Accept Your English Fluency Limitations!

Read the following carefully – you have to be aware of your limitations in terms of English fluency yet you have to constantly improve your spoken English. Are we looking at an apparent contradiction here? Not at all! Let’s introduce some algebra to help us understand this concept. Look at this hyperbolic graph. It’s one of the best ways to help us grasp the concept of confined infinity. Essentially it’s the same way as saying that you can constantly keep improving your spoken English but at the same time you can expect there to be a cap, a limit to that growth. So what the graph above shows is the following. The hyperbolic graph keeps constantly approaching the axis but it never meets it. This line extends infinitely and in theory if you would be able to keep zooming in, you’d see that it never touches the x axis. But just think about this – the axis in itself is a limitation in space, so it marks a certain level. And it’s right here when we can draw parallels with constantly improving English fluency yet it’s limited by your personal circumstances. (more…)

Don’t Compare Your English With Others!

Today’s blog post’s topic is about the importance of not comparing your English with others. And I don’t mean it in a way that you’d have to ignore English spoken by people around you. It’s quite the opposite - I want you to perceive this piece of advice as an encouragement not to feel inferior to other English speakers :!: The sense of inadequacy and worthlessness as an English speaker can sometimes overwhelm you and it can have a detrimental effect on your English fluency. The goal of my English Harmony project is to help foreigners deal with occasional drops in spoken English fluency which are quite common in those who’ve followed the traditional path of English learning by focusing on writing and studying English grammar. So not only you have to deal with the actual speech issue itself; you also have to be mentally tough and resilient to maintain the ability to communicate with others when going through the bad English fluency phrase while hearing others perform much better than you :!: Here’s a typical scenario – and if you have the English fluency issue you definitely would have had similar moments. You arrive at work, and say hello to your co-workers, but for some reason your English isn’t as good as normally so you feel that you’re struggling a bit to say the simplest things - like morning greetings. Anyway, you’re already under mental pressure to keep your speech steady and slow – otherwise you risk running into even bigger issues like getting completely stuck in a middle of conversation and getting a total blackout in your mind. And then suddenly you hear some other foreign English speakers having a chat and they just speak away fluently and effortlessly. Or it could even be you involved in a chat with, for instance, your native speaking colleague and another foreign person. The other foreigner speaks freely, but you constantly catch yourself struggling with picking the right word, or expressing your thoughts clearly. So tell me, what would be the most natural reaction on this? Of course, anyone who’s in the situation I just described would start comparing their performance with the other foreign person’s performance :!: It’s a totally natural competitiveness and in normal circumstances facilitates one’s desire to compete, to become better at it. (more…)

How To Make Your English Sound Right? Use Collocations!

If you ask an average English speaker what a collocation is, they’ll probably shrug their shoulders and will ask you to provide an explanation. Well, I’ve no problems doing it for you! Collocations are words that normally go together in written and spoken English. They make your English sound more fluent and native-like, and it’s when you get a collocation wrong when people would say – “Well, it doesn’t sound right, they don’t say it like that in English…” The tricky part is that there are no English Grammar rules stipulating how and when certain words go together, you simply have to develop “the feel” of how words are naturally used. Basically you have to learn English collocations and incorporate them into your spoken and written English. For instance, when you go back to work after a few days illness, you’d tell your work colleagues that you’re “fully recovered”. If you use any other word with “recovered” – “completely recovered”, “absolutely recovered” or “totally recovered” – it doesn’t sound as good as the natural collocation “fully recovered”. The two words – “fully” and “recovered” are the ones that naturally go together in English language, so we can say that those words collocate with each other. Collocations are somewhat similar to English idioms. Just like idioms they’re word combinations that are used by native English speakers and you just have to learn those phrases to be able to use them; you can’t just translate the same meaning from your native language and stick relevant English words together :!: However, it won’t make you a better English speaker if you only KNOW what a collocation is. Knowing alone doesn’t make you fluent, and that’s obvious to me now after my years long pursuit of English fluency! So let’s cut the rant, and let’s get straight down to the business! ;-) (more…)

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WILL and GOING TO English Future Forms: How to Use Them in Conversations

Welcome back to another Practical English Grammar lesson where we talk about Future in spoken English and how to sound fluent and natural when talking about future events! In the previous video we looked at how to use Present Progressive Tense – also called Present Continuous – for describing future events. The most important bit of information from that lesson is to perceive Present Progressive as the basic grammar tense for describing future. You know – in 9 times out of 10 foreign English speakers use the traditional WILL + verb in infinitive Future Tense when speaking about future events, but it transpires that this grammar form is being massively overused :shock: Many future events we talk about on a daily basis have been arranged prior to the conversation, so we can confidently use Present Progressive instead. For instance, you have to say “Sorry, I’m watching a very interesting TV program tonight” instead of “I will watch a very interesting TV program tonight” if you have a conversation with your friend and he asks you if you can go out with him tonight. By now you’re probably getting slightly confused over my ramblings on future in spoken English. Judging by the previous video, one might think that WILL + verb and GOING TO future forms are redundant and there’s no need to use them. Especially if you take into account that I said that you’d be better off overusing Present Progressive rather than the WILL Future Tense – to many it may sound as if I’m saying that you can speak English and use Present Progressive ONLY when it comes to talking about future events. Well, it’s not so. Other Future forms are also necessary; you just need to know WHEN to use them :!: So today let’s look at the traditional English Future Tense – WILL + verb in infinitive and also the GOING TO Future form and how to use them in conversational English. (more…)