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…)
Are you making these collocation mistakes?
Don’t Analyze Your English – Part 2: Why Questions Beginning With WHY Are the Worst!
Don’t Analyze the English Language Too Much – It’s Not Good for Your Fluency!
What Happens When You Don’t Learn English Contextually?
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! One of my blog readers posted a piece of English writing on my blog here and asked me what was wrong with it. Having taken a closer look, I quickly realized that the author of that piece had used quite sophisticated language, but the words just didn’t go together which was a telltale sign of lack of contextual English learning! So here it is: Now, it’s no secret that in order to learn to speak and write in English in a native-like fashion you have to embrace the concept of contextual English learning. Well, I guess I should put it this way – it’s no secret to those who’ve been following my blog and watching my videos. (more…)
How to Organize English Phrases for Optimal Learning
Why Can’t I Use All Those English Phrases and Collocations?
VIDEO TRANSCRIPT BELOW: Hello, everyone! I'm Robby from English Harmony and welcome back to my video blog! In today's video, I'm going to address a particular issue that has been raised by a number of my customers and some of my Fluency Star coaching clients. And, to be honest with you, what prompted me to record this particular video was a comment I got from one of my blog readers, and that particular person says that he or she - I'm not really sure - they have been practicing their spoken English for around four years, half an hour a day at least, which is quite a lot! It's quite sufficient to improve your English to a great degree over the period of four years to be honest with you my friends, right? So, basically, they've been doing that, but they still find it difficult to implement the phraseology and collocations they learn in those practice sessions. So, the basic issue is: How to make sure that you can actually use all those collocations as you go about your daily spoken English practice? And, furthermore, for those who might be finding themselves in situations where they have to speak with other people on a regular basis, it begs another question: How you can actually use all those collocations and phraseology in real life conversations? And let me tell you right up front - this is something I haven't I guess specified previously on my blog and on my videos, which is quite surprising considering I've been running this YouTube channel for a good few years, right? So, basically, the thing I have to mention is that there's two types of collocations, right, two types. (more…)
Collocation “Scour the Web” & Why the Word “Scour” on its Own is Useless!
More Proof That Context and Associations Play Crucial Role When It Comes to Spoken English Performance
Not so long ago I published an article where I discussed the connection between English fluency, mental associations and context. I’ve touched upon this subject before, but recently I gave it even more thought after reading a book called “Kluge – The Haphazard Construction of the Human Mind”. I bought it on Amazon for 4 pennies, and it’s given me the best return on investment I’ve ever achieved in terms of my personal intellectual improvement! The book is very interesting because it looks at different aspects of human behavior and reveals a constant struggle between our rational, decision making mind and our ancestral, reflexive part of brain. To cut the long story short, the book was very interesting for me as an English fluency mentor because it highlighted the fact that we, humans, learn and retain ALL knowledge contextually. Our brain’s information storage facility isn’t structured in an efficient way which would allow us to access and use information as we see fit. Way too often it’s actually quite the opposite – sometimes we can’t recall what we really need to remember (think of those situations when you just can’t think of the right English word to say!), and on other occasions we have random English words popping up in our minds preventing us from expressing our thoughts clearly and properly… In other words, the language processing part of our brain relies heavily on context, associations and emotional ties between the English phrases and words in your memory and your past experience, events and other English vocabulary and phraseology :!: Actually this revelation isn’t anything new – if you give it more thought, you’ll realize that it’s all common sense. For instance, weren’t you aware that you can’t memorize and bring up memories in your mind at your will, just like you’d look up database records? Of course we all know that, and that’s exactly what I’m talking about! If human brain worked like a data storage unit, we’d all speak English like native speakers. After reading or hearing something in English just once, we’d be able to precisely repeat it – what a wonderful world would it be then! (more…)
4 Pieces of Evidence That Past Experience, Context and Mental Associations is Everything When it Comes to Spoken English
3 Ways of Hard-wiring Unnatural English Collocations into Your Brain
5 Ways of Learning Natural English Collocations and Creating Useful Vocabulary Associations
