Learn Only ONE Way of Using New English Vocabulary Words at Any Given Time!
In this English Harmony video I’m going to respond to Meenu’s comment in which she explains her problem in relation to learning new English vocabulary words. You can see the full exchange below: I’m taking the liberty to elaborate on the whole issue in the video above, and I hope you’ll find it helpful, Meenu! ;-) So, if you’re having similar issues with learning new English vocabulary: (more…)
Answering Questions: Can’t Practice Fluency, What to Do If My Fluency Dwindles When I Speak With Others and More…
Is Past Perfect Tense Any Good For The Average English Speaker?
Which is Better – Direct or Indirect Speech?
As you may already know, there are two main ways in the English language you can talk about what another person has said: DIRECT speech INDIRECT or the so-called reported speech Direct speech is a word-by-word account of what the person in question said. For example, if your friend asked you “Would you mind looking after my pets over the weekend?” and now you’re telling someone else what your friend had asked you using the direct speech, here’s how you’d say it: “Mark asked me “Would you mind looking after my pets over the weekend?” so I can’t really go out with you on a Saturday night, sorry!” As you can see, direct speech is very easy to incorporate into your own speech for the simple reason that YOU DON’T HAVE TO CHANGE ANY OF THE WORDS! You simply say it the way you heard it and I think it’s one of the biggest benefits of the direct speech – especially in situations when you find it a bit hard to speak in English and you hesitate and stumble upon words a lot. Indirect speech, on the other hand, requires a bit more thought put into it, and here’s an example: “My mom told me that my dad was going to take us to Disneyland the following summer, isn't that amazing?” Now, what I want you to pay attention to is the following: You HAVE TO CHANGE WORDS AROUND in indirect speech! The exact words used by mom were different; here’s what she said: “Dad IS going to take us to Disneyland NEXT summer!” – but when you REPORT what she said as part of indirect speech, it becomes “… dad WAS going to take us to Disneyland THE FOLLOWING summer…” It’s called BACKSHIFT and it simply means you have to change words around in indirect speech (verbs adopt Past Tense forms and words like “tomorrow” change to “the next day” etc.) if you begin the sentence with PAST TENSE – and more often than not, you will be using the Past Tense when reporting another person’s speech. After all, it was at some stage in the PAST when you heard the other person speak :!: So which one is more convenient for you as a foreign English speaker – direct or indirect speech? Keep reading this article to find out more about benefits and advantages of using both – DIRECT and INDIRECT speech when speaking in English with other people! ;-) (more…)
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…)
How to Develop Good Ear for English Listening
You Don’t Need to Separate English Listening from Speaking!
The fact of the matter is – you can’t listen your way to English fluency no matter how hard you’d try. To consider yourself being fluent in English, you have to be able to SPEAK. To develop your ability to speak, you have to SPEAK. If most of your English improving related efforts are geared towards listening to: Specific English learning audios; Films and videos in English; Podcasts on various websites… … then you will greatly develop your English listening and comprehension skills, there’s no doubt about that! Your ability to produce fluent English speech, however, isn’t going to come along at the same pace for the simple reason that you wouldn’t have trained your mouth to speak, and that makes an awful lot of difference when it comes to one’s ability to deliver a verbal message. It’s pretty much the same as if you were trying to learn to drive a car by watching other people drive without attempting to sit behind the steering wheel yourself! Not all listening activities, however, are a waste of your time. As a matter of fact, you can’t actually separate listening to English and speaking in English because these two activities are quite naturally interlinked. (more…)
Everyone Says My English is Good Enough… But It ISN’T!
Surround Yourself With English ALL the Time!
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! Hi guys, hello my dear fellow English speakers and welcome back to Robby's English Harmony video blog! In today's video we are going to look at the following topic: full English immersion and its importance in your spoken English fluency development. And sometimes you may think “what's the big deal? Why would I have to necessarily surround myself with English 24/7? Surely, if I want to improve my English I can just do certain things and that will improve my spoken English, right?” Well, you're right to a certain degree. Yes, you will definitely improve it because doing something is better than doing nothing, right? But here's the deal: if you immerse yourself in English 24/7, it's going to provide even additional benefits for your overall spoken English fluency development. (more…)
Video for YearOfEnglish.com subscribers: Learn English Vocabulary That’s Relevant for YOUR Life!
