Just Because You Have English Textbooks Doesn’t Mean You Possess That Knowledge!

By Robby

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Video Transcript Below:

Hi guys, and welcome back to Robby’s English Harmony video blog or if you’re listening to this as an audio file, welcome back to English Harmony podcast.

Now, today’s subject is English books: textbooks, grammar books, reference books, collocation compilations, phrasal verb compilations, all sorts of English books, right? And you may possess dozens of them, but just because you have all those books doesn’t mean that you possess the knowledge.

And moreover, it doesn’t mean that you can actually use all that knowledge when speaking with other people in real life. Nothing could be actually further from the truth! If you believe that just by buying a new fancy book will somehow magically make you better English speaker, it’s just not working like that in real life. And here’s why.

You see, language learning is a quite unique discipline and it’s definitely something that I’ve been touching upon in my previous videos and articles on my blog. And why it’s unique? Here’s why. When you learn any other abstract humanitarian subject at school, for example history or geography or psychology – you name it – it’s all based on you acquiring information, processing the information, understanding what’s – what it is that you actually are being told, right? And being able to produce those facts in a written format, more often than not, right?

Basically you have to do tests to show your teacher or whoever could be assessing your test that you actually know the stuff, right? And it’s all passive. It’s you memorizing things, knowing what it’s all about and being able to reproduce all that knowledge in written format, sometimes orally.

Improving Your English Isn’t About Reading English Textbooks!

But you see, a language, right, English language more often than not is all about being able to speak in real life, right? Okay, in academic environment it’s a different story. Yes, you are required to write more often than not and actually read and listen most of the time and yes, that’s a big drawback of the academic system but it doesn’t mean that just because you have the books, all of a sudden you somehow are going to be able to be very good at writing and reading and understanding!

Even those aspects of your English language are not directly affected by the number of books you possess! You still have to read all that material, you have to retain it all.

So whatever you do, whether you engage in plenty of spoken English practicing or written English practicing, or you read a lot, you still have to do it, right? Just because you possess those books doesn’t mean that you know what’s in them. Yes, it’s great to have them as reference – beyond the shadow of a doubt, it’s better to have them than not, right?

Yes, It’s Handy to Have Books for Reference…

For example, you’re thinking of how this or that particular thing might be called in English and then you go to that book and you find it out. For example I have plenty of collocation compilations here, phrasal verbs and all those books that are normally structured by topics. So for example describing public events and then you go on there and you can see what are the most popular phrasal verbs used in that particular context, right?

… But If You’re Serious About Your English Improvement – You Just Have to Use Them!

But the point is, unless you actually do something with the book, unless you actually put some real work and effort into processing all that information, retaining it, be it in a passive way which is reading a lot, reading it through many times over until it sinks into your brain – but actually if you dedicate most of your time doing this kind of English learning, you’re not going to be able to produce it in a spoken fashion.

You’re not going to be able to – not necessarily, yes, some of it is going to retain in your brain and then you’re going to be able to use it when speaking, but most of it is going to be your passive vocabulary. One that you recognize but not necessarily know how to use, right?

But yeah, I was saying basically that you have to DO it, you have to process that information whether by purely reading or speaking out loud which is the best way. It’s hands down the best way of learning English vocabulary, phraseology. Basically you read, you listen and you speak. Basically you accompany any other activity with speaking.

Anyway, I hope that I made myself clear – just because you possess plenty of fancy books doesn’t mean that you’re going to be a good English speaker.

Someone Who Doesn’t Have Any Textbooks At All Can Be Much Better Than You!

I would say that someone who doesn’t have any books at all but is constantly speaking with other speakers and is constantly doing some spoken English practice, just like I do now, that person is going to be far superior in the spoken English department than someone who has plenty of books and textbooks and whatnot but doesn’t put them in practice.

Basically doesn’t use them to speak, to get out there and use the English language. And that’s actually the – pretty much the only purpose of any language, right? Be out there and speak with people, use the language in real life – as opposed to having the language contained within the books sitting on the bookshelf and gathering dust.

And speaking of my books, I’ve got plenty just like I told you. There was this English phrasal verb compilation and this is, for example, “English Conversations”, plenty of conversational English – idioms, idiomatic expressions which is what my English Harmony blog is all about, right? Professional English for example, this is medicine, this is specific to medicine.

You see, I had a professor of radiology as one of my Fluency Star students and I acquired this particular book to help me prepare for chat sessions with that particular student. So needless to say, I’ve got plenty of books but it doesn’t mean that I’m proficient whenever it comes to discussing those specific subjects contained within those books, right? I actually use them as tools of reference. Whenever I need something specific, I go onto them and find what I need and that’s the purpose of my books.

Other than that, I’m relying on my constant and consistent spoken English practice which I’m doing religiously on a daily basis. And that’s what keeps my fluency improving all the time.

Anyway, I’m quite sure that you’ve got plenty of other things to do, other than listening to me, so thanks for watching this video my friends, and let me know what’s the story with you and English books.

Let Me Know Your Story!

Have you got plenty of them? How are you using them? Have you at some stage in your life, have you had the wrong mindset of buying plenty of books and then you kind of consoled yourself, you comforted yourself in the fact that at least you have the books and even though you weren’t able to speak quite well, at least you had the books, therefore somehow proving to yourself and everyone else that you’re a good English student, right? You’re serious about your English improvement because you’ve got all these books, right?

And as a matter of fact I just thought of something similar that happens to a lot of people. In terms of fitness, right? So many people acquire loads of gym equipment, home gym equipment such as workout benches, free weights, dumbbells and whatnot, treadmills even and after a few weeks it all starts gathering dust in a shed or in a spare room in the house or up in the attic.

It’s typical. I would say that 90% of people who have ever purchased any workout equipment, don’t actually use it. Same goes with English books, buying a book that you would read. There’s plenty of books up there… So this is the one I’m trying to read right now, “The Infinite Sea”. But to tell you the truth guys, I’m not finding much time lately, so I don’t know what’s wrong with my reading routine. I’d been reading loads in the previous years but lately, during that last half year or so I’ve practically stopped reading.

But anyway, if you read a fiction book, that’s different. You read it for enjoyment and that’s actually my friends, one of the points that I would like to make. And read this article where I’m talking about why, for example, reading a newspaper is a hundred times better than reading a grammar book, right?

And the same goes with fiction. English fiction is something that makes you enjoy the language and you will quite naturally be forced into looking up new words and it will all be acquired contextually. And you will achieve reading fluency much faster than you ever thought it was possible. And here is an article you may want to read if you actually want to do that. If you’ve been wondering how to acquire reading fluency, this is the article you should read. But the point is, if you’re reading fiction, that’s done for enjoyment and that’s for real. That’s what you do using the English language as a medium. You read something that you enjoy!

But if you just buy a textbook, thinking – I mean that wishful thinking mindset that one day I will start doing something with that textbook… And more often than not, you will just keep putting it off till a few years later on, you will actually see that book somewhere knocking around and you will be wondering “Wow, I didn’t even know that I had that book in first place,” right?

So that’s the thing. If you buy a textbook, put it to practice! Do something practical with it. Be it do those exercises in the book or do some spoken English practice just like I’ve been telling you in almost every video, right? Do something practical with it. But don’t fall for the trap of believing that once you possessed the book, then that’s it, you don’t have to do anything with it. Just because you have it, it somehow makes you a better person, a better English speaker, right?

It’s not the case my friends!

So let me know what you think about it! Let me and let others know about your own experiences in terms of English textbooks or grammar books or reference books.

And I’ll chat you soon again my friends, 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!

English Harmony System