Get The eBook Traditional English
  You’ll also get subscribed to my blog updates – cool VIDEOS, great ARTICLES & FREE advice on spoken English improvement!

Improve Spoken English

Hi guys and welcome back to English Harmony video blog – or welcome back to my podcast in case you’re listening to this as an audio file on iTunes or on my blog.

In today’s video I’m going to tell you about English tenses, namely – what I think about them and how you should go about acquiring complicated English tenses.

You see, I strongly believe that way too many foreign English speakers are focusing on English tenses too early in their attempts to acquire English fluency. I’m getting plenty of comments and emails sent in asking the same questions: “I’m all confused about the tenses. Please, Robby, explain how to use this or that English tense” and questions like, “I need to prepare for this English test or for this exam” and “can you help me to understand the complicated English tenses” and so on and so forth.

Now, if it’s about an exam or a test, then yes, I admit, the traditional English teaching industry requires you to analyze grammar, to understand tenses and it’s a bad thing because that way you get all too focused on analyzing the language instead of speaking or writing spontaneously, right?

My approach is, you have to start learning the English language and then proceed forward with learning simple language, simple sentences, simple word combinations, simple tenses.

It’s totally possible to speak using only three English tenses – Present Simple, Present Continuous, and Simple Past – and I know for a fact that a lot of YouTubers, video bloggers who come from the foreign English speaking background actually don’t use complicated English tenses.

[click to continue…]

{ 6 comments }

Hello everyone! ;-)

Today let’s touch upon some English pronunciation related topic, namely – how you learn pronunciation of new English words and how to mimic the original pronunciation to the best of your benefit when you are trying to speak them out loud.

And here’s a very interesting situation I encountered a few days ago at work.

There’s a Polish girl in my workplace who’s only learning to speak English and she asks me questions through her friend whose English is much better and every day I have to answer a few questions in relation to how you say this or that particular thing in English or how you pronounce a certain word or phrase.

The other day, she asked me through her friend how to pronounce the word “drank” and then, to my big surprise, she repeated in perfect English “drank” and guess what happened?

I tried to think of why she didn’t make the typical mistake that so many foreign English speakers do when they read an English word letter by letter and then they would most likely say something like “drrrank” in case that particular language has the rolling ‘R’, as in my language.

In Latvian, we roll the ‘R’s and many native counterparts of mine would have said “drrrank” with a rolled ‘R’ sound!

So in this particular case Polish is a Slavic language, which is quite close to Russian. And it happens so that I speak Russian too and I know for a fact that all these languages have the rolling ‘R’s – so why did she not say, “drrrank”?

Why’d she say “drank” in perfect English?

Here’s why: she equated the English sounds to her native Polish sounds because she wasn’t looking at a written word but was simply trying to MIMIC what she heard!

[click to continue…]

{ 0 comments }

Don't just think in English - speak at the same time!

Improve Spoken English

Way back in 2012 I published an article about the importance of thinking in English if you’re serious about your English fluency development.

The reason I wrote the said piece was because one of the primary causes of foreign English speakers’ fluency issues is translation from one’s native language when speaking in English which is a direct consequence of the traditional English studies.

You see, if you’re studying the English language the traditional way, you’re bound to start translating when trying to create an English sentence.

You think of what words to say based on how you’d say the same thing in your native language.

You also tend to copy the syntax of sentences from your native language simply because it’s the only know way for you to say or write anything in English.

Basically it all boils down to you THINKING IN YOUR NATIVE LANGUAGE.

Changing your life-long habit and starting to THINK IN ENGLISH, therefore, is an absolute must if you want to learn how to speak fluent English – as you can imagine, it’s not really possible if your head if full of thoughts in your native language while you’re trying to say something in English.

[click to continue…]

{ 8 comments }

Have you ever found that you can’t speak normal, fluent English with people who speak your own language?

It may sound weird at first, but it happens more often than you may think :!:

The reason why I’m touching upon this phenomenon is the following comments I received on YouTube recently:

Cant' speak with my own language speakers in English

Well, I have written about the inability to speak with certain people in English.

I’ve also looked at various reasons as to why it might be easier to speak in English with native English speakers and why sometimes you’ll actually find that other foreigners provide better conversation partners than native English speakers.

[click to continue…]

{ 2 comments }

Hi guys and welcome back to English Harmony video blog!

I’m Robby, your friend and English fluency expert, and this time around I’m going to tell you that all these English fluency issues you might be having (and most likely you are having them, otherwise you wouldn’t have visited my blog and you wouldn’t be searching for English fluency improving related information online, right?) doesn’t mean you’re a total loser.

More often than not, it’s a good thing!

Now, if you think that it’s total nonsense – I mean, how could English fluency issues be good for you? Surely if you didn’t have them at all then you’d be more successful in your career, in your professional life and in your private life, right?

But think about this now, my friends.

Just because you have these issues whereby sometimes you can’t talk normal, fluent English, it forces you to work so much HARDER on your fluency than if you didn’t have those issues at all!

[click to continue…]

{ 2 comments }

I’ve been an English fluency mentor for a good few years now, but it doesn’t mean I speak in English perfectly at all times.

You see, I’m an active proponent of letting it go when speaking in English which invariably involves making a few mistakes here and there, and there’s nothing wrong when a person capable of speaking fluent English says something wrong.

In this particular situation I was paying for goods in a hardware store, and I wanted to ask the cashier for a receipt. Instead of using the word “receipt”, however, I worded the request the following way: “Can I have a check, please?”

Needless to say, I corrected myself immediately after saying the wrong phrase – “Can I have the receipt, please?” is the proper way of asking for a proof of purchase at a till (the word “check” is used when you’re in a restaurant).

