My Experience in a Polish Beauty Salon & What Foreign English Speakers Can Learn From It!

OK, it’s about time I came clean about my activities involving skin rejuvenation procedures and wrinkle treatment. Yes, I’m getting older, there’s a lot of grey hair emerging on my head, so I want to do everything within my power to fight the effects of time and look young forever… Just kidding! :grin: It’s not really me who used services of the beauty salon – it was my daughter and I just brought her there. I used it as an attention grabber and I just wanted to entice you to start reading this article, which is probably just as bad as lying, sorry for that! ;-) Keep reading this article though, because I’m about to tell you why my visit to the Polish beauty salon was more than just sitting in the hall and waiting on my daughter to finish her facial procedure. I got talking to the salon owner – a Polish woman – and what struck me was the fact that her English pronunciation was nearly perfect. Seriously, I couldn’t remember meeting any other foreigner here in Ireland having such a near-native level of English accent. Or should I say – lack of thereof – because at times she sounded exactly like the local English speakers! (for your reference – English spoken in Ireland is a bit different in terms of pronunciation and grammar than its American, British and Australian counterparts.) Me and my wife were chatting with her for a while, and I started noticing another thing – her English would probably upset some radical English language perfectionists because she was making a few grammar mistakes, especially when it came to using the Past Perfect Tense and grammar constructs like Conditional 2 Simple. Not that I would ever judge her; if there’s someone who’s adamant that foreign English speakers focus on what they CAN say instead of what they can’t - it’s me! I was simply amazed at how confident she was and how fluently she spoke despite allowing a slight imperfection to creep into her speech every now and then. And you know what? It didn’t hinder the communication between me, my wife and the salon owner a bit; we could speak with her with the same ease as we’d speak with native English speakers. (more…)

FREE eBook – Practical English Grammar!

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I hate spam as much as you do and I'll contact you only to send news about improving English fluency! Right after the request you’ll receive an e-mail with a confirmation link which will bring you straight to the download page. And here’s the good news – you can read this eBook on your computer or laptop as a PDF file, you'll get a MOBI version of it in case you have a Kindle eBook reader, but if you have an iPad - you can make use of the EPUB file! Bear in mind, my fellow foreigners, that this isn’t your traditional English grammar reference book or textbook :!: This “Practical English Grammar” eBook contains my own observations, analysis and interpretation of how English grammar is sometimes much different in real life than we expect it to be, and instead of having this “why would I speak like that, it’s not what my English teacher taught me!” attitude, I’m suggesting you to make it easier for yourself to speak English by speaking exactly like native English speakers speak! There are twelve chapters in the eBook covering aspects of English Grammar that you wouldn’t have probably even heard of – such as how to substitute Present Simple Tense for Present Continuous Tense in order to sound more natural and friendly - yet they’re very relevant for us, foreigners! And don’t worry, I’m not being very technical in the eBook and I’m not using very specific English Grammar related terms. All you need to know is what the Past Perfect Tense is and what GOING TO + Infinitive Future form is and you’ll understand everything I’m writing in the “Practical English Grammar” eBook! ;-) Wishing your Happy Reading, Robby

How I Started Speaking Fluent English by Pretending to be a Gangster

Probably one of the weirdest strategies among my English fluency improving methods is speaking with a hard foreign accent - and that’s what the original English Harmony eBook was based upon. It’s actually quite straightforward if you think about it: You make an awful lot of effort in order to sound native in terms of pronunciation; You become conscious of your own speech and you start doubting yourself every time you open your mouth to say something; Your speech becomes very hesitant, your mind is racing and you find it difficult to verbalize your thoughts in English. So if you forget about the pronunciation aspect while you’re speaking by allowing your mouth to speak the way it wants, you may just be able to speak more clearly and stop hesitating and preparing speech in your head before speaking out loud. Do you want to know what lead to this discovery? It was my fascination with one of the greatest mafia films ever – “GoodFellas”! (more…)

Crash Course in American English Pronunciation & Slang: Interview With Anthony from AmericanAnthony.com!

