The Illusion of Elsewhere – How to Clear Your Mind and Achieve Complete English Fluency in 4 Easy Steps
I love reading English fiction and there are some books I’ve re-read many times because they’ve helped me to grasp very important concepts. One of my favorite fictional characters, for instance – Skilgannon the Damned – is at his best when it comes to fighting when he slips into a special state of mind called the Illusion of Elsewhere. Basically his mind wanders and he allows his body to relax. Surprisingly, this state of mind doesn't make him less of a fighter; it’s actually quite the contrary – by clearing his mind he actually heightens his senses and allows his body to do the fighting automatically. So the key is to allow a process that’s been practiced for years to happen without much of conscious consideration thus eliminating any emotional restraints that might hinder your performance. Over the years I’ve come to realize the very same applies when you engage in English conversations – which essentially is quite an automatic process that you’ve been practicing for years. The only difference is that your mouth and lips have to do the verbal fighting instead of your arms and legs beating the living daylights out of some villain! (more…)
Native English Speakers Won’t Use Perfect Future Tenses – And You Should Avoid Them Too!
10 most common slangs you should start using Today
You Should ACT Rather Than REACT During English Conversations!
I’m pretty sure that you can remember having a conversation with another English speaker during which you felt quite insecure and didn’t quite know what to say when responding to the other person’s questions – or maybe the other person didn’t even ask you anything and did all the talking themselves! Here’s what would typically happen during such conversations. “Hello Sergio, how’s it going?” (this is the other person initiating the conversation) “Ah, well, I’m doing OK, thanks for asking, and how are you?” “I’m all right, I’ve got the Monday blues all right, but what can you do when you have to bring another paycheck home at the end of the week, isn’t that right? Anyway, I went to see the football game on Saturday – the Falcons where taking on the Giants and you’d never guess who won the game! The Falcons had to beat the Giants to end their losing streak so they were giving it all they had, but then suddenly…” – and your conversation partner just goes on and on and on… … and you’re just left wondering when YOU are going to get a chance to say something! Personally I wouldn’t even call this type of one-way communication a conversation – it’s just one person’s MONOLOGUE and you’re a passive listener, nothing more. I warmly suggest you take matters into your own hands and make the conversation sound something like this: “Hello Sergio, how’s it going?” “Hi John, not too bad actually!” “That’s good, yeah… Listen, I went to see this football game on Saturday…” “Hey John, sorry, but I’m not really into football! Ice-hockey is what I prefer, and my team is having a really good run this season! The Rangers, on the other hand, are performing really badly unfortunately – my son roots for them and while I’m happy Boston Bruins are at the top of the league, I don’t like being too enthusiastic about it because it makes him unhappy!” Now, did you see what happened here? YOU became the one who delivers the speech, and John had to listen to what YOU are saying instead of making you listen to what he wants to say! Obviously I’m not trying to say that you should interrupt everyone who starts telling you something, I hope you realize this was an exaggerated example to make you understand one thing: If you only REACT during English conversations and allow other people to adopt the leading role, you’ll never get a chance to speak and develop your fluency! Be more daring :!: Don’t be afraid to say what you want to say – even if the other person mightn’t be really interested in it! (more…)
How to Improve Spoken English While Entering Sales Orders on a PC
Sometimes I find it hard to believe myself that I run this blog part-time. Yes, in case you didn’t know it yet, I have a full-time job and all the writing and video production I have to do for this website is done in evenings, at night, or early mornings. Anyway, I don’t regret any of it because I’m surrounded by English speakers while at work and it provides me with full English immersion. What better conditions can a foreign English speaker wish for in order to constantly improve and maintain English fluency? When I came to Ireland first, for instance, I had a warehouse job working with other foreigners and most of the time I was speaking with myself, so I really don’t think I should be complaining now! Even my current job, however, entails duties and responsibilities which see me spend a lot of time on my own – such as organizing and counting stock and entering data on a PC. Quite naturally, I’m not involved in any lengthy conversations with my colleagues when performing those duties and a few times a year there are periods of a few weeks straight when I’m sitting at the PC and entering new sales orders. Do I miss out on my full English immersion sessions when it happens? Not at all! I keep speaking English with myself even when entering new product specifications on the computer and it helps me greatly to constantly stay in the English speaking mindset. (more…)
No.1 Secret to speak English fluently and confidently
My Own Struggling With English Fluency is What Drives Me!
