My 5 Year Long Journey to English Fluency

I got out of the plane in the Dublin airport. The weather was great despite rumors that it rains 360 days a year in Ireland. I was full of expectations, and I was also slightly worried because all I knew for sure was that I’d signed up for a job in a warehouse. Everything else was left to my imagination and such insignificant details as where I’m going to live and how much I’ll have to pay for accommodation hadn’t been really communicated neither to me nor to other Latvian guys I met at the airport having signed up with the same international job recruitment agency. I didn’t care too much about it anyway. I’d nothing to lose because all I had was 50 euro in my pocket and a promise of a better life. In a couple of weeks’ time it turned out I’d singed up with the right agency. I was working for a large multinational logistics company, pay was good, and I was able to start stashing away significant amount of money on a weekly basis which was impossible in my previous life in Latvia where I’d been barely able to make my ends meet. Little that I knew back then, however, that my stay in Ireland wasn’t going to be just about making a better life for myself and my family. I couldn’t have imagined that living in an English speaking country would challenge me as an English speaker in ways I didn’t even know existed. It turned out that my English was quite poor for practical daily life and soon after my arrival in Ireland I started trying to improve my English so that I could function properly in an English speaking society. It took me long years to figure out that textbook based grammar studies and learning large English vocabulary lists didn’t really improve my ability to communicate with other English speakers. Now, 10 years on, long after I finally achieved English fluency I can say with honesty that it’s been one hell of a journey! Want to find out more about it? Then read the rest of this article! ;-) (more…)

Don’t Try to Speak in English as if You Were Writing!

Many of us, foreign English speakers, learnt the English language as a written language due to the specific nature of academic English curriculum which emphasizes a student’s ability to read and write well. Spoken fluency is being neglected, and as a result our minds adopt what I like to call a ‘writing mode’. It’s when you’re so used to writing and working with English grammar textbooks, that it’s become your second nature to plan grammatically correct sentences in your head before actually speaking them out loud :!: As a result, your English fluency suffers because you find it hard to: Speak spontaneously and fluently (your speech preparation prevents that!) Use new English words and expressions (fear of making mistakes works against it!) Simply enjoy having a conversation with someone in English (you’re too anxious to say it all correctly!) Watch the video above to see how to make a smooth transition from the ‘writing mode’ of you mind into a ‘speaking mode’ so that you can speak fluently and confidently! (more…)