English Words I Used to Mispronounce

At this stage I’ve lived in an English speaking country for more than 12 years, and I can call myself an English speaker for more than that because I was speaking the language long before I came to Ireland all those years ago. Anyway, having been an English speaker for so long doesn’t mean my language is free from errors. Every now and then I realize I’ve been making some sort of a mistake. It might be a specific English word that I’ve been using wrong. A couple of weeks ago, for example, I found out that the English word “deal-breaker” has a negative connotation rather than a positive one! I thought that if something is a “deal-breaker”, it’s the most appealing feature among all others, but it turns out it’s quite the opposite – a “deal-breaker” is the biggest risk factor! It could also be an English idiomatic expression I’ve been using the wrong way. Only this week I found out that the idiom “rule of thumb” doesn’t actually mean a very strict rule – which is what I’d thought – it actually means a general rule that can be widely applied. On some occasions though, it turns out I’ve been MISPRONOUNCING a specific word for years without realizing it, and that’s what today’s article is all about! Before we begin, just let me tell you one thing – making these kinds of mistakes is completely normal! Nobody is perfect, and I know for a fact I’ll keep correcting my English till the day I die – but I’m not feeling like my English sucks because of it. I just do it as a normal part of my English improving process, and I warmly suggest you approach your own errors the same way! And now, without further ado, let’s look at the English words I’d been mispronouncing without realizing it! (more…)

SUPER Important for English Fluency: SLOW Down Your Speech!

I can’t stress enough how important it is NOT to try and speak very fast! I’ve been doing it myself for a long, long time – mostly to impress others and HERE you can read why trying to impress others is a really stupid idea. You know yourself how it goes – you’re speaking with someone and you want the other person to feel how good your English is. It’s as if you are COMPELLED to speak as fast as native English speakers, which is also a very stupid idea on two accounts: First – people will notice that you’re a foreigner ANYWAY, Second – you should NEVER COMPARE your English with that of others because it will always make you feel inadequate! I wouldn’t be wrong in saying that speaking too fast is one of the BIGGEST mistakes all foreign English speakers are making all over the world :!: It’s the reason #1 why non-native speakers get stuck for words in English. It’s the reason #1 why we mispronounce words when speaking in English. And it’s the reason #1 why we think we suck at speaking in English. The solution to this issue is quite obvious, as a matter of fact – it’s staring right in your face: SLOW YOUR SPEECH DOWN! In real life, however, it’s easier said than done. Unless someone tells you: “Hey, just slow down a bit and you’ll be able to speak so much more fluently!”, for some strange reason you’re unable to figure it out for yourself. And even when you know you should be speaking slower, you still catch yourself trying to speak faster than your natural ability allows you. It’s like a vicious circle that you find very, very hard to get out of. So, keep reading this article and you’ll learn: Why you’re trying to speak in English very fast; Why fast speech is very detrimental to your fluency; What you can do to overcome this problem! (more…)

Learning English Phrases Beats Learning Individual Words Hands Down!

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT BELOW: Hi guys and welcome back to English Harmony video blog! In today's video I'm going to provide you with a very vivid example of why learning word groups and phrases as opposed to learning individual words is very important. As a matter of fact, it's of the utmost importance if you're really serious about your English fluency. And fluency in any other language for that matter - in case you're learning some other language on top of English. So what happened to me last week was the following. My daughter, she's participating in a German student exchange program, so basically my daughter is learning the German language and she went to Germany a few months ago and now the German partner who happens to be learning the English language came over to us, right? And she lived with us for a week. And so what happened is that I have studied some German in the past. To be more specific - it was seven years and it's a long time. In theory I should be able to speak fluent German but as you may know the traditional way of learning languages doesn't necessarily facilitate your ability to speak. And needless to say, after all these years I've also lost all the ability to understand and write and read in German. So basically there's just a few words that I recognize nowadays. (more…)

38 Typical English Sentence Endings

English Idiomatic Expression: “Come As a Surprise”

In this English idiomatic expression video you’ll learn how to use the following phrase: TO COME AS A SURPRISE There’s a number of variations to this particular phrase such as: It shouldn’t come as a surprise that… It came as a surprise to me that… … and each of them can be used in a different kind of a situation. The first one – “It shouldn’t come as a surprise that” – can be used whenever you want to express the predictable nature of some event or a person. Basically it’s when you want to say that it’s not really surprising that something happened or someone acted a certain way. (more…)

How Many English Phrases Do I Have to Learn to Become Fluent?

Don’t Try to Impress Others With Your English!