How English Learners Can Use Mobile Phones to Improve English
How to Become a Good English Interpreter and Translate TV Shows Into Your Native Language
Fluent English can ONLY be acquired by learning IDIOMATIC EXPRESSIONS - and that's why I'm going to highlight them for you in RED! As you may already have noticed, sometimes I create blog posts and videos based on my blog visitors’ comments and questions. This article is not an exception, and here’s the original comment that inspired me to write it: So basically the problem I’m going to discuss in this blog post is the following: “How to develop your ability to translate from English to your native language INSTANTLY?” Before we get into the nitty-gritty of this matter, just let me tell you that I’ve actually written about this particular phenomenon of not being able to translate a TV show into my native language while watching it with others – you may read about it HERE. It goes to show that this problem isn't unique – I would even go so far as to say that it’s NOT ACTUALLY A PROBLEM at all! (more…)
Why When We Stress Out Our Fluency Deteriorates?
Here’s a typical question I get asked by my blog readers and customers all the time: “When I speak with other English speakers, I always get embarrassed, and then I start stressing out, and then I just can’t speak anymore. Why is it happening?” Why? Well, the answer is in the very question you’re asking! You’re STRESSED OUT, and that’s why you can’t speak fluently anymore! That’s it, my friend – stress is the single biggest reason affecting your fluency (and that of hundreds of thousands of other foreign English speakers worldwide!). It’s the STRESS that makes you do all the following: Hesitate, Make stupid mistakes, Get stuck for words, Lose the thread of your thoughts… ... while at the same time you’re being fully aware of the fact that if you’re not in stressful situations, your spoken English level is fairly good. Why is it that stress affects our English fluency big time? Well, read this article and you’ll found out just that – and much more! :grin: (more…)
Don’t Learn Some Obscure English Words that Even Native Speakers DON’T KNOW!
English Collocation: “Well Thought Through”
In this blog post I’m going to focus on the following English collocation: “well thought through”. It’s just another way of saying “well planned”, and it’s how native English speakers – or fluent foreign English speakers! – would speak in circumstances when they have to describe a very well planned activity, arrangement, or even a physical object or structure. Anything can be well thought through. A well thought through business development plan. A very well thought through fire escape route which ensures the fastest evacuation of company’s employees in the case of fire. Furniture in your house can be arranged in a very well thought through fashion ensuring the optimal functionality and creating a nice impression. (more…)
1,000,000 English Grammar Questions Answered by Robby
Does Reading Help You Improve English?
This time we'll be talking about reading and if you can improve your spoken English by reading plenty of English literature – starting with newspapers and ending with books.Â I’ve actually wanted to discuss this topic for a good while now, so believe me – I’ve got a lot to say in this regard! ;-) OK, here’s the controversy about reading and its effectiveness when it comes to improving your English. Reading is being mentioned all across the board as one of the most effective tools of improving one’s English. And I can partially agree with this only as far reading understanding is concerned. My conviction is however, that being able to communicate effectively is paramount if you live in an English speaking country. While being literate when it comes to reading and writing English is undeniably an essential part of general English knowledge, I think that the ability to speak fluently comes above all else. And this is why it’s so controversial – while the whole English improving industry is build mostly on reading and writing, hundreds of thousands of foreigners are struggling with speaking the English language! (more…)
Beginners, Intermediate and Advanced English Grammar? Nonsense!
You Have to EAT Well to SPEAK in English Well!
Retelling Stories Is a Perfect Way of Improving Your Spoken English!
Nonsense of Learning English by Listening to Fast English Spoken by Locals
Back in the day, when I’d just come to Ireland and was still struggling with my spoken English, I was working in a massive warehouse offloading trailers all day long while at the same time trying to understand what my Irish supervisors and managers wanted from me. Why did I just say “TRYING” to understand? Well – guess what? – it’s not that easy to figure out what you’re told in English if the person in question speaks very fast AND with a distinct accent! Needless to say, over the next few years I did learn to understand the local speech, and nowadays the Irish accent has become so familiar that I’d pick it out in a crowd immediately. The heck, I can even imitate English spoken in Ireland a little bit myself now, so I have to admit that over time things have gotten much, much better in terms of understanding English spoken by people from all over the world. The reason I’m writing this article isn’t to conclude that you can just listen to fast English spoken by heavily accented local speakers and you’ll be just fine in a few years’ time down the line. It’s quite the opposite actually – not only it could very well be that you DON’T learn to fully understand the local slang (and please bear in mind it’s not just limited to English spoken locally; all these problems may occur when you’re listening to FAST English in general!), but also you could pick up quite a few psychological issues along the line! You may constantly strive to speak just as fast as natives and as a result you constantly stumble upon words and hesitate when speaking in English. You may develop a habit of comparing your English with theirs which has a detrimental effect on your fluency. And you may also find it very difficult to learn the English language to proficiency if you’re constantly forcing yourself to listen (or read) to something you only half-understand. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not trying to persuade you that: Under no circumstances you should be exposed to English the way it’s spoken by natives in real life; You should only be exposed to English you understand 100%. If that were the case, you’d never learn anything because by the very definition LEARNING implies acquiring something NEW, something you don’t know yet. There’s a huge difference, however, between learning English by listening and repeating words, phrases and sentences that are EASY to understand AND listening to something you can only remotely recognize! (more…)
