You have to be more specific when improving your English

Improve Spoken English

This website is all about improving your ability to SPEAK in English, I’m pretty sure you’ve realized it by now! ;-)

You see – traditionally most foreign English speakers struggle with speaking because writing, reading and listening is something you’ll learn at school.

It’s only the speaking part that’s being neglected.

Usually my advice is – speaking comes first (simply because you’re already quite good at other aspects of English) and that’s what you have to be focusing upon – writing, reading and listening won’t contribute into your spoken fluency.

So the basic issue here is that nobody really tells you that being engaged in a specific English related activity doesn’t develop other aspects of your English.

If you spend most of your time reading, it’s not going to develop your ability to understand other English speakers.

If you mostly write essays, its’ not going to make you into a good English speaker.

And if you’re good at speaking, it doesn’t necessarily mean you can write just as well!

And this illustrates another issue that some English learners are facing.

Namely – all four aspects of English – speaking, reading, writing and comprehension – have kind of been merged into one thing, and instead of working on ONE aspect of their English that requires the most attention, they’re under the impression that they have to do EVERYTHING which becomes too overwhelming :!:

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VIDEO TRANSCRIPT BELOW:

Hi guys, hello boys and girls, and welcome back to English Harmony video blog!

I’m Robby and in this particular video, which is a follow up on one of my latest YouTube video called “You are what you do”. I’m going to discuss one specific aspect of the whole problem of you being what you’re doing and it was pointed out to me by Juhapekka.

He is a very prolific commentator on my blog and I really, really thank you for that Juhapekka :!:

Your ideas that you have put into your comments have served as inspiration for so many videos for me and as I said, I’m really very grateful to you for that!

So, in this particular comment Juhapekka points that… But before that, before we are actually looking into his comment, I want to remind you what the whole “You are what you do” thing is about.

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Hello my friends foreign English speakers! ;-)

Here’s another English idiomatic expression for you to learn and use in your daily English conversations and also spoken English practice sessions:

YOU DON’T WANT TO

This particular English phrase simply means “YOU SHOULDN’T…” and it’s used by native English speakers in situations when telling someone that they shouldn’t do something would sound a bit too harsh and patronizing.

Imagine yourself in a situation when you’re introduced to a new work colleague and you’re given the task of showing him the ropes (explaining how the job is done.)

You’d be telling your new colleague a lot of things that they shouldn’t do over the course of the day, so every time you’re saying YOU SHOULDN’T DO IT and DON’T DO IT, it may start sounding as if you’re annoyed with them.

Not that it’s a big deal – and if your voice and body language clearly shows your good intentions, you shouldn’t have any problems with telling someone that they shouldn’t do something.

It’s just that it may sound a bit friendlier if you use the phrase YOU DON’T WANT TO DO IT!

And here’s the exact phrases where you’d be using this idiomatic expression:

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Using English Verb to Make

This is the third article in the series about using simple English verbs to express the most diverse variety of ideas and concepts.

Here’s the first one where I looked at how to use the simplest English verb “TO PUT”.

And here’s the second one where I discussed using another simple English verb “TO GET”.

This time around we’re going to look at another very simple English verb “TO MAKE” and I’m going to show you that you can use it to express so many different things – actions, concepts and ideas – that you’ll be literally blown away by it all!

Basically the idea is to realize that you don’t necessarily have to try and find specific English verbs for every conceivable action. On a lot of occasions you can use a combination of a simple verb such as TO MAKE with another word to describe the concept.

Here’s a typical example – MAKE SURE: “You have to MAKE SURE the alarm is switched on before leaving the premises.”

If you think about it, MAKE SURE is such a simple way of describing the concept of making sure that it just doesn’t get simpler than that!

The adjective SURE describes the concept of certainty, and you just have to add the verb TO MAKE to describe the concept of someone taking action which would result in a certain outcome.

If you have the kind of a mindset whereby you can’t resist your desire to translate from your native language while speaking in English, describing even such a simple concept as “making sure” may present difficulties to you – especially considering the equivalent verb in your language most likely doesn’t consist of two simple words.

In my native language – Latvian – the concept of “making sure” is described using a longer, more complex verb (“párliecináties”), so if I were to translate from Latvian when speaking in English, I would probably struggle for a while before finding the right way of describing it in English. My mind would be trying to find a matching entry in English, but as a result it would draw a blank simply because there isn’t one!

What you have to do for your mind to stop wandering aimlessly is the following:

The English language allows us to combine the verb TO MAKE with pretty much ANY ABSTRACT NOUN thus enabling us to describe actions even when we don’t know the corresponding verbs.

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You ARE What You DO!

by Robby on January 19, 2015

Improve Spoken English

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT BELOW:

Hi guys and welcome back to English Harmony video blog!

I’m Robby, obviously, and in today’s video we’re going to talk about a very simple matter indeed. Namely – YOU ARE WHAT YOU DO.

Do You Want to Become a Fluent English Speaker?

I know – this may sound very simplistic – “You are what you do.”

Well, what’s the big deal? It’s common sense! What you do determines what you are, who you are, right? But, just think about this guys.

I still keep receiving plenty of emails on a daily basis asking for one basic thing:

“Robby, tell me how I can start speaking fluent English? How do I improve my spoken English fluency? Basically, how do I speak in English?”

So the basic need, the desire that is the common denominator among all those people, maybe including even you, is your desire to speak fluently.

