Video Transcript Below:
Hi guys, hello boys and girls and hello my dear fellow foreign English speakers. That’s me, Robby from EnglishHarmony.com and welcome back to my video blog. And this is going to be one of those question and answer sessions whereby I’m answering to emails that my blog visitors have emailed me obviously.
Reader’s Question: I’m Fluent, but Not Fluent Enough! What to Do?
So the first email is about a particular problem faced by this person and he described the problem the following way. So he can have conversations with anyone and he can understand and reply but he is not as fluent as he would like to be. And in his own words “I’m not able to use a lot of vocabulary because it’s very difficult for me to memorize words, therefore my written skill is also very bad. I commit a lot of mistakes in spelling when I write something.” So he basically requests me to give some advice.
So first things first, it’s of the utmost importance not to perceive all aspects of the English improvement at a same time. So you’re saying that you are not as fluent, meaning you can’t speak as fluently as you would like to and then you kind of make the connection between that and your written skill, right? So you’re saying that therefore my written skill is also very bad, right?
So I’ve got to let you know that there is no direct correlation between your overall fluency and your written fluency. Obviously, obviously, if you can’t speak at all for instance chances are that your written fluency is also going to be very bad and vice versa. But what I’m trying to say is that there’s a lot of people who can speak no problem while at the same time they struggle with writing and quite the opposite which is actually the most typical case scenario.
A lot of foreigners are very good at writing – I was going to say at speaking but that’s wrong, at writing – just because the traditional English teaching methodology revolves around writing, you know? Grammar, writing, all that kind of stuff and speech is neglected. So typically you would be able to write much better than you would speak.
But your situation is – your fluency is somewhat lagging behind and your writing skills are also not the way you’d want them to be so you’re kind of making the connection “therefore my writing skills are also bad and I make a lot of mistakes in spelling.” You have to first of all perceive each area separately, right?
When you’re talking about your overall fluency skills, focus on speaking only. When it comes to writing, that’s when writing practice comes into the equation, you know? In order to be good at writing you’ve got to do a lot of writing practice. To be good at speaking you’ve got to speak a lot, okay? And when it comes to vocabulary, when you write it’s most likely that your passive vocabulary is going to manifest itself in the process, okay? Whereas when you speak, that’s when you would use your active vocabulary, okay?
Because speaking is normally associated with being able to improvise, being able to say something without much thinking. Whereas when you write you can tap into your passive vocabulary, choose better words and stuff like that, you know what I mean? But yeah, that’s what I’m trying to say basically.
First of all, perceive each area of your English improvement separately on its own and work on it separately. Obviously one can follow another, you can do some writing and then you can talk about it. You know, you can exercise your speech even as you write. And that’s actually the best case scenario. You write as if you were speaking and that’s how I learned to write and I realized that that’s the best way to write and I’ve been giving this advice to my followers on my blog for years and people find that technique really, really useful and helpful.
So basically focus on each area. Don’t fall for the trap of thinking that if you somehow magically improve your general vocabulary skills then you’ll be able to speak better and write better. There is no such thing as general skills, it is what you do. If you require certain vocabulary while speaking you’re going to be able to use that vocabulary when speaking and also writing, but predominantly speaking.
If you acquire certain vocabulary while writing – okay, maybe you read something and then you write about it and you use the same vocabulary, chances are that that word is going to be committed to your passive vocabulary meaning that you may not be able to use it when speaking.
But the fact of the matter is that you’ve got to be practicing. There’s no two ways about it. You cannot just expect somehow magically absorb some knowledge and then use it, you’ve got to be practicing. When it comes to fluency you’ve got to speak a lot. When it comes to writing you’ve got to write a lot. And when it comes to vocabulary building you’ve got to do it contextually, you know. Phraseology, word combinations; contextual learning is the key here. And you may want to click on this link to check it out and see how easy it actually is to acquire new vocabulary words as part of context. Contextual learning is the king.
So that pretty much answers this question. I’m moving onto the next one. I’m not going to bore you my friends for too long; I’m not going to make this into a half an hour long video. This is the second email and we’ll call it a day after that.
Reader’s Question: How Come I’m Confident on My Own but Not When Facing Others?
So this person expresses the following problem, right? When he is on his own he feels like he can achieve anything and he is super, super confident and I can totally relate with that.