Was a feeling bad about confusing the cashier though?

Not at the slightest! :-)

[click to continue…]

{ 0 comments }

Help others and improve your English

Improve Spoken English

Ever since I was in my early teens, I’ve been working on my English.

Truth be told, my English learning methods didn’t do much good to my fluency because I spent most of my time learning English grammar, reading and writing and as a result I developed something I like to call a “writing mode” of my mind (read more about it HERE).

Nonetheless, I was constantly striving to improve my English and whenever one of my friends would ask me to help them to translate something from English or to make a phone call and talk to an English speaker on their behalf, I never said NO.

Helping others became a whole lot more frequent when I moved to Ireland back in 2002 because there were a lot of things to be done in order to settle down in the foreign country – starting from opening a bank account and ending with renting a house – and plenty of my fellow Latvians asked for my assistance when dealing with native English speakers in various institutions or via the phone.

During the Celtic Tiger boom years there was a never-ending stream of Latvian immigrants coming to Ireland many of which happened to be my friends or relations, so needless to say I had to help many of them to deal with local authorities, utility companies and the like.

And guess what?

As a result of all those countless hours of helping others to write correspondence in English, translate from English and also acting as an interpreter on quite a lot of occasions, I immensely improved my own English!

Fair enough, I was constantly struggling with my spoken English because I still kept resorting to traditional English learning methods when studying the language at home, and it’s only 5 years after I arrived in Ireland that I finally realized what I had to do in order to speak fluently.

Having said all this however, I have to admit that by helping others I was doing myself a really big favor because I was constantly exposing myself to real life English and it did contribute into my personal English fluency development big time.

Was I annoyed a lot of times for being constantly asked for help?

Hell yes!

Do I regret it now?

Hell no! :grin:

Now I fully understand that by constantly being out there and helping my fellow Latvians deal with daily problems in an English speaking country I was improving my own English, and there’s no reason, by the way, why you couldn’t do the same thing.

So here’s what I’ve been doing throughout the years for others in terms of helping them to deal with the English language related issues (and there’s no reason in the world why YOU couldn’t start doing the same thing!):

[click to continue…]

{ 4 comments }

Improve Spoken English

I got contacted by a guy living in the US recently, and he said in his e-mail that quite often he finds himself in situations when he can’t have a normal small-talk conversation with native English speakers DESPITE having been told by a lot of English teaching professionals that his English is almost perfect.

So basically the problem can be defined the following way:

Everyone says my English is good enough, but I know for a fact that it ISN’T!

This may sound like an attempt to be super-perfect (it’s as if the person in question is saying that his or her English is never going to be good enough), but in reality it happens to a lot of foreign English speakers due to reasons other than having very high standards when it comes to English acquisition.

The reasons are as follows:

[click to continue…]

{ 0 comments }

This video is dedicated to Juhapekka’s last comment on my blog where he says that he’d really like to be able to think about the most sophisticated and complex subjects in English, but he’s not really able to.

Juhapekka is a Finnish guy and he’s a frequent commentator on my blog – he’s posted a good few comments and they’re very profound and I really, really appreciate his contribution to my blog.

So, thank you once more Juhapekka! ;-)

But now let’s get down to the business and let me respond to the actual comment.

Let me tell you right up-front that it’s going to be useful to everyone – not just Juhapekka – so just watch the video above (or listen to the audio file just above the video in case you can’t access YouTube content) and you’ll definitely find something useful for your own English improvement routine.

[click to continue…]

{ 2 comments }

English learning for beginners

Improve Spoken English

Here are other links mentioned throughout the video:
http://englishharmony.com/why-cant-speak-fluently/
http://accentadventure.com/sentences/
http://englishharmony.com/kids-vs-adults/
http://englishharmony.com/present-continuous-vs-present-simple/

Throughout the years while I’ve been running this blog, I’ve always focused upon needs of those non-native English speakers who find themselves in a situation I was in a number of years ago – unable to speak fluently despite possessing fairly good grammar, reading, writing and comprehension skills in English.

In other words, I’m catering to those foreigners who are long past the beginners English level in terms of general English knowledge and they’ve developed what I like to call a “writing mode” syndrome.

But what about those who only start the journey into the English language now?

Obviously, they wouldn’t be able to read and understand this article for the simple reason that they haven’t built and developed their vocabulary and all the rest, but I can definitely imagine a scenario whereby someone who just starts learning the English language is receiving some useful info from a person having read this article.

Maybe it’s YOU who can help some friend of yours to acquire the English language the right way and AVOID all the pitfalls that we’ve been falling for and that have prevented us from developing natural English fluency from the outset:

  • Learning meanings of individual words;
  • Learning grammar rules and creating sentences by applying them;
  • Translating directly from our native languages;
  • and many more!

Well, I know only too well that the worldwide dominance of the traditional grammar-translation way of teaching languages – English included – is so deeply ingrained in people’s minds that you’ll find it very hard (on most occasions – even impossible!) to convince people NOT TO learn vocabulary lists, NOT TO try to understand the exact meaning of new words and NOT TO analyze the syntax of sentences too deeply by trying to find the exact equivalent of the given English sentence in their native languages.

It’s a constant uphill battle, and most of the times you’ll fail.

It’s worth a try, however, because if you do succeed in persuading your friend to try out the contextual way of learning the English language right from the start, they will NEVER develop the English fluency issues in the first place!

So, where to begin?

Well, I guess a very good place to start would be by understanding that it’s SUPER-IMPORTANT to learn English word combinations right from the start – there’s no need to learn individual English words :!:

Why?

OK, here we go! ;-)

[click to continue…]

{ 2 comments }