhancing this programme all summer – so it is exciting to share it with you at last. 🌞 I just love coaching learners one-on-one (whatever their English level) and can hardly wait to get started!

On this lively and energised note, we will turn to Helen Hunt Jackson’s warm-hearted poem below (with some vocabulary to help you make the most of it).

📜 ‘SEPTEMBER’

by Helen Hunt Jackson (1886)

The golden-rod is yellow;
The corn is turning brown;
The trees in apple orchards
With fruit are bending down.

The gentian’s bluest fringes
Are curling in the sun;
In dusty pods the milkweed
Its hidden silk has spun.

The sedges flaunt their harvest,
In every meadow nook;
And asters by the brook-side
Make asters in the brook.

From dewy lanes at morning
the grapes’ sweet odors rise;
At noon the roads all flutter
With yellow butterflies.

By all these lovely tokens
September days are here,
With summer’s best of weather,
And autumn’s best of cheer.

But none of all this beauty
Which floods the earth and air
Is unto me the secret
Which makes September fair.

‘Tis a thing which I remember;
To name it thrills me yet:
One day of one September
I never can forget.

📝 VOCABULARY LIST:

golden-rod: a type of flower, with golden blossoms, from the Asteraceae plant family

gentian: another kind of flower, with deep purple or blue blossoms, from the Gentianinae plant family

fringe: the outer edge or border of a cloth, hair, group, or area

pod: the small bag-like part of a plant, which contains seeds. Also: a tight and narrow room or group of people.

milkweed: a kind of plant, from the Apocynaceae family, that emits a poisonous milky juice when cut

spun: the past participle of ‘to spin’: 1) to twist and turn [something] around quickly; 2) to turn fibres of wool or other material into a string or thread by drawing them out and twisting them [NOTE: Jackson was referring to this second definition when she wrote of ‘the milkweed / Its hidden silk has spun’]

sedge: a grassy plant with tiny flowers and triangular stems, which tends to grow in wet regions

flaunt: to display something in an ostentatious (showy) way, especially to provoke a reaction (such as anger, admiration, or opposition)

nook: a small and tight corner or opening in something, such as one that offers protection, seclusion, or security

asters: a plant with circular flowers (usually blue, purple, white, or pink, with a yellow centre), from the Asteraceae plant family. They are usually found only in Europe and Asia.

brook: a small stream of water

dewy: covered with dew (moisture found on the ground on cool mornings)

lane: a narrow road, usually in the countryside

odor: the American spelling for ‘odour’ meaning a strong, usually unpleasant, smell

flutter: (of a bird or butterfly) to hover and shake one’s wings quickly and lightly, usually over a flower, chick, etc; (of a person) to move about in a small space nervously and excitedly.

tokens: signs

‘Tis a thing: it is a thing

thrills: from the verb ‘to thrill’, meaning to fill one with sudden, reverberating excitement and joy. It can also be a noun: the experience of such excitement, etc.

🍁 After such a beautifully reflective poem, I have one last question for you:

How will you make September 2021 an experience to remember? 😊