Here’s how to improve your English listening skills when listening to my video: put the headphones on, playback the video and write it all down while listening to it! Video Transcript Below: Hi guys, hello my dear fellow foreign English speakers! It's Robby here from EnglishHarmony.com and welcome back to my video blog. Here's the thing my friends - I've been struggling with my English fluency for the last couple of days and what I wanted to tell you is despite the fact that is happens I don't regret it. I don't really wish to have been a completely fluent English speaker at all times. And guess why? It's quite simple. If I didn't have these fluency issues I wouldn't have created the blog EnglishHarmony.com in the first place, right? So I wouldn't be able to help you guys! I wouldn't be in a position to create all these blog articles and videos and whatnot and helping thousands and millions probably of other foreign English speakers worldwide. So basically if not for my fluency issues, none of this would have happened! (more…)
Speaking English is Just Like Playing With Lego Bricks!
FGC Goal #1: American Slang #27: CALL BS ON…
Current Goal: Learn 50 American Phrases in 25 Days! Hello my friends foreign English speakers! Do you know what you have to do when you clearly see that someone’s been lying? You have to CALL BS ON that! And even if that person strongly believes in what they’re saying, you can still CALL BS ON their claims and statements because you have all the rights in the world to disagree with their opinion! Obviously, you have to bear in mind this is a slang phrase and it’s is used in highly informal situations only :!: (more…)
Can Present Continuous Substitute Present Simple Tense?
I’ve discussed usage of the Present Continuous Tense in a number of grammar video lessons and the conclusion so far is that this English Grammar Tense is very, very widely used. You can use Present Continuous to describe past events, talk about future arrangements and of course, use it to describe actions going on at this very moment. The latter one is the typical use of Present Continuous and there was a time I thought it’s the only one. However, you should never assume that something is set in stone when it comes to English grammar, and especially – the Present Continuous Tense! It appears that it can also replace Present Simple on certain occasions, were you aware of that? Well, it might come as a surprise, but nonetheless it’s true and if you hear someone say “She’s always doing three things at once” or “I’m constantly arguing with her, I just can’t stand her!” it doesn’t mean it’s bad English grammar. You see, following the formal English Grammar rules, you’d use Present Simple with reoccurring activities, because that’s what it says when you open any English Grammar book. Present Simple Tense is to be used with known facts, routines, habits and permanent things. Personally I have a good visual memory (although sometimes it can be a bad thing) and I still remember a sample sentence in one of my first English Grammar books explaining Present Simple – “Sun rises in the east”. It’s a known truth, a permanent, regular activity, so we use Present Simple and the same goes with other things that are of a permanent nature. Where we live, what we usually do, our daily routines – it’s all the Present Simple Tense. “I live in a three bedroom house. On most days I get up at 6:00 AM and have oat porridge for breakfast. I drive to work because it’s not accessible by public transport.” The Present Continuous Tense, however, describes actions that are happening right now, not general things. So for example, “I drive to work every day” is a general statement about something I do on a regular basis, whereas “I’m driving to work” would imply that I’m sitting in the car right at this very moment and driving to work. Normally I would also add “at the moment” or a similar time indicator if I’m on phone, for instance. I would say “I can’t really talk now; I’m driving to work at the moment”. This is the way English Grammar books explain differences between the two tenses, and by and large it’s correct. In real life spoken English, however, things can’t be always strictly separated. I know that’s what English students want – to get rid of any ambiguity so that it would be easier to pass English tests. Every English Grammar Tense should serve only its own purpose and by learning the respective rules of usage we can construct nice and correct English sentences. Sounds like every English student’s dream, doesn’t it? Well, after you’ve spent some time with native English speakers in natural English speaking environment, you’ll realize that English tenses are sometimes used in a way you don’t expect! ;-) “I’m always driving to work along the highway, but occasionally I take back roads for a change.” Please note that I used Present Continuous where Present Simple would be normally used, and if we stick to formal English Grammar rules to the letter, you may want to re-write the above sentence and make it into “I always drive to work along the highway.” It’s a typical routine activity; it’s something that I always do – as indicated by the very word “always” – so it requires Present Simple, right? (more…)
