How Words Hook Up With Each Other in Spoken English

IMPORTANT! Please grab a piece of paper and a pen before you start reading this article as you'll be required to write down a few English words if you decide to participate in a small experiment! In this article we’ll look at how important it is to acquire new vocabulary in context, and how much time you may be wasting learning new words separately, just by learning meanings of new words or even worse – learning them through a translation in your native language. I've been discussing it on my blog and in my videos quite a lot, but I’ve never actually brought up certain examples to show you the effectiveness of learning new English words through context. So, let’s do an experiment first. It’s very important you participate in this because if you don’t, you won’t be able to feel the difference between learning new vocabulary with and without context, so please follow my instructions, all right? ;-) Basically you'll have to make effort to memorize a few quite sophisticated English adjectives but in case you know a few or even all of those words, please don’t be offended! I’m not trying to insult your intelligence by making assumptions about your English vocabulary; I’ll be doing my best to pick out a few English words that aren’t heard that often in normal daily conversations or in media. Now, please read the following five English words with the corresponding explanations and try to do your best to memorize those words and their meanings: (more…)

5 Memory Improvement Tips for Language Learners

As technology advanced and civilizations were allowed to record and externalize information, the art of memory lost its power. Many people complain that they have bad memory, forgetting that this amazing feature of the human brain can be trained. And the training is critical for language learners who need to memorize plenty of information regarding the grammar, syntax, or vocabulary of the language they're learning. Here are 5 smart memory improvement tips to help you in learning a new language! Take advantage of mnemonics The word “mnemonics” derives from Mnemosyne, the Greek goddess of memory. A mnemonic is basically any device that helps to memorize a piece of information – for example, a verse or a formula. Memory isn't about repeating a fact until it's rammed into your brain. It relies on imagination. Learning and memory are both creative processes. When memorizing new pieces of information, you form connections between disparate acts to create something new. Make sure that the image you create stands out, that's how you'll remember it for the years to come. (more…)

It’s Normal to Forget English Phrases, Expressions and Collocations!

Here’s how to improve your spoken English when reading this article: read it out loud, then read out loud the collocations highlighted in red 10 times each to memorize them, then look away from the monitor and try and say 3 sample sentences for each of those collocations! For best results record your speech so that you can go back, spot any mistakes you might have made, and then do some more spoken English practice by correcting yourself! Has it ever crossed your mind that there’s certain English phrases you’ve stopped using? Here’s what made me realize it – when I check back my older blog articles and videos, I come across certain means of expression I don’t really use these days! For instance, when I watch my videos recorded back in 2011, I notice that back then I was using the phrasal verb COME ALONG quite often, and come to think of it, these days I don’t really use it anymore! Here’s another example – when I was updating my Fluency Star website, I read a sentence I’d written a couple of years ago: “… students OUGHT TO be punished…” and it immediately made me remember the TV show Mythbusters where Jamie was using this English auxiliary verb quite often, and I’d picked up that habit from him. Nowadays I don’t really watch Mythbusters anymore, and as a consequence I’ve actually stopped using OUGHT TO in my own English writing and conversations! Now, quite naturally it might beg the question – is this a worrying trend? Should I be concerned that I don’t use certain English means of expression anymore? Is that indicative of worsening English skills? Or maybe it means I have some sort of a memory problem and I should get checked out for an early-onset Alzheimer’s? ;-) Well, it’s not all that bad, my friends! I’m not developing dementia any time soon, and neither are you – forgetting certain English means of expression is totally normal, so please read this article to find out why it happens! (more…)

Forget About “Words of the Day” – Learn How to Use Known Words in a New Way!

