Planning Your Answer Goes a Long Way: How to Answer Unexpected Questions

Here’s one of the biggest problems I’ve been facing myself over the years when dealing with other English speakers: Sometimes they ask you a question you don’t really expect or you don’t have an opinion on, and as a result you struggle to deliver an immediate response! What’s even worse – more often than not your inability to deliver an immediate answer to that question will be mistaken for inability to find the right words to say (basically they’ll assume your English vocabulary isn’t sufficient), but it’s obviously not the case if you simply haven’t thought about that subject before! Let’s assume for argument’s sake you’re walking down the street and you’re suddenly approached by some charity worker trying to talk people into signing up for a monthly direct debit in aid for a particular charity organization – it has happened to me on numerous occasions and I’m sure you’ve fallen victim to those agents as well! Well, not that I have something against charity as such, it’s just that I don’t like the idea of signing up for yet another monthly payment from my bank account! I always tell those people I wouldn’t mind donating a fiver for a good cause, but the answer is always the same – “We can’t accept any cash, it’s not how our organization works and so on.” Anyhow, let’s say you’re suddenly stopped by one of those fellas or girls and you’re being bombarded by a substantial amount of information at once: “Hello mister, do you have a few moments to listen me out? I’m representing organization X – have you ever heard of us? - and we’re helping Y – I’m sure you’ve heard about problems surrounding Y lately - and we depend on people just like you to keep providing these essential services, and…” At this moment in time there’s a number of different lines of thoughts starting in your mind: “Do I have time to talk to this person or I don’t? Do I actually feel comfortable speaking with him?” “Organization X? Yeah, I kind of recognize the name, but I’m not sure…” “Helping Y? That’s a really good cause, but should I ask him if all my money would go towards Y or organization X are keeping some of it for themselves?” … and so on and so forth. All these thoughts happening at once might make your response almost impossible, let alone allowing you to deliver a well thought-through answer! You might start saying something nonsensical, you might make some really stupid mistakes and the agent might think that your English is so bad that you can’t come up with anything reasonable to say! Well, not that you should care too much about others’ opinion anyway, it’s just that I guess you’d wish you could manage such situations better and form logical answers, wouldn’t you? Then read the rest of this article and you’ll find out how EXACTLY you have to PLAN your answers on occasions when you’re bombarded with all different types of questions or you’re asked something unexpected very suddenly! (more…)

English Idiomatic Expression: “It’s been dealt with”

Today I’m going to provide you with a new English idiomatic expression which will come in handy in situations when you have to report completion of an assignment. “IT’S BEEN DEALT WITH” is the phrase in question, and you’re more than welcome to watch the video above where I’m discussing the merits of this particular phrase. To be honest with you, there are simpler expressions which can be used in pretty much the same situations: “It’s done”, “It’s sorted” or “I’ve done it”. “It’s been dealt with”, however, implies that your assignment has demanded quite a lot of effort, so you may want to use this expression when you’ve been dealing with a complicated matter and you’re telling someone that it’s been dealt with. Chat soon, Robby ;-)

Counting in English Helps Your Fluency!

Believe it or not, aside from running the English Harmony blog, I have a full time job! I work in a knitwear manufacturing company, and my job involves packing customers’ orders so there’s a lot of counting going on. Sometimes I spend entire days looking at order printouts and calling out product codes and quantities to myself while I’m packing the respective garments. Can you guess where this is all leading to? Yes, I do all counting and number crunching in English :!: “Is it a big deal?” you may ask. “Why should I bother myself with counting in English while working in similar conditions? I use English when I need to talk to someone, but other than that I’m happy to use my native language when being on my own and doing mundane tasks at work!” With all due respect, my dear blog reader, but I have to disagree! Partially it's because I always tend to disagree with popular beliefs and assumptions, but for the most part it's because it's very IMPORTANT to develop one's ability to THINK in English. So read on to find out WHY counting merchandise at work or calling our product codes to yourself in English is beneficial to your English fluency :!: (more…)

English Idiomatic Expression: “There’s no doubt about that”

