3 Life Lessons For Foreign English Speakers to Learn From ARNIE

I grew up watching Hollywood action films starring actors such as Sylvester Stallone, Jean-Claude van Damme and most notably – Arnold Schwarzenegger, otherwise known as ARNIE :!: Well, I’m pretty sure I don’t have to be telling you that Arnie’s a former bodybuilding champion having won Mister Olympia title seven times. His acting career and his trademark catch-phrase “I’ll be back” from the Terminator franchise is also something that EVERY person on the planet has heard of. OK, I’ll admit he mightn’t be THAT popular nowadays among teenagers for the simple reason that new actors are constantly replacing the older ones and jacked up guys like Chris Hemsworth, Jason Statham, Hugh Jackman and dozens of others have claimed their place in the Hollywood action film scene. You can’t deny, however, that for as long as Arnie is alive and kicking – and also beyond - he’ll be known as one of the most successful and iconic people on the planet. And guess what? He’s a foreign English speaker – just like you and me! He’s been ridiculed because of his accent, he’s lost the count of times he’s been told to stop pursuing his unrealistic dreams and did you know that up until his early twenties he didn’t speak any English at all? It didn’t stop him to pursue his dreams, however. He didn’t give a damn about his lack of English skills or his terrible Austrian accent. He focused on his dreams and goals eventually becoming the Governor of California (which is, believe it or not, the ninth largest economy in the world!) – and all that despite him not being a native English speaker! Fair enough, me or you aren’t like Arnie, but there’s still a lot we can learn from him! :grin: (more…)

What Any Foreign English Speaker Can Learn from Benicio Del Toro

One of the biggest traps that foreign English speakers fall for is trying to speak TOO FAST. You know what? Even I still fall for it every once in a while, and every time it happens I literally have to persuade myself by saying – “Robby, calm down, don’t rush, you know it for a fact that it doesn’t matter if it takes you 10 seconds longer to get the message across! Take your time, slow down and you’re going to be much easier to understand!” Yet so many foreigners are under the wrong impression that to speak fluent English you must speak fast. Well, most native English speakers would indeed speak English quite fast – just like any other native language speaker would speak their language. It’s not always the case though. There are situations when EVEN NATIVE SPEAKERS would find it hard to maintain a continuous, fast speech. Stressful environment, high expectations from others, not being familiar with the topic that’s being discussed – all these and a number of other factors may seriously impede any native English speaker’s natural ability to produce fast, continuous and uninterrupted speech. So if even native English speakers can run into such problems, why would foreigners like me and you be any different? I think that our ability to speak English shouldn’t be judged on our nationality grounds. We, just like any native English speaker, are entitled to have moments of confusion, take time to make the point, and it shouldn’t be perceived as an inability to speak fluent English. It should be taken for what it is – slower speech - and it shouldn’t be attributed to our foreign national background! On many occasions a slow and controlled manner of speech doesn’t even indicate any issues the speaker might be having. It’s just the way the particular person speaks, and whether others like it or not, they have to accept it, full stop :!: One of my favorite actors Benicio Del Toro, for example, quite often speaks slowly and takes his time choosing the right words when giving interviews. He doesn’t give a damn about what others might think about it! And mind this – he’s a Hollywood celebrity and speaks fluent English. Well, originally he’s from Puerto Rico and speaks Spanish, but he’s spent most of his life in the States and his English is absolutely fluent. So here’s what you can learn from Benicio: It’s OK to pause in a mid-sentence; It’s OK to repeat a word a number of times to buy time; It’s OK to speak very slowly! (more…)