Don’t Look for Specific Audio Material for Improving Your English Listening Skills!
VIDEO TRANSCRIPT BELOW: Hi guys, hello boys and girls and welcome back to English Harmony video blog! Today let's talk about improving your English listening, right? Basically your comprehension. And the biggest mistake, by far the biggest one that all foreign English speakers make, is they search for specific listening material. Very specific audios or whatnot specifically created with a single purpose of improving English learners' comprehension. But it's a big mistake and here’s why. First of all, those materials, well, they are obviously designed in order to improve specifically your listening but then again it's not necessarily something that you would be interested in, right? The way I like to approach things is if you are serious about your English improvement, there's no reason on Earth why you wouldn't surround yourself with English in your daily life. Watch English movies. Watch English TV programs. Listen to English radio. Basically whatever you do, do it in English and then you won't have to search for specific audio material for listening! And if you've been following my blog for a good while, you'll definitely remember that my main approach towards English listening is that you don't have to train your listening separately. It all has to go hand in hand with your spoken English improvement. Basically, you do it all together, right? (more…)
English Idiomatic Expression: “Doesn’t Cut It”
Learning English Phrases Beats Learning Individual Words Hands Down!
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…)
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…)
English Phrase: Just Because… It Doesn’t Necessarily… It’s Quite the Opposite, Actually!
“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…)
Some People Are So Confident They Don’t Even Want to Improve Their English!
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…)
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…)
In Real Life Your English is Judged by Your SPEECH!
VIDEO TRANSCRIPT BELOW: Hi guys! 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 subject that I haven't actually spoken about before, namely - the fact that you or me or any other foreign speaker for that matter, We're all judged based on our spoken English performance! When we meet with other people, when we go about our daily business, when we communicate with others, it's the spoken fluency that we are being judged upon. It only makes sense because people don't see - they can't - there is no obvious indicator of how well we understand them. People can't immediately see how good readers or writers we are. But, what they can see, what they can hear, to be more specific, is the way we speak! So, it only makes sense that we are being judged on the basis of our ability to speak with other people. Yet, at the same time, the traditional English teaching setting facilitates all those other aspects of our English, namely, our ability to understand, and write, and listen, but spoken fluency has always taken the back seat. And on top of that, all those exams like TOEFL and IELTS, they all focus predominantly on your ability to understand and provide written answers. (more…)
Why Can’t I Use All Those English Phrases and Collocations?
How to Talk About a Subject in English for a LONG Time
VIDEO TRANSCRIPT BELOW: Hi, guys! It's Robby here from EnglishHarmony.com with another video blogpost. Now, this time around, I'm going to be looking at the following question: “How to provide lengthy answers?” Say, for example, you are asked a question and the situation demands that you provide quite a lengthy answer. Normally, it's totally fine to answer using very simple, short sentences. Actually, it's one of the ways of getting your fluency back on track, and you may want to check out this particular article where I'm touching upon that subject, that there's nothing wrong with speaking in very short sentences because, for most foreign English speakers who are having these fluency issues, it's very challenging to speak using very long sentences. Oftentimes, those people will get very confused and it's all too overwhelming to handle that much information in one go. It's best to separate your thoughts into little, manageable pieces, right? But, other situations such as, for example, English exams, demand that you provide quite lengthy answers. Obviously, it just doesn't cut it in situations such as exams if you just provide one, short sentence as an answer, right? In most daily situations, that's totally fine. But, what to do if you find yourself in such a situation where you are actually required to provide quite a lengthy answer? And, as a matter of fact, this is a question asked by one of my blog commentators and here's the exact question, right? I'm going to quote: "I see you carry on for a long time discussing about a topic. How do you do this? Do you follow a certain method for a long time conversation on the topic? Please help me!” (more…)
Why It’s So HARD to Realize You Have to Speak in Order to Speak
English Idiomatic Expression: “You Don’t Want To…”
Hello my friends foreign English speakers! ;-) Here’s another English idiomatic expression for you to learn and use in your daily English conversations and also spoken English practice sessions: YOU DON’T WANT TO This particular English phrase simply means “YOU SHOULDN’T…” and it’s used by native English speakers in situations when telling someone that they shouldn’t do something would sound a bit too harsh and patronizing. Imagine yourself in a situation when you’re introduced to a new work colleague and you’re given the task of showing him the ropes (explaining how the job is done.) You’d be telling your new colleague a lot of things that they shouldn’t do over the course of the day, so every time you’re saying YOU SHOULDN'T DO IT and DON’T DO IT, it may start sounding as if you’re annoyed with them. Not that it’s a big deal – and if your voice and body language clearly shows your good intentions, you shouldn’t have any problems with telling someone that they shouldn’t do something. It’s just that it may sound a bit friendlier if you use the phrase YOU DON’T WANT TO DO IT! And here's the exact phrases where you'd be using this idiomatic expression: (more…)