My Opinion on Who the English Language Belongs to…

I don't think that anyone can claim ownership to the English language and tell foreign English speakers what to do. And that's exactly the impression I got while reading this article the other day! :mad: I was thinking that I should probably leave it, but I just couldn't because I'm a foreign English speaker AND a blogger, I represent my fellow foreigners and I think someone should say something about views expressed in this article. Basically this is how I understand it: we all foreigner bloggers are the same - bad English, hard to read articles etc; we're less fortunate than native English speakers having been born in the US; we'd better stop struggling with English writing - leave it to native English speakers! To be honest with you, I didn't believe I was reading it! (more…)

How to Develop the Gut Feeling for Correct and Natural English

Funny English Phrases #3 – Money & Finance

Are you prepared to learn some money and finance related English idiomatic expressions? Then watch the 3rd Funny English Phrase video and you’ll learn the following expressions: To go to the wall The check bounced To buy a lemon Never bite the hand that feeds you Money talks To make sure you add those expressions to your active English vocabulary, please read them out loud a few times, memorize them, and eventually make a conversation with yourself. You don’t necessarily have to make it funny like I did in the video; all you have to do is use those phrases in your own sentences so that you become comfortable using them in real life English conversations. Enjoy! Robby ;-)

3 Basic Rules of Effective English Communication

Whether you find it difficult to get fully involved in simple English conversations or giving speeches in front of a group of people, the same basic rules of effective English communication apply in virtually all situations. Without further ado, let’s look at the 3 basic rules of effective English communication: Rule #1: Know WHAT you want to say! Rule #2: Have EFFICIENT vocabulary and phraseology! Rule #3: PRACTICE as much as you can! Sounds too simplistic? I bet you’ll be surprised to find out how much there actually is to these simple 3 rules! Yes, it’s common sense that one needs to know WHAT to say, but if you think about it in depth, you’ll realize that on way too many occasions you’ve actually tried to say something despite NOT HAVING A CLUE as to what exactly you’re going to say! The rule about having efficient English vocabulary, however, is multifaceted. While superficial thinking might result in a simple conclusion: “Yes, of course I need to have enough means of expression to explain myself properly, what’s so surprising about this?”, there’s another dimension to this problem. Namely – the average foreign speaker often lacks confidence and isn’t aware of how much he or she actually knows, and if you know how to use your English vocabulary right, you can talk about almost any topic! This brings us to the third rule – frequent practice. Yes, also a very simple and common-sense suggestion; yet way too many foreigners expect to be effective communicators without trying hard enough. Just because you’ve spent years studying the language doesn’t mean you’ve become a fluent English speaker, and frequent practice is paramount when it comes to English fluency! (more…)

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…)

How Repetition Happens in Real English Conversations and Why It’s Important to YOU!

Incredibly Powerful and Super-Simple Way Of Using Google to Find the Right English Words to Say

It happened this morning. (By the way - Happy Paddy's Day :!: - here you can watch a video I made last year!) I was about to publish yet another tweet on my Twitter account where I’m tweeting the most commonly used English phrases, idioms and collocations. This time around, I wanted to tweet an English idiom “on the off chance” which means “in the unlikely event”: As always, I started writing a sample sentence containing the idiom “on the off chance” – just to give my Twitter followers a general idea of how this particular expression is used. So, I started the sentence with “On the off chance…” and then I was about to continue with a conjunction ‘if’. A split second later it just didn’t seem right, however, that the sentence should be “on the off chance if…” I’m sure you’re familiar with the feeling when you say something in English, but it just doesn’t seem right, aren’t you? This “gut feeling” develops along with your English fluency, and it can be explained by highly developed contextual links among English words in your inner vocabulary. Speaking in simple terms, it means you’ve heard and used certain English phrases so many times that you intuitively know in what context they’re normally used. In the example with creating a sentence containing the English idiom “on the off chance”, I intuitively felt that it might not normally be followed by the conjunction ‘if’; it just didn’t sound right. A few nanoseconds later another viable option crossed my mind – ‘that’. The sentence seemed to flow so much better with ‘that’ than ‘if’ – “On the off chance that…” But how to make sure I get it 100% correct? (more…)

Is it Possible to Achieve English Fluency While Living in a Non-English Speaking Society?

Should Japanese and Vietnamese English Speakers Bend Over Backwards to Get Their Pronunciation Right?

