Previously I’ve written about studying what you find interesting. This has built-in motivation and will help you talk about the things you do every day.
However, sometimes you want to learn new things. To do this, become a ‘specialist’. Focus on a topic and learn vocabulary about it by listening and reading about it. This may be a long project, definitely more than one week. Don’t worry about spending too much time on this project; worry about whether it is interesting enough.
Brainstorm vocabulary ideas first
What words do you think you are going to read/hear? Perhaps it would be a good first step to use a dictionary to translate from your first language to English if you don’t have any ideas at all.
Take notes while you read and listen
Try to write what you read or heard in your own words. Do you agree with it? Will you try out the idea that you read about or heard?
Make word cards for new vocabulary
New vocabulary from any reading or listening should go onto word cards. You might also want to add these new words to a glossary, a list of specialist words and what they mean.
Carry on until you are a ‘specialist’
You might want to start a new specialist topic while you are in the middle of another. It’s possible but it is a lot of work. Why not write it down and start it when you feel you know enough about your current topic. You know when you have finished if you feel you have improved your vocabulary enough to tell your friends about your specialist topic in English.
From my own experiences I have found this to work, while studying photography, running and fitness training in Japanese. All are really fun, as is my new specialism, psychology.