I’ve been blogging extensively about creating wrong associations in your mind between English words and also English vocabulary and your native language. This time let’s look at how to create natural collocations so that you wouldn’t blame me for focusing only on the negative! Learning new English vocabulary in context is very important because if you come to think of it, the smallest language unit is a phrase as opposed to a word. Learning separate words is so old-school; if you really want to be fluent you need to feel instinctively how things are said in English naturally and in what context certain words are used. If you translate directly from your native language when speaking in English, most of the unique characteristics of the English language will be lost on you – starting with English idioms and ending with specific terms – and that’s why contextual English learning is so important. (more…)
Unnatural Collocations and Wrong Mental Associations
I've highlighted the importance of learning English collocations in many of my previous blog posts; this time let’s look at what happens if you create wrong associations in your mind between words in English as well as in your own language. If it doesn’t sound believable, just think of such quite a realistic situation. An ESL student is learning how to conjugate the verb ‘to be’ so he’s reciting the string of words “I am, you are, he, she, it is, we are, you are, they are…” in order to memorize the personal pronouns with the respective form of the verb ‘to be’. Now, when the student has repeated the aforementioned sequence of words for a good number of times, it imprints itself into his mind, and the desired effect has been achieved. Of course, for those words to stick with the student permanently, he needs to go back to them the next day, and then after a few more days – that’s the basic principle of spaced repetition. Anyway, the job is done, and the English student is now capable of using the verb ‘to be’ in real life conversations, isn’t that right? All right, fair enough! But now let’s try to remember how many times you’ve heard a foreign English speaker mix up the two personal pronouns – ‘he’ and ‘she’ – when speaking? I would say it happens quite often, and by the way – haven’t you made the same mistake at some stage during a quick chat in English? I have, and I have my own theory on why it happens. It’s all because wrong association has been created between the pronouns ‘he’ and ‘she’ when repeating the words “… he, she, it is…” :!: You’re training your mouth to pronounce those two words together in one phrase and later on even years after you were just a beginner English learner, you may catch yourself saying things like “You know, I haven’t seen her before. He… sorry, she… hmm… she is Jennifer’s sister and is going to work here for the next half year while Jen is away.” Had there been a strong separate connection created between words ‘she is and ‘he is’ followed by a contextual example or an abstract image of a male and female, you wouldn’t be making such mistakes. Your subconscious mind would be used to describing activities where females are involved as “she is…”, so I’ll say it once again – it’s all about unnatural collocations, and I have loads of advice in store for you on how to avoid creating wrong associations in your mind! Did it pique your interest? Then read on! (more…)
Learn English Irregular Verbs Through Collocations, Idioms and Phrasal Verbs
Mimicking – The Best Way to Learn English Collocations!
If you read my previous blog post about English collocations, you’ll remember that a collocation is a group of two or more words that are naturally used together in written and spoken English – such as “a tough decision”, “renewable energy”, “foreseeable future” or “to draw a comparison between.” Many collocations are strong, which means that you if you replace one of the words with a synonym, native English speakers would notice that it doesn’t sound right. For instance, if you say “replenishable energy”, it would sound a bit odd because “renewable energy” has been accepted worldwide as a standard way to describe energy sources like wind, water and solar energy. Many collocations aren’t that strong. For instance if you say “a hard decision”, it sounds absolutely fine despite “a tough decision” being a standard collocation you’d find in English Grammar books. But why is it important for us, foreign English speakers? Why should we care about English collocations? The reason is simple enough. Bonds that keep words together in collocations also determine word PATTERNS in spoken and written English in general :!: We may be under impression that collocations were invented by English teachers in order to annoy students and make their studies harder. (Frankly speaking, I can partially agree with this if collocations are looked at as a separate section of English language studies instead of being used as an integral part of speaking and writing English.) In reality if we, foreigners, want to achieve English fluency we need to incorporate learning collocations in our daily English improving routine as part of acquiring new vocabulary and phraseology. You just can't ignore natural English word patterns otherwise your English will sound weird, simple as that! But don’t cram long collocation lists into your brain. Be selective! (more…)
How To Make Your English Sound Right? Use Collocations!
Don’t Translate Directly When Speaking English!
Hi Boys and Girls! I’m back with the second video episode – and I hope you enjoyed the first one! I’m still getting a hang of the video recording equipment in my home studio – so you may spot some small glitches here and there. But I think the video quality is decent enough for you to understand what I’m saying, what you think? So this time I’m covering a few seemingly unrelated topics – direct translation to English from your native language and English collocations. However, it just takes a few minutes to grasp the connection between those two. (more…)