I have customers from all over the world – Brazil, the United States, Australia, Japan, Philippines, Arab Emirates – you name it! Also, the native background of the English Harmony System’s owners is as diverse as the countries they reside in. I have Arabic and Chinese speaking customers from the States, Hindi speakers from the UK and Brazilian Portuguese speakers who live in Australia. It just goes to show how widespread the English fluency issue is and how often foreign English speakers have developed their understanding and reading skills at the cost of their spoken fluency just because it’s a conventional wisdom that one needs to focus on reading and writing in order to become fluent. It’s wrong, of course, and that’s what the English Harmony System does – it rearranges your English knowledge by forming natural English speech patterns so that you can speak more fluently and confidently. Anyway, there’s one aspect the English Harmony System doesn’t cover, and I don’t touch upon it on my blog often, either. Namely, it’s English pronunciation. Well, I actually do mention pronunciation when it comes to discussing fluency and the fact that many foreigners are trying to speak with perfect pronunciation which may actually have quite the opposite effect on their ability to speak fluently. In other words, I’m always saying that you have to speak and pronounce English words in a way most comfortable to you, and that you don’t have to be too hung up on being perfect  :!: But then one day I got an e-mail from one of my Japanese customers and it got me thinking if there might be more to the pronunciation aspect than I had thought. (more…)

English Harmony Highlights of February 2012

Blog post I want you to check out first of all is the announcement of the digital download version of the English Harmony System 2.0 going live, and it’s really good news for those who’ve always wanted an immediate access to the product after the purchase is made. The only difference between the download version and the physical product is that you need an Internet connection to use the download version of the English Harmony System, so if you want to play safe and use the System on your laptop when you’re not connected to the Internet, you might as well pay those extra few bucks and get the DVD package delivered to your doorstep worldwide for free. And – you’ll still get the download, so it’s a win-win no matter how you look at it! Now let’s look at one particular strategy of English fluency maintenance that definitely warrants your attention. It's an article is about using reverse psychology in order to deal with English fluency issues. It’s definitely worth your time and if you only have a few minutes, it’s the only February blog post I want you to read! It’s controversial, it’s crazy, and your first impression might be that by implementing the reverse psychology strategy you might only make your matters worse! Well, you are totally right IF you don’t experience those terrible fluency issues when you get tongue-tied and unable to say anything reasonable. Those who’ve tried all my fluency management strategies and still encounter situations when it’s very difficult to maintain fluency at a normal level, this reverse psychology approach might just do the trick! (more…)

Is It OK to Point Out Mistakes Made by Others?

“In this context you should have said “I’ve been meaning to do this” instead of “I was meaning to do this”…” “Sorry, but you got it wrong. It’s “Wellington boots” with “W”, not “Vellington boots!”” “I’m pretty sure you meant “coarse language” instead of “hoarse language”, which is not the correct way of using this word. You must have mixed up the two words – “coarse” and “hoarse” – they sound similar but mean different things!” All such and similar corrections are nice, but did you know that sometimes such well-intentioned advices can actually do more harm than good? It can happen indeed – especially when accompanied by arrogant behavior and that superior look in the eyes which says “I’m a much better English speaker than you are, so just listen to what I’m telling you and don’t you dare to speak such incorrect English in my presence!” Even if it’s not meant to sound condescending, it can still hurt :!: Most of us, foreign English speakers, are ALREADY AWARE of the small mistakes we’re making in our daily conversations. The thing is – it’s not so easy to stop making them and sometimes you just can’t help it! So when someone points out that you just said something wrong, and you already know it yourself, it might really upset you – and others, for that matter – if it’s you giving generous advice to someone else. Anyway, I’m not trying to sow hatred here against those genuinely desiring to help other English speakers to improve their English fluency. In this blog post I’m trying to explain to those who haven’t experienced all sorts of English fluency issues, how it feels when you are already mad AT YOURSELF for making a mistake :mad: … And then you have to hear it from others! (more…)

Random Stuff – Perfectionism, English Word Chunks and Blind Faith

English Harmony System Download Version Goes Live NOW!