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT BELOW: Hi guys, and welcome back to Robby's English Harmony video blog! In today's video, I'm going to touch upon a subject that I've actually spoken about before, and it's the fact that you don't have to try to impress other people with your English. Typically what happens is, when you're having a conversation with someone, deep down inside you're trying to show off your English skills. You're trying to show that person that your English is up to scratch, which is another idiomatic expression for you, which means up to standards, right, basically, good enough. And more often than not, it backfires on you, which means you end up being in a worse situation than in the beginning, in a worse situation than you're starting with. (more…)

Why I Keep Talking About The Same Issues Over and Over Again

Have you been following my blog for a while? Maybe even for a number of years? Do you think I sound a bit repetitive by discussing pretty much the same things all over and over again? Guess what? I do it for a very good reason :!: Just think about it for a minute. Imagine you’re someone who’s completely NEW to the whole English fluency issue and you’ve just discovered my blog. You start reading my latest blog posts and watching my latest videos, and all I keep talking about is advanced English grammar, for example. Now, tell me honestly – would you BENEFIT from it? I don’t think so!!! You see, as a new blog visitor you have to be exposed to the right kind of information that will allow you to go through all the following steps: Recognizing the English fluency issue; Realizing WHY it exists; Finding out HOW it can be dealt with. So, as you can imagine, if I didn’t touch upon the same topics in almost every article or video (you must have noticed I keep saying that it’s very important to practice your spoken English in almost every YouTube video!), the chances of my new blog visitors of understanding why they have these issues and how they can deal with them would be very, very small. (more…)

“WELL…” – the Simplest English Hesitation Word!

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT BELOW: Hi guys, and welcome back to Robby's English Harmony Video Blog! In this video, I'm going to give you the simplest hesitation filler phrase possible, and here it is: "Well…" It's just a word - "well." And that's how you can begin sentences when you have to buy some time and when you can't really answer immediately. So, basically, a person asks you a question and then you begin your response with saying: "Well…" which buys you a few seconds during which you can actually think about the matter at hand and come up with a reasonable response. Whereas, if you're not saying anything, there's a bigger chance that you'll just get stuck for words. Imagine someone stopping you on the side of the road and asking you for directions to the local police station for example. If you just go like this, "Uh, Uh," it's very easy to get stuck for words. But, if you open your mouth and just say this simple word "well…" it kind of opens up your mouth and forces you to say something extra. And even though those extra bits that you're going to say may come out with a few mistakes, you know, they may come out a big erroneous, it doesn't matter because at the very least you would have said something, right? The word "well" gives you something to say, and it instantly makes you sound like a native English speaker, and do you want to know why? For the simple reason that all native English speakers use the word "well" to hesitate! (more…)

How to Organize English Phrases for Optimal Learning

Some People Are So Confident They Don’t Even Want to Improve Their English!

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT BELOW: Hi, guys! Hello my fellow foreign English speakers! It's Robby here from EnglishHarmony.com and welcome back to my video blog! In today's video, I'm going to touch upon a very interesting thing and, if I'm not mistaken, it's never been spoken about before. I've never discussed it, neither on my videos, nor on my articles on my blog, and I think this is going to be a very interesting topic indeed. Namely, not all foreign English speakers who struggle when speaking, not all of them actually have to improve their English. Some people are quite confident the way they are! And here's what I actually mean by this. I've come across a few such people in my life. And it was actually years ago when I was a young fellow, when I just came over to this country, and there was a bunch of guys living together in one house, and I got to know several new people time and time again. There were a few guys whose English was so-so, but they were quite okay communicating with other people. Their English was broken. Their vocabulary wasn't huge, and their grammar was quite bad to be honest with you, but they felt at ease when speaking with other English-speaking people. They didn't feel it as a problem, right? And that was the whole make or break factor for their confidence. They were confident and they didn't need to improve their English. They didn't work towards that goal that we all share, right, which is improving our English and achieving fluency. They worked towards other goals in their life, professional goals, and personal goals. But, they were happy with their level of English, and it was sufficient to get on with their daily tasks, to go on about their daily business, to work, to drop into institutions and get things done. Yes, it might have taken them a little bit longer because the communication would have been slightly hampered and things would have had to be explained in a little bit more detail to get it all done, but eventually it wasn't a big deal for them. And they were confident enough the way they were and that was it! Their English was fine for them and they didn't need to improve it. They'd never thought of - at least I didn't hear them complaining about their English because they were quite happy the way they were, and it's a funny thing. (more…)

How to Talk About Past & Future Without Using Corresponding English Tenses

What Exactly I Mean By Saying “Don’t Study English Grammar”

