Improve Spoken English

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT BELOW:

Hello, my friends!

Hello, my dear fellow foreign language speakers!

I’m Robby from Englishharmony.com and welcome back to my video blog.

Today’s topic is something that I’ve touched upon multiple times on my blog and on my YouTube channel, namely – it’s…

The Importance of Doing Frequent Self-practice.

Basically, you’ve got to be exercising your spoken English by engaging in a lot of self-practicing.

“Why?” – you may ask. It’s very simple!

If you haven’t got that many opportunities to speak with other people in real life then pretty much the only way you can maintain a high level of spoken English is speaking on your own.

It’s no different from working out your body if you’re an athlete, right, and obviously nowadays there’s millions of people engaging in all types of sports related activities, even not being professional athletes for that matter, right, so basically its available to anyone. Gym memberships are as cheap as ever and anyone can join a gym, or indeed just do something at home or run, which is my thing personally – I’ve been a runner for six years now, or slightly more, right.

So basically, when you work out your body, more often than not, you just do it on your own.

You don’t necessarily engage in team sports, so if you draw parallels between speaking with other people and playing team sports games such as football or soccer, depending on where in the world you come from. Soccer, that’s American because football in America is American football which is a totally different ball game altogether, right. (This was an idiomatic expression.)

If you say that something is a totally different ball game, it simply means that this thing that you’re talking about is a completely new thing, right, but ironically enough, I was talking about ball games and I was actually using that expression in which case, it’s not so idiomatic anymore because American football and European football are the so called soccer, right, it’s a totally different ball game, but what was I talking about initially? You see, I have this bad habit of straying off the subject because I keep talking and talking…

We were talking about speaking with other people is pretty much the same as being engaged in team sports but working out on your own is the same as doing some spoken English practice on your own and there’s nothing wrong with that.

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Improve Spoken English

Another day – another English idiomatic expression!

Today we’re going to look at the following English phrase which I’m sure will come in handy for you:

IT CAME TO LIGHT THAT…

This expression can be used whenever you FIND something OUT.

In case you’re wondering why I’m giving you this English idiom in this exact way (Past Tense) instead of keeping the verb in its infinitive form: “To come to light” – it’s because most likely you’ll be using this expression when talking about something that happened in the past!

What’s the use of memorizing this exact English sentence “TO come to light” if every time you’re going to have to modify it to suit the context which is most likely going to be in the Past Tense?

It’s so much easier to speak if you actually memorize the phrase the EXACT way you’re going to use it!

Here’s a couple of example sentences containing the phrase IT CAME TO LIGHT THAT…

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Improve Spoken English

Hello boys and girls! ;-)

In today’s English idiomatic expression video you’re going to find out how to use the following collocation:

MAY HAVE BEEN LED TO BELIEVE THAT…

Yes, it may seem like a very complicated English grammar construct because it’s Passive Voice, Present Perfect and it also begins with MAY – basically it really looks like a handful when you try to pronounce it first time around.

You’ve got to bear in mind, however, that the key to English fluency is AUTOMATION. Just repeat it a good few times and you’ll realize that it’s not that difficult after all!

Also, you also have to stop analyzing the sentence MAY HAVE BEEN LED TO BELIEVE THAT… from the grammar standpoint and wonder WHY you have to say it this exact way.

All you need to start using it in your own daily conversations is being able to say it without much thinking in the right situations:

  • When pointing out to someone that something they believe in isn’t really true
  • When pointing out that something everyone believes in general isn’t the way it seems

So, watch the video above for more example sentences containing today’s phrase, and I’d be really glad if you posted comments below this blog post on how you’d use this collocation.

Give me some example sentences!

Cheers,

Robby ;-)

English Idiomatic Expressions

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Improve Spoken English

There was a time when I didn’t have a clue what the “schwa” [ə] sound was.

I’d heard people say this strange word – “SCHWA” – and it got me thinking “What the hell are they talking about?! It must be something quite complicated because it sounds smart…”

As is often the case though, the seemingly complicated matter turned out to be a very simple thing – the “schwa” [ə] sound is nothing more than an unstressed vowel sound which occurs in A LOT of English words:

  • About [əˈbaut]
  • Bank account [bæŋk əkaunt]
  • I don’t know what to do! [ˈaɪ ˈdount ˈnou ˈhwat tə duː]
  • Can you help me? [kən ju ˈhelp ˈmiː]

So far so good, right?