20 Random Thoughts on English Fluency, Foreign English Speakers and Life in General
1. The English language is for everyone to speak. It transcends national boundaries, it’s become our modern day ‘lingua franca’, and no-one can really use the argument of ‘proper English’ because it is spoken differently in different places on the planet! 2. There are no quick-fixes or shortcuts when improving your spoken English. Contrary to what some English teachers will tell you, you can’t just listen your way to fluency; you have to SPEAK, SPEAK and SPEAK a lot! 3. It’s quite hard for the average foreigner to achieve a high degree of English fluency in the English language without living in an English speaking country. 4. It’s very difficult to improve your English effectively if you don’t enjoy life through the English language. 5. You may be saying it every once in a while that you’d like to improve your English but you can’t really do it because you haven’t got enough time, money, whatever. The truth is - it’s almost impossible to learn how to speak English fluently if you’re not REALLY MOTIVATED :!: (more…)
English Idiomatic Expression: “Couldn’t Put My Finger On It”
How to Give Weight to Your Opinion? Use Smart English Phrases!
I’ve blogged extensively about the importance of being able to conduct English small-talk and get involved in simple, everyday chats with other English speakers as opposed to trying to sound smart using sophisticated expressions because there’s always a chance you’ll get tongue-tied. Also I’ve stressed how important it is not to lose your head when you can’t remember a certain word or a phrase in English but paraphrase instead. Let’s say for instance, you’re having a chat with your friend and you’re trying to explain that you weren’t aware of a particular fact, but then it slowly became obvious to you. The phrase you’re trying to remember is “it dawned on me” – which means that you started to realize the truth. But if you can’t remember the exact word ‘dawned’, there are still dozens of ways to convey the same message – “I suddenly realized”, “and then I got it”, “I started to understand” etc. While it’s important not to get too hung up on using the exact same phrase you can’t remember – or else you risk constantly getting stuck in the middle of conversations! – it’s also important not to ignore specific English phrases or so called idiomatic expressions that might just help you make your point more effectively and also would help you sound more like a native English speaker. Just imagine that you’re watching news and they’re showing the latest developments in the world which unfortunately way too often involve natural and man-made disasters, atrocious crimes and other bad news that normally make the headlines. You’re watching the news with a couple of your friends, and halfway through the news your own worries and problems that were so pressing a mere ten minutes ago, all of a sudden seem to have become ridiculously unimportant. Compared to what people are going through in North Africa and Middle East at the moment, your life is actually a walk in the park! Now, you can express your feelings to your other family members in a couple of sentences just like I did in the paragraph above, OR… you can use a single phrase – “Yes, it really puts things in perspective, doesn’t it?” That’s the beauty of such and similar English phrases – they allow you to express your feelings in a single phrase! Moreover – they can be used in many different situations so a handful of smart English phrases can indeed help you explain yourself like a native English speaker! But now I’m going to give you some more examples of smart English phrases so that you can clearly see the importance of learning them. (more…)
How to Prepare for a Job Interview In English (Tried & Tested!)
Funny English Phrases #2 – Visiting a Doctor
Hi my fellow foreign English speakers! Here’s another video of my Funny English Phrases series – judging by the positive feedback I was getting after publishing the first video about shopping you seem to like these type of funny situation videos! This video has a few useful health related phrases and phrasal verbs in it, so watch it to make sure you know the meaning of those expressions! Or else you risk getting in embarrassing situations just like the character portrayed by me in the video! And one more thing – make sure you repeat those sentences out loud. It’s crucial to imprint English speech patterns into your mouth and vocal cords and there’s no way around it. You have to speak to improve your spoken English, my friend! Take care, Robby ;-)
India – the Home of Fluent English?
