80/20 Learning Methodology

It All Comes Down To Knowing What To Do and How To Do It

Most people realize that in almost every task, 80% of your results come from only 20% of your actions. This phenomenon is in fact, known as the 80/20 Principle and was discovered more than 100 years ago in 1897 by Vilfredo Pareto.

This principle states that there is an inbuilt imbalance between inputs and output, or effort and reward, typically represented by an 80/20 relationship. This principle has been used extensively in the global quality movement and by Fortune 500 corporations such as Apple, Microsoft, and IBM.

Unlike traditional linear thinking which assumes that effort and results are directly proportional, 80/20 Thinking implies that 80% of the results that we achieve flow from concentrating on the 20% of the most important inputs or actions.

“The highest value of our efforts, energy and time should be spent on:

  • Things that advance our overall purpose in life
  • Things that we have always wanted to do
  • Innovative ways of doing things that promise to slash the time required or multiply the quality of results.”

Richard Koch, “The 80/20 Principle”

Here’s how the 80/20 principle could apply to our learning:


1. Pick a life enhancing goal, such as career success

2. Identify objectives to work on, such as communication and accent

3. Focus on taking high value, low effort actions to maximize results

However, knowing the 80/20 principle and applying it in our lives are two different things. Because the secret is in figuring out what these “20% actions” are – those key inputs, high value activities or objectives – that provide the most impactful results.

So most people are left doing things the “traditional way”… until someone finally shows them the shortcuts.

Well, let me share a secret with you…There IS a much simpler approach, and it provides much more profound results.

From Traditional to 80/20 Learning

But before I get to that, let me explain how the typical approach to learning the American accent works.
In order to improve your American accent and pronunciation you need training to help you understand the fundamentals of spoken American English AND how to apply these fundamentals in your daily speech.

Here’s what the top English pronunciation experts from around the world have to say:

  • University of California, Los Angeles

    You need training which balances sounds and stress and intonation – Dr. Marianne Celce-Murcia.

    Professor Marianne Celce Murcia found that students studying American English need a balance of both sound lessons and stress and intonation lessons in order to increase their comprehensibility.

  • University of New England

    Just listening and repeating is not effective – You must learn to break down English sounds and recreate them – Dr. Helen Fraser.

    Professor Helen Fraser found that the “listen & repeat” formula is not effective. Instead, students must learn to break down the sounds of English and recreate them. Students must think about how they make sounds and then apply this thinking to words they encounter when they speak.

  • Boston University

    You need to understand and name your pronunciation mistakes – Dr. Marnie Reed.

    Professor Marnie Reed found that students of spoken English must be able to understand and name their pronunciation mistakes. Her research found that when students could understand and name their pronunciation mistakes they were better able to correct them.

Accent training helps you to understand, for example, that:

  • In spoken American English the words are linked together and that many sounds many sounds are deleted or reduced
  • The 26 letters in the English alphabet make up more that 40 different sounds
  • The spoken sound of a vowel or consonant changes according to its position in a word
  • The way a syllable is stressed determines the meaning of a word
  • Stress & intonation, which are so vitally important to comprehensibility in spoken English are not represented in the written form of the language

Take a look at the graphic below. Believe it or not, if you were to open up a typical book on accent training, you would find that learning to speak with an American acccent involves learning all of the rules, patterns and principles behind sounds, stress, intonation, linking, reductions and more! Astonishing, isn’t it?

On top of that, it has been estimated that we use anywhere between 2,000 to 8,000 English words in our daily vocabulary.

Can you imagine how much time and effort it take a learner to master pronouncing that many words in the American way?

But NOW, with 80/20 learning, there is a new way for you to succeed …

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