How to Develop Your Ability to GUESS New English Word Meanings

Here’s how to improve your spoken English when reading this article: read it out loud, then read out loud the collocations highlighted in red 10 times each to memorize them, then look away from the monitor and try and say 3 sample sentences for each of those collocations! For best results record your speech so that you can go back, spot any mistakes you might have made, and then do some more spoken English practice by correcting yourself! May I ask you a question – what do you do when seeing an unfamiliar English word? Here’s what people normally do: Look up the new word in a dictionary Ask someone what it means Forget about it and only look it up if seeing it for the second or third time But have you ever tried to GUESS the meaning of the unfamiliar word? Well, not that many people try to do that, but it’s worth to give it a shot! Don’t be immediately looking up the meaning of the new word, try and think a little bit if you can find any connection between the new word and some other English word that you’re already familiar with! Let’s imagine for second that you’re not familiar with the following word – “enclosure”. If you just tell yourself – “I haven’t got a clue what “enclosure” is!” – it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and you’re not going to figure out what it means simply because you’re not even trying to do it. If, on the other hand, you’re thinking along the following lines: “Hold on, “enclosure” – it might have something to do with the word “close”, right? So there’s a good chance it defines something that is closed…” – you’re opening your mind and tapping into your brain resources. This type of thinking will develop a more thorough understanding of the English language and its vocabulary and will provide a small boost in all areas of your English development – comprehension, reading, and speaking. And on top of that, I truly hope that this article will serve as an eye-opener and make you realize that a lot of English words are related! ;-) (more…)

Differences Between Your Active and Passive English Vocabulary

How to Learn English Synonyms and Antonyms Effectively

Here’s how to improve your English listening skills when listening to my video: put the headphones on, playback the video and write it all down while listening to it! Video Transcript Below: Hi guys, hello boys and girls, hello my dear foreign English speakers and welcome back to Robby's English Harmony video blog! In today's video I'm going to address the following topic: how to learn English synonyms and antonyms effectively. And the reason for me recording this video I got asked this question by one of my blog readers and I decided that I have to record this video because I haven't actually addressed this question in any of my videos or articles over the last 8 years if I'm not mistaken. So synonyms and antonyms. Let's address the synonyms first. And I've taken a simple word which is CONTROVERSIAL in our case. And I've entered it up in a website called thesaurus.com where you can find a large number of synonyms and antonyms for any word imaginable, right? So controversial, and the synonyms as per this website are as follows: contentious, disputed, dubious, questionable, arguable, argumentative and so on and so forth. So it begs the question how can you learn them all, right? (more…)

Seeing Forgotten English Words the Next Day & the “Gut Feeling”

- Video Transcript Below - Hi guys and welcome back to Robby's English Harmony video blog! Or, in case you can't actually watch this YouTube video, welcome back to my podcast! Right? Because as a matter of fact, I'm publishing every single video in two formats. One as a traditional video format which gets uploaded onto YouTube, and the other one is the audio file, mp3 file which gets uploaded onto the server and it's accessible on my website. I post it right above the video or, alternatively, you can actually access all those podcasts on iTunes or the other website is called Stitcher. Alright? But anyhow, today's topic is vocabulary, right? And I'm just going to tell you a few things that happened to me within the last few days, right, in terms of vocabulary acquisition and actually remembering words that you, kind of, know but you might've forgotten them, right? (more…)

Creating English Sentences Using New Words? 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! (more…)

Why You Forget English Words and How to Avoid It

Don’t Judge Other People’s English Because of Lack of Vocabulary

VIDEO SCRIPT BELOW: Hi guys and welcome back to English Harmony video blog! I'm Robby from EnglishHarmony.com and I'm your friend and mentor. Today, we're going to talk about the following thing: You should never judge other people if they don't know particular English words! Say, for example, you're talking to someone, whether a native speaker or a foreign English speaker, and you're using a specific English word that that person doesn't know. You should never judge them for it because there's around a million words in the English language. Well, some sources quote two million words but I think it's a stretch. I think a million would probably be the most realistic figure that we could put on the English vocabulary so just think about it: there's a million words in the language. Now, the average adult English speaker, if he or she is a native English speaker and they're well educated, then they might know around twenty-five, thirty thousand words, right? So, just think about the chances of them not knowing some very obscure English word that you've just learned and you're using it, right? The chances are that that person probably doesn't know that word and even if you think that this scenario whereby you, as a foreigner, say something and a native speaker doesn't understand it is VERY unlikely to happen, you are wrong, my friend! (more…)

Learn Only ONE Way of Using New English Vocabulary Words at Any Given Time!