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT BELOW: Hi, guys! Hello, boys and girls! It's Robby here from EnglishHarmony.com and welcome back to my video blog! In today's video, I'm going to finally put the whole matter of English grammar studies to rest once and for all. And a funny thing that I realized today is that, whenever I'm referring to studying grammar, studying English grammar rules, and whenever I'm saying that it's not really necessary in order to improve your English, I'm not being very precise about it. I'm actually being very vague in my terms. I'm saying it's not worthwhile studying English grammar and then I always get a certain amount of comments and response from people saying: "Hold on a second, Robby. You can't actually totally ignore the grammar aspect of the English language!" And then my response to that is always: "Well, you have to learn the English language contextually and that way you're going to acquire all of the grammar quite naturally," which is true. But, I'm not actually defining what I mean, in fact, by saying it's not worth studying English grammar. And, if I'm not mistaken, I've never actually - to the best of my knowledge - I've never actually stated on my blog explicitly what exactly I mean by that, right? And I'm sorry. I have to take a drink. That's my coffee, nightly coffee, right? As a matter of fact, a while back I promised to myself that I would not have any coffee late at night, and there you go. I'm breaking my promise yet again! But, I'm addicted to coffee. So, that's one of the things that I'm still addicted to. I don't drink. I don't smoke. So, for Christ sakes, I have to do something, right? But, it's just a joke. Obviously, you don't have to do something. If you don't have any addictions, that's even better than having one addiction, which in my case is caffeine, right? But anyway, going back to the subject of grammar, I've never stated that by saying it's not worthwhile studying English grammar rules what I mean by that. (more…)

Customer Support & Service Industry English Phrases

Personally I've been working in various service industry positions for the better part of my working life: Shop-assistant. Bartender. Technical Support Agent. Been there, done that! ;-) Having spent many years dealing with clients on a daily basis, I know only too well how important effective communication is when dealing with customers. Not to mention getting your job in the first place! I mean, do you think your future employer is going to hire you if your spoken English isn’t up to scratch and you don’t know how to greet your customer and ask them what they’d like you to do for them? Also, considering that many companies will put you on probation before offering you a permanent position, it only stands to reason you should show great English communication skills when it comes to dealing with people. After all, customers are the lifeblood of the company you represent, and your employer won’t hesitate hiring someone else if customers are struggling to understand you. If the customer service you provide isn't good enough, why would they keep you, right? So, would you like to brush up on your spoken English skills so that you can provide an outstanding customer service? Well, I’m going to give you plenty of useful English phrases so that you can read them, speak them out loud, memorize them and then use them at work :!: (more…)

When My Spoken Fluency is UP, My Written Fluency is DOWN…

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT BELOW: Well, for some strange reason, I just can't write today. I don't know what's wrong with me. Then again, my oral fluency is up today for some strange reason, right? So, maybe I should record a video about it, and upload it onto my YouTube channel for my audience to see. Yep! I’d better do that! Hi, guys. It's me, Robby, from EnglishHarmony.com! I’d better turn off the music… And welcome back to my video blog! Today's subject is quite a funny thing that I've observed on numerous occasions. Basically, whenever my fluency, my overall fluency is up, my written fluency goes down. Basically, my ability to create written content diminishes for some strange reason. So, basically, my observation is that my ability to write and to read is not the same. Whenever one of them goes up, the other one goes down and vice versa. Why it is, why it's happening, I haven't got a clue, right? It's just that it happens and I've observed this phenomenon occurring time and time again over the years. (more…)

Relationship Between Written and Spoken English is Really Weird!

Dictation: Benefits of Listening to English & Writing It Down!

I have to be totally honest with you guys and come clean on something. I’ve never done purposeful DICTATION with the sole purpose of improving my English! For those unaware – dictation is exercise whereby you copy someone’s speech by writing it down. But it’s not really odd considering that I used to follow the path of the traditional text-book based English studies for a very long time, and as you can imagine, there’s no-one speaking when you open the textbook. You’re just required to fill in gaps in exercises and to provide written answers to questions. Over the years my English writing improved to a high standard quite naturally, and when I realized that I’d been neglecting my spoken English, I started engaging in spoken English practice whereby I’d rather copy and mimic other English speakers by SPEAKING OUT LOUD instead of writing it down. Well, come to think of it - I actually have done a certain amount of dictation when transcribing my own YouTube videos, but you can’t really count that as a proper dictation exercise. The reason being – I didn’t do it as an English-improving activity, I simply needed to transcribe my videos so that I could publish them on my blog. Proper dictation is done when you purposefully LISTEN and then you transfer what you hear in written form thus improving both your English listening and writing skills. And this one, my friends, is the first benefit of dictation! ;-) (more…)

What Books Would You Suggest to Improve My Spoken English?