Well, turns out it’s not all that simple! ;-)

There are a lot of languages in the world, and it’s not that easy for everyone to get the schwa sound just right.

Recently, for example, I received a comment by one of my blog commentators Juhapekka in which he raises concerns over pronouncing the English schwa sound while being a Finnish speaker himself.

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English Collocation: Eagerly Anticipating

by Robby on October 28, 2014

Improve Spoken English

Hello boys and girls! ;-)

Today I’m bringing you another English collocation, and this time around it’s the following one:

EAGERLY ANTICIPATING

These are the exact words native English speakers use to describe the excitement of awaiting for something to happen, basically it’s when you want something to happen very, very much and you’re so anxious that you can barely contain your excitement!

We all eagerly anticipate something.

My blog readers eagerly anticipate new videos and new articles to appear on my website.

I eagerly anticipate new comments on my blog and my YouTube videos so that I can respond to them and be of use to the English Harmony community.

But what is it that you eagerly anticipate?

Write it in the comments section below, and let me see that you can use the new English collocation EAGERLY ANTICIPATING in a sentence :!:

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Creating New English Sentences is Waste of Time

Does the following scenario ring a bell with you? ->

  • You’re looking at a list of new English words given to you by your English teacher
  • Your task is to use each of those words in a new sentence
  • You’re going mad trying to think of example sentences…
  • Eventually you create sentences in your native language containing those new words and then you translate them into English!

Needless to say, this entire exercise is a total waste of your precious time and chances are, you’re not going to be able to use those new English words even when you’ve managed to insert them into sentences!

Why?

Well, keep reading this article and you’ll learn a thing or two about such practice of creating new English sentences using new vocabulary words – and you’ll also find out why learning READY-TO-GO sentences instead of creating new ones is the BEST way of acquiring those new English words!

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Improve Spoken English

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT BELOW:

Hello boys and girls, and welcome back to English Harmony video blog!

I just wanted to let you know guys that today I got an invitation to Dublin Horse Show; but what did I just say?

Was it Dublin Horse Show or Dublin Horror Show? You see, I said it quite fast: “I got an invitation to Dublin Horse Show!”; it could have actually been either, horse show or horror show. There is no sure fire way of telling which one it was. It all depends on the context my friends, and this is one of those things that so many foreign English speakers just won’t accept.

Sometimes when you don’t really understand what the particular word means, people start getting all confused and complain about double meanings in the English language and how can they possibly understand all the meanings of a single word, but the answer is the context my friends, obviously. Just the first time around when I mentioned Dublin Horse Show, you probably would be a little bit doubtful what show I meant but then in the conversation that would quite naturally follow that, you would realize what I’m talking about.

If I say, “I got an invitation to Dublin Horror Show and I’m going to bring a zombie mask with me”, obviously I’m talking about a horror show, something like a horror walk, something like a Halloween’s day parade where I want to put on some different masks and go trick and treating around town and knocking on people’s doors and getting sweets, and sometimes getting some abuse as well.

If I was to say that I’m going to a Dublin Horse Show and I’m going to watch how horse riders are show jumping then obviously it’s all about horses.  It couldn’t possibly be horror show, right, so as I said, context explains everything.

Context clarifies everything and I suggest you check out this link if you haven’t already done so previously while watching my videos and browsing my blog, and in this article, there’s a video as well.  You can perform a test and see how these words co-locate, how they go together and that’s all about the context you’re learning basically. You acquire a vocabulary contextually. A word is never on its own, and even if there’s a few words together, such as Dublin Horse Show, there’s always some more context to follow. It’s never just a single phrase on its own!

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You should ACT rather than REACT during English conversations

Improve Spoken English

I’m pretty sure that you can remember having a conversation with another English speaker during which you felt quite insecure and didn’t quite know what to say when responding to the other person’s questions – or maybe the other person didn’t even ask you anything and did all the talking themselves!

Here’s what would typically happen during such conversations.

“Hello Sergio, how’s it going?” (this is the other person initiating the conversation)

“Ah, well, I’m doing OK, thanks for asking, and how are you?”

“I’m all right, I’ve got the Monday blues all right, but what can you do when you have to bring another paycheck home at the end of the week, isn’t that right? Anyway, I went to see the football game on Saturday – the Falcons where taking on the Giants and you’d never guess who won the game! The Falcons had to beat the Giants to end their losing streak so they were giving it all they had, but then suddenly…” – and your conversation partner just goes on and on and on…

… and you’re just left wondering when YOU are going to get a chance to say something!