As you might remember, the original English Harmony System was nothing more than a simple eBook. Then I created a multimedia video course on three DVDs which took my customers' experience to a whole new level. Now I’ve taken it a step further once more. An INSTANT DOWNLOAD version of the English Harmony System 2.0 is finally ready, and my sleepless nights spent on working on technical aspects of the download version are over :!: ;-) First of all, I had to figure out how to make the nearly 5 GB large files easy to download – after all, the System consists of Flash videos and they aren’t the smallest files around. Secondly, I had to find a reliable and user-friendly piece of .exe compiler software so that the files can be easily distributed and all users can be managed. Thirdly, I had to set up the download software, integrate PayPal into it, and conduct countless tests to make sure everything works like clockwork! I’ve been working on this download version since Christmas, and now I can take a deep breath because finally completed. It works, and it’s ready to be used by you, my dear impatient foreign English speaking friends who don’t want to wait till the physical package containing the 3 DVDs arrives at you doorstep. Here’s a few facts about the downloadable version of the System: it consists of 3 .exe files – one for each of the 3 Modules – Speech Master, Confidence Mentor and Chat Assistant; it takes about 20 – 30 minutes to download all three files; the files are protected by unique registration codes e-mailed to you shortly after the purchase; constant Broadband Internet connection is required to run the System (more…)

Antonio Banderas’s Spanish Accent – So, Is His English NOT Fluent?

Speaking in English Made Super Easy – Follow my Tweets and Just Stick Word Chunks Together!

I’ve been blogging for what seems forever about the importance of learning English collocations. I’ve been always saying that the basic components of English speech are word combinations and expressions rather than separate words. And I’ve also been repeating myself ad nauseam that English fluency can be acquired much quicker if you mimic, repeat, memorize and use all those idiomatic expressions used by native English speakers in your own speech instead of sticking separate words together and applying grammar rules as you speak. I’m even making effort to highlight idiomatic expressions in my blog posts in red so that you can clearly see which English word chunks are worth memorizing! Today, I’m going to make it even easier for you. I’ll start publishing on my Twitter account any English word combinations that are worth memorizing ! Basically here’s what you have to do: (more…)

3 Lessons Learned While Living Among Native English Speakers for 10 Years

1. Native English speakers will judge your ability to speak English based on their experiences with you – not your true knowledge. Why? Simple – all they can see is your performance, they can’t get inside your head! It’s just a fact of life – you’ll be judged based on how you respond to certain situations, and you’d better be prepared to face up to some challenges if you want to come across as a good English speaker! Basically what I’ve learned is that it’s not necessarily about how well you ARE ABLE to speak in English; on most occasions it’s more important to be able to react fast, not get tongue-tied and ignore your own embarrassment (seriously, it’s not that hard. If it helps, tell yourself that even native English speakers get tongue-tied sometimes!). Let me give you an example. The other day a big customer of ours had arrived and we were all having a chat in our knitwear factory’s hall. A couple of Polish girls happened to walk by having just finished their shift and our man said something to one of them – just a friendly jest. The Polish girl obviously didn’t get what he said to her, but instead of saying “Excuse me, can you say it again?” she just smiled awkwardly and walked away. (more…)

Is it OK to Pretend to Understand What an English Speaker Says When You Don’t?

The other day one of my Irish workmates was telling me a joke. He started off speaking the way he normally does and I could easily make out what he was saying. After all – I’ve spent nearly ten years in Ireland and by now I’ve managed to understand different regional accents and also different types of speech – muffled, very fast, with word endings dropped and so on. It’s not always possible, however, to understand native English speakers, especially when they throw in some slang words and expressions you haven’t heard being used before, and the indistinct speech makes it every harder to figure out what they’re saying :!: As you can imagine, I had to pretend that I got the joke my workmate Louis was telling me and I just gave a short laugh as a sign that his joke was really good… Please, don’t blame me! I know that it’s not quite right to pretend to understand what native English speakers tell you because you run the risk of making a fool of yourself. In fact, you shouldn’t pretend regardless of the speaker’s national background. It should never be a problem to admit that you didn’t get what was being said, even if it’s another foreigner trying to explain you something! You see, denial originates in fear of being perceived as a poor English speaker, but then you can get yourself in even more embarrassing situations trying to conceal the fact that you didn’t understand something. Admitting the truth almost always pays and you should treat such moments very casually; don’t make a big deal out of them. If you radiate confidence, few people will ever think of associating the fact that you asked them to repeat what they just said or to explain what they meant with bad language skills. If, on the other hand, you’re trying to end the conversation quickly and avoid discussing the same topic, it might give an impression of someone who’s not very comfortable using the English language. So how do you know when you should definitely tell your conversation partner to repeat what they just said or say it slower and when it’s OK to pretend you understood them? (more…)