Happy New Year 2015! + Draw Results
Happy New Year Everyone! Hello, my friends :!: Hello, foreign English speakers, native English speakers and everyone who happens to be following my blog! Welcome back to my video blog, and this is obviously a whole new year – 2015! And to be honest with you guys, for one split second yesterday - last night was Christmas Eve and at one stage during the celebrations, I thought that it was going to be 2016 for some reason! But anyway, I wanted to take this wonderful opportunity and provided how far my message goes - I've got thousands of followers on Facebook, and YouTube, and my blog daily traffic goes beyond 1,000 visitors a day. So, I hope that this message gets heard by tens of thousands of people, right? So, I wanted to take this opportunity and wish you all a very Happy New Year :!: Despite all the bad things we keep hearing on the media constantly on a daily basis, I still wish you a very Happy New Year because that's the thing to do, right? Everybody wishes one another a very Happy New Year! And all the resolutions that you have set for yourselves, I really hope you'll follow through with at least one of them. So, basically, whatever it is, maybe you’re giving up something, maybe you want to quit smoking or quit drinking, for example. Or maybe you want to take up some habit that would result in something good in your life, maybe you want to join a gym, and that's typical, right, and start working out and lose a little bit of weight and get fitter. Or maybe it's to improve your English in which case you're welcome to stay with me throughout the year 2015 and keep reading my articles and watching my videos where I'm going to provide a whole lot of new information in relation to your fluency development! So basically may all of your resolutions come true! And, obviously, we have to be realistic. We can't expect that everything is going to be smooth and all the resolutions are going to be fulfilled. But at least one thing - if you are just successful with one thing, you can call it a major success because believe it or not most people fail miserably with most of their resolutions! Gyms are empty - come March, and people have started smoking again, and drinking on a weekly basis or even a few times a week, which is even worse, right? And all the plans basically have gone down the drain. So, I wish you at least to fulfill one of your dreams in this New Year! (more…)
Can I Become a Fluent English Speaker at the Age of 34?
Hello guys and welcome back to the English Harmony video blog! Obviously, I'm Robby and I don't even know why I'm saying this every time I start a new video. It's just one of those things I say, "Welcome back to my video blog and I am Robby." Obviously, all of you who have been following my blog will know that I am Robby. Who else could I be? But, it's just that on the off chance that there's someone new to my blog and to the whole English Harmony thing who might be watching this video and they don't know what my name is, I'm greeting you guys by letting you know my name - Robby Kukurs. Write it down. Bookmark my website - EnglishHarmony.com - because it's one of the best resources out there for those foreign English speakers who want to improve spoken English fluency, right? And also bookmark my YouTube channel, of course ;-) So, anyway, today's video is about whether - what was the question? It was a question asked by one of my blog visitors I'm pretty sure because that's where I gain most of the inspiration for creating new videos and articles. And these days, people asking me questions - whether it was an email or a comment, I'm not really sure, but it's irrelevant anyway. I remember now. The question was: “How successful can I expect my fluency improving attempts to be provided that I'm 34 years old or something like that, something along those lines, 34 or 35, basically mid-30's”. (more…)
Happy Christmas Everyone!
Don’t Over-analyze Your English – Say SOMETHING!
Hi guys, and welcome back to the English Harmony video blog. Obviously, I’m Robby, your English fluency mentor, and in this video let’s talk about over-analyzing things when you are trying to speak or write in English. It happens an awful lot and it’s actually one of the main reasons why foreign English speakers fail to obtain fluency in writing and most predominantly in speech because they’re constantly trying to choose one of the available options. Let me describe the whole situation so that it’s clear to you what I’m exactly talking about. Recently, I published an article and you may want to check it out here, and it’s called “1,000,000 English grammar questions answered by Robby”. Obviously there’s not a million of them there but it’s just that I’m going to be adding on more questions onto that article as time goes by so I can’t put a definite figure on it, whether it’s 23 or 28 or whatever. I just stuck in the figure “1,000,000” to make it more appealing for anyone who might visit my blog and read that article, right. In this article, I’m answering my blog visitors grammar related questions. It’s not really consistent with my English Harmony philosophy which is actually all against grammar analysis, basically do away with anything grammar related and just focus on your speech. By learning specific word groups alone, you’re going to get the grammar right in the end! Anyway, here’s the question which illustrates what I’m going to be talking about today: (more…)
English Teacher Puts Skype Student on the Spot… It’s NOT Teaching!
