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6 Types of Foreign English Speakers: Which One Are YOU?

Different Types of Foreign English Speakers

Improve Spoken English

Being a foreign English speaker is the common denominator of this blog’s audience.

We’re not all the same, however.

Some of us are living in our home countries.

Some of us have emigrated to English speaking countries.

Many of us have studied the English language at school.

Most of us have a certain degree of oral fluency deficiency due to the nature of traditional English studies.

A good few of us are hell-bent on grammar perfection.

A certain number of us have bought into the myth of English fluency improvement via listening.

In this article I’ve tried to put some structure on this blog’s audience because I’ve observed so many different types of foreign English speakers dropping into my blog over the years that I can say with the utmost certainty: “I know my average blog visitor pretty well!”

1. The Achiever

The Achiever is the type of a foreign English speaker who I simply LOVE dealing with!

The Achiever comes to my blog, reads about the typical English fluency issues, and he realizes that spoken English practice is the only way to overcome the inability to speak fluent English.

Next thing you know, the Achiever is taking action – he’s doing a lot of spoken English self-practice, he’s embracing contextual learning and as a result he’s experiencing a significant improvement to his English fluency within a relatively short period of time.

The Achiever is the type of a foreign English speaker who doesn’t constantly question my methods like the Non-believer.

2. The Non-believer

I’m always trying to remain a true professional and as such, I can’t allow my irritation to tell in the way I respond to my blog visitors’ comments and e-mail queries.

It’s quite hard, however, to deal with my fellow foreign English speakers who just won’t take my recommendations on board and keep going on about the same thing over and over again.

Here’s a typical scenario.

Blog post #1. The key point made in the article – don’t try to analyze this or that particular English phrase or grammar construct, just learn it and speak it out loud!

Comment: Why this particular phrase is worded this way? Can I say it this way? What’s the difference between this phrase and that phrase?

My response: The difference is (followed by my explanation). Don’t analyze it all in such a detail, however, just learn the phrase and use it!

Blog post #2. The key point – the very same.

Comment: Why this particular phrase is worded this way? Can I say it this way? What’s the difference between this phrase and that phrase?

My response: The very same.

Blog post #245: All the same, all the same.

Comment: Why? What’s the difference? Why? WHY?!?

My response: Will you forget about this whole analysis once and for all and start SPEAKING instead of constantly analyzing and asking billions of WHY questions?

The Non-believer can’t be swayed. He just won’t believe what I’m saying despite me sounding like a broken record and repeating the same basic things in nearly every single blog post.

This type of our fellow foreigner just can’t believe that it’s possible to learn English without thorough analysis, and in that the Non-believer is quite similar to the Analyst.

3. The Analyst

This is the person who just can’t help himself constantly analyzing the English language. The Analyst always tries to put some structure on all English content he hears or reads, and a sure sign of you being the Analyst is the fact that you’re currently thinking about why the first sentence of this paragraph says “…can’t help himself analyzing” instead of “…can’t help himself to analyze”.

Needless to say, constant analysis leads to information overload, and the Analyst experiences frequent moments of getting stuck for words when trying to say something English for the simple fact that his mind is overloaded with all that analysis going on!

The Analyst, however, is quite willing to embrace new concepts and unlike the Non-believer he won’t keep banging his head against a brick wall trying to analyze his way to fluency.

He’ll turn into the Achiever fairly quickly – unless, of course, he happens to be the Confused One.

4. The Confused One

I’m very familiar with this type of foreign English speakers’ category for the simple reason that I’ve been the Confused One myself.

For long, long years I was doing everything imaginable in order to improve my English, but I still couldn’t figure out why I can’t speak fluently.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, I’m sure you know my life story, but in case you need to be reminded, here’s a very succinct summary:

  • I hadn’t defined EXACTLY which aspect of my English was lagging behind (spoken English is the obvious answer);
  • I was learning vocabulary lists via my native language which creates wrong associations and prevents natural fluency;
  • I was focusing on passive English immersion which is OK but doesn’t really help developing one’s ability to speak.

The distinct feature of the Confused One is the following:

He’s trying to do EVERY imaginable thing in order to improve his English instead of being FOCUSED on the specific problem area (in our case it’s the spoken fluency) and doing THE RIGHT THING (in our case – learning loads of English speech patterns and doing a lot of spoken English practice).

The Confused One needs to be told – listen, it’s the ORAL fluency you actually need to work on, so 80% of your efforts are a waste of time (typical 80/20 rule in action) and you need to focus on speaking almost exclusively because your general English knowledge is very good!

5. The Procrastinator

The Procrastinator is a foreign English speaker who knows very well what needs to be done in order to better his or her spoken English skills, yet he keeps putting it off and never really gets around to taking real action.

Procrastination is actually a massive problem in all aspects of our lives – not just spoken English improvement – and it comes quite naturally to human species because we’re naturally wired to go for the easiest options in life.

It requires willpower and self-motivation to achieve just about anything in life, and spoken English improvement is no different.

You can read my blog all you want and you may feel truly empowered having watched some motivational video on my website, for example, yet you’ll never really improve in the spoken English department unless you TAKE ACTION.

Engage in regular spoken English practice sessions.

Exercise your mouth.

Become the Achiever!

But never be the Perfectionist.

6. The Perfectionist

Over the years I’ve witnessed an awful lot of perfectionist attitude online (happens in real life as well, of course!) when those foreigners possessing very decent English won’t hesitate to preach and belittle those fellow foreigners whose English mightn’t be as good as theirs.

It’s pathetic.

Just because your English is almost perfect, doesn’t mean you’ve rights to be condescending towards other foreigners, point out their mistakes and judge them by your super-high standards!

First of all, most of us, foreigners, are aware of mistakes we’re making and just because we say things wrong doesn’t mean we don’t know the correct way of saying them.

Secondly, belittling someone has NEVER resulted in the other person taking the right course of action. The Perfectionist is merely boosting his or her own ego by making the other person feel miserable, that’s all!

Thirdly – there’s a very good chance that the Perfectionist isn’t that good at spoken English himself. I would really like to meet some of those perfectionists whose online commentary I’ve read to see how their fluency stacks up to mine. I’m pretty sure that on most occasions all that bravado simply compensates for their own lack of oral fluency.

And lastly, let me tell you that the spoken and the written word are two different kettles of fish. Just because the Perfectionist reigns in his domain of written English, doesn’t mean that the same standards apply in every day conversations.

In fact, nothing could be further from the truth!

When you write, you have all the time in the world to construct perfect English sentences and pick the right words. When you speak, on the other hand, you have to improvise, you have to tap into your active vocabulary and you can’t possibly use all the same means of expression as when writing.

The Perfectionist is having a hard time understanding it, so I’m afraid he’s going to remain in his own bubble of perfectionism for a long, long time…

Now, which one of these types of foreign English speakers are YOU? Try to see things in perspective, put all your emotions aside, and try to be at least a bit self-critical for your own benefit!

Chat soon,

Robby

P.S. Would you like to find out why I’m highlighting some of the text in red? Read this article and you’ll learn why it’s so important to learn idiomatic expressions and how it will help you to improve your spoken English!

P.S.S. Are you serious about your spoken English improvement? Check out my English Harmony System HERE!

 

English Harmony System

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • I kind of guessed you might fall under one of those categories! ;-))

  • Francisco Javier

    I’m a mixture of the achiever, the analyst and the perfectionist.

    My sister, on the other hand, is clearly a procrastinator. She wants to improve her English but she hardly ever takes action.