English Harmony Highlights of January 2012

Why Reading an English Newspaper is 100 Times Better than Studying a Grammar Workbook

Let’s imagine you have to pick only one English learning and improving material to take with you to a remote island. What would it be? An English grammar book? A fiction book in English? An English workbook? Never mind them all! What you need is a bunch of newspapers and your English will come along nicely! ;-) The reason why I value newspapers so highly – especially tabloids - is because their purpose is to provide normal, everyday people with easy-to-digest news and English used in them is very close to the spoken language heard on the street, at work, on TV and radio. You can read tabloids very easily and in the process you’ll acquire the same means of expression used in interpersonal communication. While some academics might hold to a view that spoken English has low standards because of abundance of phrasal verbs and informal expressions, my experience tells me tabloid language will make your communication with other English speakers so much easier. After all, what kind of conversations are you involved on a regular basis – normal, everyday chatting or highly intellectual, academically inspired discussions? I think that without a shadow of a doubt the former kind of communication is by far more necessary for the average foreign English speaker, so let’s look at the benefits of reading English newspapers and tabloids in a bigger detail. Also, you’ll find out how just by scanning tabloid headlines you can stay up-to-date with current affairs and offer your opinion on different topics when having a chat with your friends at a launch table! (more…)

It’s OK to Feel Like an Idiot – Sometimes Even Native English Speakers Get Tongue-tied!

FAQ: How to Improve My English?

At the moment of writing this article I’ve posted more than 150 posts on this blog, and they’re all dedicated to the topic of spoken English improvement. That’s why I find it slightly strange to receive e-mails asking a question “Robby, can you help me improve my English?” Normally I would reply with another one-liner – “Please feel free to browse around my website, there’s plenty of articles and videos and they’re all about improving your English fluency!” – because I just couldn’t fit everything there is to say about improving your English in one e-mail! Also, I was under the impression that such queries are most likely asked by those who haven’t bothered checking out my blog. After all, all the information is available right here, on my website, and all you have to do is just read a few articles to start seeing the big picture, right? Recently, however, I realized that it’s probably not as easy as it looks to me. First of all, I’m dealing with a host of English fluency related issues and I have to admit not all of them are relevant to those who just want to IMPROVE their overall level of fluency. For example, if you have the typical English fluency issue whereby you can’t speak on certain occasions but you’re perfectly find on others, your main concern isn’t spoken English improvement as such; in this case you want to learn how to manage your fluency and make sure you don’t get severe anxiety and lack of confidence when you experience reduced ability to speak properly. Secondly, I can also imagine that the abundance of information on my blog might be a bit overwhelming and it’s not that easy for someone having arrived here for the first time to figure out what EXACTLY they have to do to improve their English. That’s why I decided to write this 5 step plan with easy, to-the-point instructions on how to make sure your English is experiencing constant growth and improvement. Enjoy! ;-) (more…)

Isn’t It Weird That I Can Write In English Better Than Speak?

Short answer – “No, it’s not weird at all! It’s actually completely normal for any English speaker – be it native or foreign – to be able to write in English better than speak!” However, having said this, the reverse isn’t always true and I’m not claiming that all English speakers are better writers than speakers. It’s just that it’s NOT WEIRD if you happen to be a better writer than a speaker. Now, would you like to get a bit more elaborate answer to this question? Well, it’s going to take me more than just a paragraph or two to say all I have to say in this regard, so I’d better settle down in front of my laptop with a mug of coffee because writing this article is going to take me a little while. There are many aspects to the curious problem of differences between writing and speaking in English and who else would be more qualified to answer the above question than me? After all, I live in an English speaking country and I spend the biggest part of my day at work communicating with native English speakers; most of my evenings are spent writing articles for my blog and answering e-mails. Years spent on analyzing English fluency related issues have left me with a very good understanding of how one’s writing skills influence one’s ability to speak and vice versa, so let my long answer begin! So, is it weird that you can write in English better than speak? NO, and the reason number one is… (more…)