Why Don’t I Learn Other Languages By Applying English Harmony Principles?
VIDEO TRANSCRIPT BELOW: Hi guys, and welcome back to the English Harmony video blog! In today’s video, I’m going to address a question asked by one of my YouTube commentators whose name is Shamil. Hi, Shamil! How are you getting on? Thanks for asking the question, it’s a very valid one. Let me read it out first. “Robby, are you currently learning any new language? It’s just that you’ve figured out how to efficiently learn English and reach fluency in English so why limit yourself with English only? Why not apply all of your experience on, for example, French? Surely you can apply the same way of learning techniques and become fluent in French or in any other language in no time. Maybe we’ll see you in the future on your new channel in French! Regards, Shamil”. Thanks for the question. It’s a very valid one. Indeed, I’ve figured out that I can actually learn and improve my English by using all these colocations and phrases and a lot of self-practice by repeating the phrases and memorizing them all over again, using in my self-practice sessions then using them in real life conversations with people. So, all of these methods and techniques together coupled with fluency management techniques whereby I monitor my fluency all the time and whenever I feel that my fluency goes down a bit, I apply all these methods, right, and there’s a number of them. The simplest one is to slow your speech down, right. There’s more techniques. If you feel that you’re really stuck, you actually try and speak much faster as some sort of a reverse psychology. Basically, you’re trying to make as many mistakes as you actually can and sometimes, it actually helps you to get through the plateau, so to speak. You actually start speaking much better for some reason or another, and then there’s a technique whereby you just try to empty your mind and basically get rid of all those negative thoughts and you just basically speak about whatever comes into your mind. You just don’t care whether what you say might be a bit erroneous, maybe there’s a few mistakes in it, whatever. You just don’t care about that, you just lose yourself basically and distance yourself from other people’s opinions, emotions, what they might think, whatever. I’ve discussed all of these strategies in great depth on my blog throughout the years, so obviously… (more…)
Ask Me ANY English Grammar Related Question You May Have!
Skype Based English Teaching – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
The Less Opportunities You Have to Speak With Others, The More You’ve Gotta Speak With Yourself!
VIDEO TRANSCRIPT BELOW: Hello, my friends! Hello, my dear fellow foreign language speakers! I’m Robby from Englishharmony.com and welcome back to my video blog. Today’s topic is something that I’ve touched upon multiple times on my blog and on my YouTube channel, namely - it’s... The Importance of Doing Frequent Self-practice. Basically, you’ve got to be exercising your spoken English by engaging in a lot of self-practicing. “Why?” - you may ask. It’s very simple! If you haven’t got that many opportunities to speak with other people in real life then pretty much the only way you can maintain a high level of spoken English is speaking on your own. It’s no different from working out your body if you’re an athlete, right, and obviously nowadays there’s millions of people engaging in all types of sports related activities, even not being professional athletes for that matter, right, so basically its available to anyone. Gym memberships are as cheap as ever and anyone can join a gym, or indeed just do something at home or run, which is my thing personally - I’ve been a runner for six years now, or slightly more, right. So basically, when you work out your body, more often than not, you just do it on your own. You don’t necessarily engage in team sports, so if you draw parallels between speaking with other people and playing team sports games such as football or soccer, depending on where in the world you come from. Soccer, that’s American because football in America is American football which is a totally different ball game altogether, right. (This was an idiomatic expression.) If you say that something is a totally different ball game, it simply means that this thing that you’re talking about is a completely new thing, right, but ironically enough, I was talking about ball games and I was actually using that expression in which case, it’s not so idiomatic anymore because American football and European football are the so called soccer, right, it’s a totally different ball game, but what was I talking about initially? You see, I have this bad habit of straying off the subject because I keep talking and talking… We were talking about speaking with other people is pretty much the same as being engaged in team sports but working out on your own is the same as doing some spoken English practice on your own and there’s nothing wrong with that. (more…)
English Idiomatic Expression: “It Came to Light That…”
Another day – another English idiomatic expression! Today we’re going to look at the following English phrase which I’m sure will come in handy for you: IT CAME TO LIGHT THAT… This expression can be used whenever you FIND something OUT. In case you’re wondering why I’m giving you this English idiom in this exact way (Past Tense) instead of keeping the verb in its infinitive form: “To come to light” – it’s because most likely you’ll be using this expression when talking about something that happened in the past! What’s the use of memorizing this exact English sentence “TO come to light” if every time you’re going to have to modify it to suit the context which is most likely going to be in the Past Tense? It’s so much easier to speak if you actually memorize the phrase the EXACT way you’re going to use it! Here’s a couple of example sentences containing the phrase IT CAME TO LIGHT THAT… (more…)
English Collocation: May Have Been Led to Believe That…
English Schwa Sound [ə] – What It Is & How To Get It Right!