Everything About TOEFL: Interview With Paul & Rachael from LanguageTrainers.com

In this video I’m interviewing Paul and Rachael from LanguageTrainers.com and we’re looking at the following TOEFL related questions: What TOEFL is all about? Is TOEFL the American counterpart of IELTS? When is TOEFL the right option for you? Is it possible to score a high mark in TOEFL just by improving your overall English skills through full English immersion? Is writing is the most important skillset necessary to pass TOEFL? What study tools are the best for practicing reading and listening skills? What do the speakers sound like in the TOEFL listening section? How long does the speaking part of TOEFL last? Is it possible to achieve your target TOEFL score if you’re not orally that fluent in English? How exactly is the student expected to perform during the TOEFL speaking part? How is grammar accessed during the TOEFL test? Is it necessary for students to focus on grammar studies predominantly when preparing for TOEFL? Links mentioned during the interview: English Listening Tests English Accent Game Connecting Your Ideas in English Writing (more…)

Connecting Your Ideas in Written English

When you are writing in English, there are two main components that you must achieve in order to express yourself well: First, you must have strong, clear ideas. And second, you must present these ideas in a well-organized fashion. However, finding the right words and phrases to connect your ideas can be challenging. If you struggle to come up with the right transitions in your writing, don’t worry: we've provided you with a cheat sheet for various popular transitional words and phrases in English! These phrases are useful connectors that will make your writing flow in a natural and organized way. They’re also key phrases to use in the writing sections of English exams like the IELTS or TOEFL. (more…)

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…)

How to Talk About a Subject in English for a LONG Time

Do Headphones Improve English Listening Experience? (How to Stop Using Subtitles!)

Hi guys, whenever it comes to English listening, the typical picture most likely displayed is the following: It’s the headphones I’m talking about! Well, quite obviously there are other ways you can draw people’s attention to the fact that it’s the listening aspect that you want to focus on: One way or another, but headphones are strongly associated with English listening practice and I don’t doubt for a second that you’ve used them at some stage in your English learning routine. But here’s the thing. (Did you know you can say nearly everything using the word THING?) When I had to sit my English exam in secondary school, nobody offered me to use the headphones. When my daughter is doing her German homework, she doesn’t’ use her earphones – she just listens to the German audio lesson on her loudspeakers. After all – when you listen to other English speakers speak in real life, there’s no headphones involved, and you have to be able to perceive the meaning of speech from a distance. I mean – nobody is going to talk right into your ear, right? As a matter of fact, they actually take it one step further during the listening part of exams, for example – they make it HARDER for you to distinguish the words and make out what the speaker is saying by adding some background noise the audio such as the sound of cars passing by… You think it’s a good thing? You think it’s going to improve your ability to understand? It’s total NON-SENSE! Your listening comprehension won’t improve just because you make it harder for yourself to understand! In reality, you’ll make huge improvements in your ability to understand if you make it EASIER for yourself to understand what’s being said. Using subtitles is one way of making it easier for yourself to understand when watching films, for example. But it’s not always an option, and furthermore - It’s a good idea to teach yourself to understand English just by listening instead of reading, and that’s exactly when the headphones step in! Before we move onto discussing the merits of using headphones though, let me just show you the difference between earphones, headphones and headsets – just in case you’re wondering whether they’re the same thing or not! So, this is a typical set of headphones: And here’s what earphones look like: As far as headsets are concerned - this is what people mean when they mention it: And no, it’s not me wearing the headset! :-) Here’s me: Anyhow, going back to using the words “headset”, “headphones” and “earphones” - in real life these terms are sometimes used interchangeably. But now at least you have an idea of what exactly each of them represents! So, now it’s about time we looked into the subject a bit deeper… (more…)

Improving English? TOO General! Sometimes You Gotta Be More SPECIFIC!

Why It’s So HARD to Realize You Have to Speak in Order to Speak

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT BELOW: Hi guys, hello boys and girls, and welcome back to English Harmony video blog! I’m Robby and in this particular video, which is a follow up on one of my latest YouTube video called “You are what you do”. I’m going to discuss one specific aspect of the whole problem of you being what you’re doing and it was pointed out to me by Juhapekka. He is a very prolific commentator on my blog and I really, really thank you for that Juhapekka :!: Your ideas that you have put into your comments have served as inspiration for so many videos for me and as I said, I’m really very grateful to you for that! So, in this particular comment Juhapekka points that… But before that, before we are actually looking into his comment, I want to remind you what the whole “You are what you do” thing is about. (more…)

You ARE What You DO!

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT BELOW: Hi guys and welcome back to English Harmony video blog! I'm Robby, obviously, and in today's video we're going to talk about a very simple matter indeed. Namely – YOU ARE WHAT YOU DO. I know - this may sound very simplistic – “You are what you do.” Well, what's the big deal? It's common sense! What you do determines what you are, who you are, right? But, just think about this guys. I still keep receiving plenty of emails on a daily basis asking for one basic thing: “Robby, tell me how I can start speaking fluent English? How do I improve my spoken English fluency? Basically, how do I speak in English?” So the basic need, the desire that is the common denominator among all those people, maybe including even you, is your desire to speak fluently. Basically, that's WHO you want to be. You want to become a FLUENT ENGLISH SPEAKER. So, if we go by the equation - you are what you do - going by that logic, it's not difficult to draw a simple conclusion: (more…)