FGC Goal #1: American Slang Phrase #5 – IT HAS WRONG WRITTEN ALL OVER IT!
Don’t Try to Speak in English as if You Were Writing!
Many of us, foreign English speakers, learnt the English language as a written language due to the specific nature of academic English curriculum which emphasizes a student’s ability to read and write well. Spoken fluency is being neglected, and as a result our minds adopt what I like to call a ‘writing mode’. It’s when you’re so used to writing and working with English grammar textbooks, that it’s become your second nature to plan grammatically correct sentences in your head before actually speaking them out loud :!: As a result, your English fluency suffers because you find it hard to: Speak spontaneously and fluently (your speech preparation prevents that!) Use new English words and expressions (fear of making mistakes works against it!) Simply enjoy having a conversation with someone in English (you’re too anxious to say it all correctly!) Watch the video above to see how to make a smooth transition from the ‘writing mode’ of you mind into a ‘speaking mode’ so that you can speak fluently and confidently! (more…)
Self-correction – an Integral Part of Your Spoken English Improvement Routine
If you’re a foreign English speaker frantically looking for a conversation partner online, my typical suggestion to you would be the following: Engage in a lot of self-practice on a daily basis. If you’re lucky enough to find someone you can speak with every now and then – go for it! Don’t stop speaking with yourself however, because that way you’ll keep developing your ability to VERBALIZE YOUR THOUGHTS which is crucial for effective communication. Now, based on the feedback I’ve been getting on my blog posts and videos, the two main reasons why you might find such self-practice difficult to maintain in long term are the following: You can’t think of what to talk about; There’s no-one to point out your mistakes. I don’t buy neither of the two reasons. If you think speaking with yourself is boring, how come I’ve been doing it for years on end and I still have loads to talk about when I voice my thoughts out loud? It would be the same as claiming you don’t have anything to think about! :grin: The second reason – lack of feedback and correction – is also just an excuse not to improve one’s ability to speak. Tell me honestly – do you ALWAYS get corrected when speaking with others in real life? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I have a strong notion that more often than not you rely on a thing called SELF-CORRECTION than on others’ feedback :!: And even if you don’t do it, you’d better start making conscious adjustments to your English speech if you want to experience any significant improvement to your ability to speak fluently and correctly! (more…)
How Words Hook Up With Each Other in Spoken English
We’re All Capable of Correcting Our English Speech Ourselves!
One of the biggest misconceptions I’ve ever come across over the years is the following: You can’t engage in spoken English self-practice because there’s no-one to correct your mistakes! I’ve received feedback of such nature from quite a few of my fellow foreign English speakers, and it clearly goes to show that the average foreigner is so afraid of making mistakes and letting them go unnoticed, that they’d rather remain unable to speak fluently! In today’s video I’ve debunked this myth, and here’s exactly what you’ll find out if you watch the video above: (more…)
Seeing Forgotten English Words the Next Day & the “Gut Feeling”
Translation from English is Bad For Your Fluency + Example From My Early Days as a Teacher
VIDEO TRANSCRIPT BELOW Hi guys and welcome back to EnglishHarmony.com video blog! I’m Robby from EnglishHarmony.com, obviously, and in this video episode, we’re going to touch upon a subject that we’ve spoken about many times before, namely - the fact that you don’t have to translate from English into your native language and vice versa while getting involved in English improving related activities. Obviously, we’ve spoken about it at length previously so I’m not going to get into the reasons why you shouldn’t be doing that. By now, they should be quite obvious to you but for those who haven’t watched my videos in the past and haven’t visited my website probably, let me tell you just one thing. If you translate, you can’t speak fluently because your mind is too preoccupied with dealing with all the grammar related issues and basically creating sentences from scratch in your mind, instead of speaking spontaneously and that’s what fluent speech is all about. In relation to the whole ‘don’t translate’ subject, I’m going to bring up an example of what happens when people try to translate, and it happened years ago. (more…)
I’m a Useless English Teacher Because I Make Mistakes… And I Should Go Back to Farm!
