Keeping records probably isn’t a new concept for you. You probably have files on your computer which have a record of correspondence with suppliers, clients, contacts, prospects, etc. You can probably get a statement from your bank showing records of your expenditure. Your telephone bill shows you who you called and when, how long the call was and the cost. Sometimes, we use these records to make changes, to reduce the costs, to improve systems or simply to remember what happened. So, are you keeping records of your English?

Sometimes, people tell me that they know they need to improve their English but they are not sure where to start. I usually recommend that they plan their next conversation, meeting or presentation as a short deadline is normally good at focussing the mind. However, people often don’t know when the next call will come in or exactly what it will be about. In cases such as these, I recommend starting a journal. Keeping records. These records should note the date and time, of course, and the general topic and content of the conversation. They should also note what went well and what was difficult. Knowing what went well helps us to identify strengths and existing knowledge that can be built on. Knowing what was difficult tells us where we need to start work. Most people have a degree of repetition in their work so there is a good chance that the journal will quickly start to show that the same topics arise repeatedly and that the same difficulties are encountered.

The first step - where to start - is to keep a notebook and pen with you and to keep records.