12 Reasons Why Spoken English is Just Like Playing a Guitar

1. You may be good at recognizing chords & songs, but you need to be able to play them yourself in order to… play them! If I told you that watching Keith Richards perform and deliver his best guitar pieces for three months straight will make you into a decent guitar player, would you believe me? I guess not! Then why would you ever listen to someone who wants you to buy into the learn-English-by-listening hype? Ability to use your mouth in order to speak in English AND using your guitar to play a song aren’t so dissimilar because it all boils down to your ability to DO something rather than just RECOGNIZE something. It’s all about PASSIVE vs ACTIVE English, music or whatever practical skill we’re looking at! When I picked up the guitar for the first time and tried my first chord, I sucked at it big time. And it’s no wonder I was so bad at it – I simply had never tried doing it before. I had been checking out some related information previously though, and I had a general idea of how certain chords would have to be placed. Doing it myself turned out to be a totally different story altogether, and the very same goes with using your mouth in order to speak in English. You may be able to understand other people fairly well, yet when you open your mouth it’s the same as trying your first chord on a guitar. Remember: spoken English – just like guitar play – is a very PRACTICAL SKILL! (more…)

Repetition in Terms of English Learning & Weightlifting is the same!

English Idiomatic Expression: “If you’re anything serious about”

Good morning my friends :!: It’s yet another Monday morning, and just like any other Monday, we all go about our daily business. Some of us go to school or college; some of us go to work. But if you’re anything serious about your spoken English improvement, you have to work on your oral fluency pretty much the whole time regardless of your daily routine! My perfect recipe for constant and rapid spoken English improvement consists of plenty of self-practice with a particular focus on idiomatic expression acquisition, and today’s phrase is ‘if you’re anything serious about’. I already used this expression in the paragraph above and it vividly depicts how I’d personally use this phrase – “if you’re anything serious about your spoken English improvement” is my favorite line and I use it in almost all my videos. If you want to hear a little bit more about today’s phrase, however, you’re more than welcome to watch the video above where I’m also telling you why I have to stay at home this week and be a housewife. Thanks for dropping by, Chat soon, Robby ;-)

English Idiomatic Expression: “Bear in mind”

Another day – another English idiomatic expression from Robby! Today’s phrase is used in just about any situation whenever someone tells you something important and they want you to pay particular attention to a specific detail. “Please, bear in mind that…” is the typical way you’ll be told that you shouldn't forget what follows this phrase, and if you want to find out more specific examples of this phrase in action – please watch the video above! Sample sentences I’m coming up with are sometimes funny because I’m always improvising in these videos, and I think it’s worth watching the above video even for that reason alone. Not that I consider myself being some sort of a comedian or anything, it’s just that I sometimes laugh at myself while editing my own videos and I would imagine I’m not the only one feeling that way! Chat soon, Robby ;-)

Idiomatic Expressions are your Proteins; Spoken English Practice – your Workout Routine!

My fellow foreign English speakers! Would you go to a gym only to sit back, watch other people work out, and expect to put on muscle, increase your fitness levels and become a better athlete? Of course not! It would be nonsensical to abstain from a physical activity while it’s obvious to anyone that it’s THAT ACTIVITY that will insure your goals and targets in that specific discipline. Now, can anyone tell me then why spoken English performance would be any different? Is it not OBVIOUS that in order to become better speakers, we need to SPEAK (work out)? Well, the traditional English teaching industry doesn’t make it an easy task, that’s for sure! After all those years of being brainwashed we sometimes might struggle to see the obvious. (more…)

English Idiomatic Expression (Conditional Sentence Type 3) – Had I (p. participle), I would have (p. participle)

Focus on Your Achievements & Ignore Perfectionists if They Make You Feel Worse!

If you focus on grammar aspects of your language when you speak, you may experience the following problems: * feeling overwhelmed; * constantly analyzing you own speech; * lacking self-esteem :mad: All this in turn may result in terrible English fluency issues whereby you feel like all your achievements in terms of your ability to speak in English are for nothing! You may feel like you’re back to square one, you may feel as if you’re never going to be a decent English speaker – and it definitely doesn’t help if someone is constantly trying to point out your mistakes in the process! The reason why I recorded this video is because I was contacted by one of my blog readers and he asks me if it’s OK to do spoken English self-practice instead of speaking with people online who are focused way too much on the grammar aspect of the English language. Basically he says he reads a lot, and then he summarizes each chapter by speaking out loud and developing his fluency that way. He feels much better and more confident while engaged into that exercise than speaking with smart-arses who are hell-bent on getting his grammar right without being aware of what they’re doing to his confidence and fluency. (more…)

English Harmony System Update: de Luxe Edition!