The concept of WRONGNESS of making mistakes while speaking or writing in English is something that’s permeated the English teaching industry and it’s lead so many non-native English speakers to believe that they suck at English unless they can make their speech and their English writing style PERFECT. Just picture the typical English class. The teacher (who speaks perfectly, of course!) is standing at the front of the class and the poor students are crouched over their desks DREADING to hear the test results. Why this fear? Simply because their ability to perform as English speakers is judged based on their MISTAKES! It’s so wrong that I want to start screaming just thinking about it!!! They’re looking closely at your mistakes while at the same time almost dismissing your achievements, and what do you think this kind of approach results into? Yes, that’s right – ANXIETY, LACK OF CONFIDENCE and total DISBELIEF that one they you can actually become a fluent English speaker. I’ve figured it out a long time ago, and ever since I’ve been adopting quite the opposite approach when speaking in English myself and providing advice to others who want to better their spoken English fluency and also writing. MAKE AS MANY MISTAKES AS YOU CAN! That’s the mantra I’m going by, and while you might be skeptical about it at first, you’ll definitely realize there’s a big wisdom behind it – especially when reading the following articles: (more…)
Why You Forget English Words and How to Avoid It
I’m pretty sure you’ve had the following happen to you many, many times: You open your mouth to say something in English; You start the sentence and then suddenly you FORGET a specific word… You’re going mad trying to remember it… As a result you can’t say a thing! It’s one of the worst experiences that any of us, foreign English speakers, can possibly have because it makes us feel stupid and worthless, and the funny thing is that the more we try to make sure it doesn’t happen, the worst it gets :!: Sure enough, there are strategies such as PARAPHRASING, for example (trying to say it in different words) or speaking in SHORT SENTENCES which can be very successfully implemented when you can’t remember the exact word you’re looking for. I mean – why try and struggle to remember something you obviously can’t remember at the risk of not being able to say anything? Simply put it in different words, and let the conversation continue! Having said all that, however, I have to agree that you might still want to figure out WHY you forget English words and how to make sure such incidents don’t happen ALL THE TIME, am I not right? So, let’s get down to business and let’s start dissecting your brain in order to see why you forget English words and how to make sure it doesn’t happen that often! ;-) (more…)
English Idiomatic Expression: “It’s been dealt with”
Your Small English Imperfections Tend to Disappear!
Are you following my advice on learning loads of English idiomatic expressions and collocations and applying them onto your speech and also writing? Great! Are you feeling overwhelmed by the sheer number of those expressions and does it make you feel as if the more you’re learning the more there is to left to learn? It’s only natural! We’re all human beings, and feeling overwhelmed and feeling that whatever we’re saying and writing falls short of our own expectations is something that many of us do. But guess what? (more…)
It Doesn’t Matter Who You Speak With – It’s All in Your HEAD!
Useful Tips on Improving Your English Using Google
In the previous article about using Google as an English improving tool I looked at the basics of Google Search suggestions. I brought up a good number of examples on how Google immediately displays the most relevant contextual suggestions for your search term if you want to figure out in what context the particular English word is used. Unfortunately, we also concluded that on many occasions Google won’t show you the most relevant collocations when you type in a certain word. The reason behind that is simple enough – Google isn’t used only by linguists, of course; billions of searches are performed every day based on popular trends and news, and it all affects the search suggestions. Not all is that bad, however, if you know certain ways and techniques to get the best out of what Google offers! Here’s my take on the whole Google search thing (find more phrases with the word ‘thing’ here) – if you have to find out meaning of a new English word and see how it’s used in context, use the best English dictionary websites to look them up. Sites like Dictionary.com and TheFreeDictionary.com will display sample sentences along with a very detailed explanation for the word you’re looking up, and you’ll be also given a bunch of synonyms and antonyms to help you understand all connotations of your search term. On the other hand, on occasions when you DO have an idea of what a particular word might mean and how it might be used, but you’re not 100% sure of what collocations and idioms are there containing that word, or if you’re unsure of correctness of a particular phrase – Google is the quickest and handiest tool for the purpose! OK, I won’t keep you waiting for any longer, my friends, so I’ll cut the rant short and let’s get down to business! (more…)