Basically, that’s WHO you want to be. You want to become a FLUENT ENGLISH SPEAKER. So, if we go by the equation – you are what you do – going by that logic, it’s not difficult to draw a simple conclusion:

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Just to Let You Know I’m Still HERE!

by Robby on January 17, 2015

Hi Guys! ;-)

Just to give you a quick update on what I’m doing now and why I haven’t published any videos lately – I’m busy as hell preparing new content for the website, and I want to make sure there’s plenty of articles lined up for publishing.

Soon enough you’ll start hearing more often from me, and I promise you this – all the videos and articles I’m preparing are going to be really useful and actionable!

Chat to you soon,

Robby

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My Plans for English Harmony in 2015

by Robby on January 14, 2015

Plans for English Harmony in 2015

So much has happened during the last few months in my life…

You see, I realized I can’t really cope with such a massive workload and the only logical solution was to quit my new job so that I can do both – teach my students via Skype and maintain this blog.

If you’ve been following English Harmony for a while you’ll notice that I haven’t been posting a lot of blog posts lately. To be more specific – it’s been 2 weeks now without posting a single blog entry!

To put it in perspective – there was a time when I was publishing 3 articles every week. If you visited my blog on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, you would always find a new article or a video, but during the last few months it’s been fairly irregular.

I’ve published something whenever I could find enough time for it, but if I put myself in your shoes, I can definitely see that it’s not good enough.

I don’t have to be a genius to figure out that you’d rather come to my blog with the sure knowledge of finding new content every couple of days, so it’s the first thing I’ve planned for the English Harmony website this year:

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Happy New Year 2015! + Draw Results

by Robby on January 2, 2015

Happy New Year Everyone!

Hello, my friends :!:

Hello, foreign English speakers, native English speakers and everyone who happens to be following my blog!

Welcome back to my video blog, and this is obviously a whole new year – 2015!

And to be honest with you guys, for one split second yesterday – last night was Christmas Eve and at one stage during the celebrations, I thought that it was going to be 2016 for some reason!

But anyway, I wanted to take this wonderful opportunity and provided how far my message goes – I’ve got thousands of followers on Facebook, and YouTube, and my blog daily traffic goes beyond 1,000 visitors a day. So, I hope that this message gets heard by tens of thousands of people, right?

So, I wanted to take this opportunity and wish you all a very Happy New Year :!:

Despite all the bad things we keep hearing on the media constantly on a daily basis, I still wish you a very Happy New Year because that’s the thing to do, right? Everybody wishes one another a very Happy New Year!

And all the resolutions that you have set for yourselves, I really hope you’ll follow through with at least one of them. So, basically, whatever it is, maybe you’re giving up something, maybe you want to quit smoking or quit drinking, for example.

Or maybe you want to take up some habit that would result in something good in your life, maybe you want to join a gym, and that’s typical, right, and start working out and lose a little bit of weight and get fitter.

Or maybe it’s to improve your English in which case you’re welcome to stay with me throughout the year 2015 and keep reading my articles and watching my videos where I’m going to provide a whole lot of new information in relation to your fluency development!

So basically may all of your resolutions come true! And, obviously, we have to be realistic. We can’t expect that everything is going to be smooth and all the resolutions are going to be fulfilled. But at least one thing – if you are just successful with one thing, you can call it a major success because believe it or not most people fail miserably with most of their resolutions!

Gyms are empty – come March, and people have started smoking again, and drinking on a weekly basis or even a few times a week, which is even worse, right? And all the plans basically have gone down the drain. So, I wish you at least to fulfill one of your dreams in this New Year!

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How to reduce clauses to phrases in English

My last article for English Harmony was about when you can and can’t omit relative pronouns such as “who” and “that” from sentences. What we concluded is that you can omit the pronoun when it acts as an object, as in the sentence below:

The dog (that) Mary is petting has brown fur. (The relative pronoun “that” is optional here.)

But you cannot omit the pronoun when it acts as a subject, as in this sentence:

The dog that is eating a biscuit has brown fur.

However, astute reader Juhapekka pointed out that in examples like the above sentence, you can’t omit only the pronoun, but you can omit the pronoun plus the form of “to be” (in this case, “is”):

The dog eating a biscuit has brown fur. (This is a well-formed sentence!)

This introduces an entirely new topic in English grammar called clause-to-phrase reduction. This article will explore clause-to-phrase reduction, explain how and why it happens, and hopefully make the mysterious world of English grammar a little bit less confusing.

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Improve Spoken English

Hello guys and welcome back to the English Harmony video blog!

Obviously, I’m Robby and I don’t even know why I’m saying this every time I start a new video. It’s just one of those things I say, “Welcome back to my video blog and I am Robby.” Obviously, all of you who have been following my blog will know that I am Robby.

Who else could I be?

But, it’s just that on the off chance that there’s someone new to my blog and to the whole English Harmony thing who might be watching this video and they don’t know what my name is, I’m greeting you guys by letting you know my name – Robby Kukurs. Write it down.

Bookmark my website – EnglishHarmony.com – because it’s one of the best resources out there for those foreign English speakers who want to improve spoken English fluency, right?

And also bookmark my YouTube channel, of course ;-)

So, anyway, today’s video is about whether – what was the question? It was a question asked by one of my blog visitors I’m pretty sure because that’s where I gain most of the inspiration for creating new videos and articles. And these days, people asking me questions – whether it was an email or a comment, I’m not really sure, but it’s irrelevant anyway. I remember now.

The question was:

“How successful can I expect my fluency improving attempts to be provided that I’m 34 years old or something like that, something along those lines, 34 or 35, basically mid-30’s”.

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