Personally I wouldn’t even call this type of one-way communication a conversation – it’s just one person’s MONOLOGUE and you’re a passive listener, nothing more.

I warmly suggest you take matters into your own hands and make the conversation sound something like this:

“Hello Sergio, how’s it going?”

“Hi John, not too bad actually!”

“That’s good, yeah… Listen, I went to see this football game on Saturday…”

“Hey John, sorry, but I’m not really into football! Ice-hockey is what I prefer, and my team is having a really good run this season! The Rangers, on the other hand, are performing really badly unfortunately – my son roots for them and while I’m happy Boston Bruins are at the top of the league, I don’t like being too enthusiastic about it because it makes him unhappy!”

Now, did you see what happened here?

YOU became the one who delivers the speech, and John had to listen to what YOU are saying instead of making you listen to what he wants to say!

Obviously I’m not trying to say that you should interrupt everyone who starts telling you something, I hope you realize this was an exaggerated example to make you understand one thing:

If you only REACT during English conversations and allow other people to adopt the leading role, you’ll never get a chance to speak and develop your fluency!

Be more daring :!:

Don’t be afraid to say what you want to say – even if the other person mightn’t be really interested in it!

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Hello boys and girls! ;-)

I haven’t posted any English idiomatic expression videos lately, so I figured why not record one and put it up on YouTube and on my blog so that you can learn something new!

Today’s phrase is the following:

TO GO THE EXTRA MILE

and if you want to find out how it’s to be used in real life English conversations, please watch the video above. In this video I’m providing 3 examples of using this particular idiomatic expression, but obviously there’s a whole lot more ways of using it when communicating with other English speakers.

The expression TO GO THE EXTRA MILE can be used whenever you want to describe someone making extra effort – if you think about it, it actually makes a lot of sense. Walking another mile when you’ve already walked the entire way quite obviously involves some extra work, and apparently at some stage native English speakers started using this phrase to describe making extra effort in general.

So, watch this video, do some spoken English practice with this expression in order to cement it into your brain, and if you’ve any questions in relation to this phrase – let me know in the comments section below!

Cheers,

Robby

English Idiomatic Expressions

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Learning English is actually hard

Improve Spoken English

Have you ever heard a native English speaker make a comment about some foreigner which clearly shows their irritation with the fact that the said foreigner doesn’t speak in English fluently enough or can’t understand what the native English speaker is saying?

I’ve been the target of such judgmental, opinionated thinking myself as well as witnessed other foreigners becoming targets of unfair treatment just because they didn’t understand what they were told or weren’t able to say something in English, and here’s a typical scenario of how such treatment manifests itself:

  • A native English speaker says something to a foreigner very fast, or even worse – with a strong local accent.
  • The foreigner has NO IDEA what he was just told, and oftentimes he’s too embarrassed to say anything in response – he’s just smiling or nodding his head in agreement just so that the native English speaker would go away and leave him alone.
  • The native English speaker then makes a comment about the whole situation by saying something along the lines of: “It’s about time they started learning some English…” or “He’s been working here for so long and still he has no English at all!”

All I can say about that is the following – those native English speakers have NO IDEA of how difficult it actually is to learn a language :!:

They have no idea that it’s impossible for foreigners to learn English by listening to very fast speech spoken by locals so they don’t even bother slowing their speech down thus making it impossible for the non-native speaker to understand them.

They think that English is somehow “picked up” by foreigners simply being around English speakers, but in reality nothing could be further from the truth.

One has to make a lot of CONSCIOUS effort in order to learn English and be able to understand others as well as speak the language, and it requires many hours of spoken English practice to get to a level where the foreign English speaker can finally start speaking with other people in English comfortably.

Some native English speakers may have been lead to believe that picking up English is fairly simple by the analogy of small foreign children of pre-school age – they start speaking in English pretty fast once they start going to a kindergarten or school so surely adult foreigners should be capable of the same, right?

Not really :!:

You can’t really compare small children with adults because children have no fear of making mistakes and they can speak ALL THE TIME thus improving their English very fast whereas for many adult foreigners at work opportunities to speak are quite limited – not to mention the embarrassment and judgmental treatment which are LIMITING their potential.

All in all, learning English is quite a tricky process for the average foreigner, so let’s look at the various aspects of it a little bit deeper.

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