Improve English Fluency… Have A Coffee Break!

I’d like to share a funny story with you this time. As you already know, I’m not a native English speaker – and I live in a country called Ireland. I’ve been here for quite a long time and I’m not planning go back to my own country in the near future. And now I’m feeling like I’ve become a part of this whole culture, Irish traditions and everything else. But the first thing that struck me when I just arrived here was the local accent. Yes, I had studied English at home – but the way Irish spoke was something completely un-understandable! I always had to apologize and ask to repeat the same question again and again until I was able to get it! And I guess you may have experienced similar feelings having gone abroad or living in a foreign country, haven’t you? But today’s story isn’t about how well we can understand other accents and ways of pronunciation. It’s about how well the native English speakers can get what WE say. And here goes the funniest thing I’ve been telling my friends over and over again – and now it’s your turn! Whenever I go to some eatery to have a meal with my wife and daughters, or just myself, and order coffee, I don’t get coffee straight away. And please don’t think I’m being discriminated in any way – no, Irish folks are very friendly and today around 10% of the whole country population is non-nationals. And we’re very welcome in this country! No – it’s not that I’m ignored or anything similar. It’s just that Irish don’t understand I’m asking coffee… Yes, it’s really weird! The word ‘coffee’ is very simple. The pronunciation: [kofi:] – am I not right? Yes – and everyone pronounces the word this way. Imagine if you were an English national and someone asked you in a heavily distorted accent: [kofe:], or [ko:fe:] or whatever else – would you not get it? I guess – yes. But you see – I have to repeat the word around three times until the girl behind the counter says: ‘Ohh, right, you want coffee?!?’... But am I getting annoyed by this? You think I’m giving out about how unfairly I’m treated? Of course, not! It’s just another story about how different we people are and that our distinct accents and pronunciations are a part of the nature! No matter if it’s the Irish girl behind the McDonalds counter, or it’s you who has to ask someone to repeat what they just said – it’s COMPLETELY OK! It’s absolutely normal sometimes to get a bit confused, not to understand, mispronounce words and make similar mistakes. After all, we’re all humans, and humans do make mistakes, don’t we? ;-)

Get Rid of Monkeys in Your Mind!

Speech management and confident English go hand in hand with managing yourself and your thoughts. Do you often have this feeling of a racing mind? Do you feel you have hundreds of different thoughts constantly crossing your mind, repeating all over again and making you anxious and irritated? In Zen Buddhist philosophy such a state of mind is described as a room full of jumping and screaming monkeys running wild! This state of mind is very closely related to all kinds of anxieties, worries, fears – and among them the English speech anxiety. No matter how well you’re trying to speak English, you head is full of English words, phrases, sentences, grammar rules – all at the SAME TIME! You’re trying to say something – but regardless your toughest attempts you get the English grammar wrong, misspell and mispronounce words and notice this at the very moment of speaking them out! To deal with this issue of inability to speak English normally you first have to deal with monkeys in your head. Here I’ve written a few basic steps to calm down your mind and start thinking just ONE THOUGHT at a time instead of trying to encompass EVERYTHING at once. (more…)