Contextual English Vocab Building: Using TheFreedictionary.com the SMART Way!

A good while ago I published a video in which I touched upon contextual English learning and I also provided the opportunity for everyone in that video to do a simple test so that they can see for themselves how effective contextual vocabulary building is as opposed to the traditional way. Check out that video HERE! A few days ago I got a comment on that video asking for a good website to learn English vocabulary in context to which I responded by saying that TheFreeDictionary.com is one of the best dictionary websites out there containing a large array of English phrases and collocations which is exactly what you want when learning English contextually. Yesterday I got another comment by the same person asking how exactly TheFreeDictionary.com website is to be used for the purpose of contextual learning, and so I decided to record this video providing the EXACT instructions on how to look up phrases and expressions containing specific words on that website. (more…)

New English DIY Terms I Learned This Summer While Redecorating My New House

To tell you the truth, my friends, this has been the busiest summer I’ve ever had in my life so far! I’ve been spending days in my 9 to 5 job, and my evenings and weekends were spent on redecorating my new house. And I’ve got to tell you – it was one hell of a job! Even though professionals got hired to do most of the heavy lifting, there was still a lot for me to do. And don’t get me wrong; the job isn’t anywhere near finished. Right now I’m sitting in my office staring out the window with no curtains and running my laptop on a battery because the socket hasn’t been connected to the mains yet! Anyhow, throughout all the stress and hardship I had to go through while dealing with the plumber, electrician, window repair men and a bunch of other folks, I’ve learned a thing or two about DIY and related stuff. Here’s a list of new English DIY related phrases and terms I’ve learned this summer while redecorating my house, and who knows – maybe you’ll find some of them handy when engaged in similar activities! (more…)

YearOfEnglish.com: Create a Habit of Thinking of How Certain Things Might be Called in English!

Hello my foreigner friends from YearOfEnglish.com! (and everyone else, of course!) This time around let’s focus on building your English vocabulary and the related habits you should create for yourself. You see, the main problem is that many foreigner English speakers believe English vocabulary has to be built the following way: Learning abstract vocabulary lists; Learning meanings of individual words; Learning translations of words from your native language into English. Now, I can rubbish all these assumptions in an instant! First of all, vocabulary lists are abstract word compilations and they have very little – if anything! – to do with your life and things YOU have to talk about on a daily basis. Secondly, fluent English speech doesn’t happen just by sticking individual words together. Every English word is actually associated with other words creating word groups or the so-called collocations. Thirdly, if you keep translating from your native language, you won’t get rid of the habit of preparing the speech in your head prior to speaking it out loud and that’s not what I’d call true fluency! If you want to build your English vocab the natural way, you’re way better off by creating a routine of thinking of what new English words you should learn as you go about YOUR DAILY BUSINESS :!: (more…)

Video for YearOfEnglish.com subscribers: Learn English Vocabulary That’s Relevant for YOUR Life!

Rapid English Vocab Building in 3 Easy Steps!

Hi guys! In today’s article we’re going to focus on English vocabulary building the smart way. The English Harmony Way, to be more specific! You see, the reason why I’m touching upon the subject of vocabulary building is simple enough. I’m getting quite a few e-mails on a daily basis along with questions disguised as YouTube comments in relation to building English vocabulary and new words. “What’s the best way to learn new English vocabulary?” “One English word has up to 50 different meanings, do I have to learn them all at once?” “I’m trying to do spoken English self-practice as advised by you, Robby, but there are many English words I don’t know…” Now, despite me having published quite a few blog posts and videos about vocabulary building over the last couple of years, it’s never hurt anybody to repeat and reiterate the main points from time to time. As a matter of fact, it’s only a positive for the simple reason that repetition is the most efficient – if not the ONLY! – way that we humans learn anything! So, here are the 3 steps for building your English vocabulary in the most effective manner possible! (more…)

Don’t Learn Some Obscure English Words that Even Native Speakers DON’T KNOW!