There was a time when I didn’t have a clue what the “schwa” [ə] sound was. I’d heard people say this strange word – “SCHWA” – and it got me thinking “What the hell are they talking about?! It must be something quite complicated because it sounds smart…” As is often the case though, the seemingly complicated matter turned out to be a very simple thing – the “schwa” [ə] sound is nothing more than an unstressed vowel sound which occurs in A LOT of English words: About [əˈbaut] Bank account [bæŋk əkaunt] I don’t know what to do! [ˈaɪ ˈdount ˈnou ˈhwat tə duː] Can you help me? [kən ju ˈhelp ˈmiː] So far so good, right? Well, turns out it’s not all that simple! ;-) There are a lot of languages in the world, and it’s not that easy for everyone to get the schwa sound just right. Recently, for example, I received a comment by one of my blog commentators Juhapekka in which he raises concerns over pronouncing the English schwa sound while being a Finnish speaker himself. (more…)
English Collocation: Eagerly Anticipating
Tricks with English Words – Horse Show or Horror Show?
VIDEO TRANSCRIPT BELOW: Hello boys and girls, and welcome back to English Harmony video blog! I just wanted to let you know guys that today I got an invitation to Dublin Horse Show; but what did I just say? Was it Dublin Horse Show or Dublin Horror Show? You see, I said it quite fast: “I got an invitation to Dublin Horse Show!”; it could have actually been either, horse show or horror show. There is no sure fire way of telling which one it was. It all depends on the context my friends, and this is one of those things that so many foreign English speakers just won’t accept. Sometimes when you don’t really understand what the particular word means, people start getting all confused and complain about double meanings in the English language and how can they possibly understand all the meanings of a single word, but the answer is the context my friends, obviously. Just the first time around when I mentioned Dublin Horse Show, you probably would be a little bit doubtful what show I meant but then in the conversation that would quite naturally follow that, you would realize what I’m talking about. If I say, “I got an invitation to Dublin Horror Show and I’m going to bring a zombie mask with me”, obviously I’m talking about a horror show, something like a horror walk, something like a Halloween’s day parade where I want to put on some different masks and go trick and treating around town and knocking on people’s doors and getting sweets, and sometimes getting some abuse as well. If I was to say that I’m going to a Dublin Horse Show and I’m going to watch how horse riders are show jumping then obviously it’s all about horses. It couldn’t possibly be horror show, right, so as I said, context explains everything. Context clarifies everything and I suggest you check out this link if you haven’t already done so previously while watching my videos and browsing my blog, and in this article, there’s a video as well. You can perform a test and see how these words co-locate, how they go together and that’s all about the context you’re learning basically. You acquire a vocabulary contextually. A word is never on its own, and even if there’s a few words together, such as Dublin Horse Show, there’s always some more context to follow. It’s never just a single phrase on its own! (more…)
English Idiomatic Expression: “To Go the Extra Mile”
Translation from English is Bad For Your Fluency + Example From My Early Days as a Teacher
“Beat – Beat – Beaten”: Learn Irregular English Verbs Through Expressions!
Hello my friends foreign English speakers! I’m back with another English irregular verb, and this time around it’s TO BEAT. As you know from my previous videos (if you don’t, please watch it HERE, it’s super-important!), you shouldn’t be learning English irregular verbs by repeating and memorizing word strings such as BEAT, BEAT, BEATEN (these are the respective Present, Past and Past Participle forms of the verb TO BEAT). Instead, you should learn each of those verb forms as part of a word combination and that way you’ll achieve all the following: You’ll avoid getting mixed up when using BEAT and BEATEN in real life; You’ll be able to use these irregular verb forms without much THINKING; You’ll INSTINCTIVELY feel when to use them – just like a native speaker! So, without a further ado, let’s look at the phrases containing the various forms of the irregular verb TO BEAT, and alternatively you can watch the video or listen to the podcast above to gain even more insight into using the following phrases: It BEATS me; I BEAT the traffic on the way to; BEATEN to death. (more…)