Oftentimes when I’m considering a specific problem and I imagine how I would go about it in real life I feel on top of the world. I’m feeling super confident but then what he says is that whenever he’s dealing with real people, face-to-face interaction his confidence get shattered. And he says that other people’s presence affects him and basically how to deal with it.
It’s not actually something that unique. I would imagine that everybody, the most confident person in the world gets ever so slightly affected by other people’s presence. It’s only normal that you would behave slightly differently in front of other people compared to the way you’d be behaving just when you’re on your own.
Even now when I’m talking to you I’m kind of on my own but I know for a fact that this video is going to get published on my YouTube channel so therefore there’s this expectation, there’s this kind of feeling as if someone’s watching me a little bit so I do behave slightly differently. When I speak completely on my own, when I don’t even use the camcorder I would imagine I’m even more confident because there’s no restrictions whatsoever.
So it’s completely normal to feel somewhat different. But it becomes a problem when you feel it’s affecting your ability to perform big time. So if you were not able to – and obviously this person has that particular issue, right? They can’t talk in front of others, it’s very difficult.
So the solution is first of all, practice, practice, practice, practice, practice, practice an awful lot whenever you have chance to interact with others, talk in front of others just do it. Try and tell yourself that who cares? Who cares what the outcome is going to be, you know? What is the worst case scenario? Always try and figure out the worst, the absolute worst case scenario, right?
So imagine yourself facing a shop assistant in a shop for instance. A very simple and plain scenario, right? So you might be freaking out speaking with a shop assistant and I can totally relate to that. Years ago I was the same, right? I would be able to speak on my own whereas speaking with people in shops and other institutions was a challenge to say the least, right?
So you’ve just got to do it. Just jump in. Head first, jump into the deep end as they say. So it’s a sink or swim situation, right? And the worst case scenario would be – what would it be? That you wouldn’t be able to say anything and that the shop assistant would be laughing at you? And if you think about it obviously it’s not the case. Who would be laughing at you? That would be very rude.
Obviously, there is a remote possibility that that might happen but in reality that is not going to happen because people have to be, especially in professional environments, they have to be quite friendly and they have to respect their customers and stuff like that so they would not laugh at you.
So the worst, if you think about it logically, the worst case scenario would be that they would just ask you a question. Ask you the question twice, the third time, whatever, but the point being, it’s not as bad as you think.
It’s the fear from the unknown! If you just have that concept in your head that you’re faced with another person and then you’re thinking what is it going to be like, what’s going to happen, they’re going to laugh at me, I’m not going to be able to talk or whatever, you know. There is this abstract fear so that is your biggest enemy, the abstract fear of the unknown and that terrifies people. That terrifies even me!
Be Specific About Your Fears and They’re Going to Go Away!
So what you’ve got to do is be specific. Try and think about it, try and imagine the real life scenario and then try and outline the worst case scenario. What’s the worst that could happen and then tell yourself okay, if this is the worst thing, if the worst thing is whereby I can’t say anything and then the person is kind of going to give me some more pointers as to what I may want to say or whatever, it’s not that bad now, is it? It’s not as if someone is going to punch me in the face or whatever, it’s not that bad. And chances are you’re not going to see that person ever again, anyway.
So by employing this particular strategy you can alleviate a lot stress and anxiety and actually start putting yourself in those situations. You know, I’m not saying that you have to put yourself in front of an audience and start talking without any preparation or whatever. I’m just talking about like simple scenarios, having a very small chat with people and stuff like that and then gradually you would be building your confidence.
And obviously when it comes to events such as interviews and speeches and presentations and so on and so forth, that’s when you’ve got to do some real preparation. But as far as simple face-to-face communication goes you’ve just got to distance yourself from the abstract fear, think of the worst case scenario and then just do it, okay?
There is no two ways about it, you know? If you don’t do it you’re not going to get over it, you know? It’s as simple as it sounds. Well, obviously it’s easier said than done, it is difficult, I know that. Been there, done that. However, if you just come up with the worst case scenario and this descends yourself from the abstract, from the bigger fear of the unknown it’s going to become way easier. It’s going to be much easier my friends.
Okay, so I hope that this video is going to serve some purpose and that you’re going to find it useful and thanks for watching my friends and chat to you soon. Bye-bye!
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!