New English Vocabulary Word Phenomenon

Hi guys, In today’s video I’m discussing the following phenomenon which occurs when you learn new English vocabulary: some obscure English word or phrase you’d NEVER heard before, suddenly starts appearing everywhere – in news articles, in radio and TV shows, and even English speakers around you start using this word… Despite you having had never noticed it before! Is it weird or what? Here’s a typical example: I had recently learnt a new English phrase from a guy who lives in Canada ‘in my book’ which means ‘in my opinion’. At the time I thought it might be a more regional expression so I didn’t even think of trying to use it in my own daily English conversations with other people at work. And guess what? The very next day at work my Irish colleague used that expression when speaking with me! (more…)

Simple vs Sophisticated Vocabulary? It’s All Just Semantics (Interpretation)!

Have you ever caught yourself thinking that your English vocabulary needs to be spruced up because it’s too simplistic? Have you recently sat an English exam and you’re dreading a bad spoken test result because you feel you didn’t use enough of fancy vocabulary when answering questions? Do you honestly believe people will judge your English speech based on your choice of words so you’re trying to go for less-known vocabulary when speaking in English with others? Then you may want to give it a second thought because in reality there’s no such thing as simple and advanced vocabulary :!: Everything is a matter of perspective, and while everyone would agree that, for example, a word ‘doglike’ is a much simpler version of ‘canine’, there’s no real reason for that sentiment other than the fact that ‘canine’ isn’t used that often in everyday conversations. So is that all there is to it? Are English words ‘made-up’, ‘exciting’ and a sentence ‘It makes me feel so free’ ranking much lower on the alleged vocabulary importance scale than their counterparts ‘fictitious’, ‘exhilarating’ and ‘It’s a liberating experience’ just because you’d find them in the first year’s English textbook? Or are there more dimensions to this whole simple vs sophisticated English vocabulary discussion? Read the rest of this article to find it out, and also join the discussion in the comments below! ;-) Alternatively, you may want to check out this list of sophisticated practical English phrases you can use in your daily life! (more…)

How to Decide What New English Words to Learn?

I think that once past the learning stage and having large enough vocabulary to allow for free expression in nearly every situation, all foreign English speakers can call themselves fluent. Yet the process of improving one’s spoken English is lifelong, and it inevitably involves learning new English words and phrases on a regular basis. Bulk of that new vocabulary is picked up naturally during conversations with other English speakers, and to tell you the truth – anyone who spends a lot of time among English speakers will grow their vocabularies even if they don’t put much conscious effort into the process. If you’re eager to improve your English at a much faster rate, however, I bet you’re making sure to learn an extra number of new English words every now and then, don’t you? Well, if that’s the case, I’ll also hazard a guess that sometimes you’ve been wandering on what grounds you should choose new English vocabulary words to learn. Should you learn all new English words that come along regardless of how obscure they may be? Should you learn English word lists using online services such as Word Dynamo, for example? Or should you write down every new word you come across when reading English fiction and make sure you memorize them? If you often ask yourself such and similar questions, the rest of this blog post is definitely going to shed some light on the issue! (more…)

English Vocabulary Building – Part 3

English Vocabulary Building – Part 2

Vocabulary Building Part 1 | Vocabulary Building Part 3 Here we go with the next video episode – and this is the tenth one. Two and a half months in production – not bad, is it? I hope I have enough dedication to see the hundredth one online and there’s no better way to achieve it than by taking just one step at a time… ;-) This time let’s look at the following thing – eliminating your native language from the English vocabulary building process. If you’re like the majority of language learners, most likely you’re using your native language dictionary to explain new English words and phrases. You probably also have a pocket dictionary where you write down the new words and by repeating them on a daily basis they become a part of your overall English vocabulary. Haven’t you noticed, though, that you actually can’t use most of your vocabulary when you have to speak English? And have you not also noticed that sometimes when you try to think of an English word, your native language words start getting into your way? Well, it’s the typical English fluency issue I was facing for long years, and it’s partially down to memorizing new English words through my native language. (more…)

Building English Vocabulary – Part 1