3 Killer Tips on How to Write in English Like a Native Speaker!
English Idiomatic Expression: “Doesn’t Cut It”
Read instructions on how to use my articles to practice your spoken English HERE! Video Transcript Below: Hi guys, boys and girls and all fellow foreign English speakers who happen to be watching this video. Or alternatively if you're listening to the podcast, welcome to English Harmony podcast. Today's video or podcast, depending on which source you're using, whether it's my blog or YouTube channel or iTunes podcast, right? In today's podcast or video we're going to look at the following English idiomatic expression “doesn't cut it”, right? And if you're serious about your English fluency, you may want to stick with me for a few more minutes where you'll learn everything about this particular phrase. Hi guys and welcome back. So let me tell you one thing, right? If you are simply following my blog and watching my videos and listening to the podcasts but you are not actually actively involved in spoken English practice, it just won't cut it. It's simple as that. It just won't cut it. It's not going to improve your ability to speak. You're going to improve your passive vocabulary, meaning you'll be able to recognize a whole lot more but you're not going to be able to use it all in your speech. And listening alone and reading alone, basically passive immersion alone just won't cut it. And this was a typical example of how to use this particular phrase “doesn't cut it.” It simply means, it's not enough. Whatever you were mentioning previously in your conversation is not going to be enough to achieve the desired results. And to put it simpler, it just won't cut it. (more…)
How to Give Weight to Your Opinion? Use Smart English Phrases!
English Idiomatic Expression: “In This Day and Age”
Today we’re going to look at the following English idiomatic expression: “In this day and age”. It’s very relevant when discussing various issues in connection with modern times such as technology or any other aspect of our lives that has seen rapid improvement. To see what exactly I mean by that however, you should definitely watch the video above because I’ve included a lot of examples in it on how to use this English phrase. In this day and age recording videos is easier than ever, and also publishing them on YouTube is very straightforward. It can be literally done with a push of a button, and it would be foolish of me not to take advantage of it! But if you’ve been reading this article, you surely noticed I already provided an example of the phrase “in this day and age” – the previous paragraph actually begins with this idiomatic expression. (more…)
You Think I Speak Fluent English Because I Live In Ireland? Nope!
Tip for YearOfEnglish.com Subscribers: Learn English Song Lyrics!
Put Yourself in a Position of Power: Don’t Be Sorry for Your Mistakes!
I receive regular inquiries about English fluency improvement, and many of those e-mails contain the same sentence “I’m sorry for my bad English” or “I’m sorry for my mistakes”. And the funny thing is, not all of those e-mails are riddled with errors, some of them are written in very good English, so obviously it’s the writer’s confidence that needs a little bit of an improvement, not so much their English! Of course, I’m also getting inquiries from beginning English learners and in some of those e-mails it’s obvious where that person has struggled to pick the right word and where the sentence structure isn’t probably as good as that of an intermediate or an advanced English speaker. Still, it’s not a reason good enough to apologize for your English. No matter what level you’re at, you have to focus on what you CAN say or write instead of focusing on what you CAN’T! (more…)
Can You Become Fluent in English if You Don’t Have a Talent for Languages?
Time and time again I’ve been told by all sorts of different people that I have a talent for languages. And when they find out I speak three languages fluently – Latvian, Russian and English – their opinion of my abilities is pretty much identical: “Robby, you’re naturally gifted when it comes to language learning! I wish I were like you!” And guess what? I think it’s a load of crap! I honestly believe that my ability to speak three languages fluently has nothing to do with my alleged talent for languages. And I also believe that ANYONE is capable of learning to speak English fluently regardless of whether you believe you have a talent for it or not. It’s just that most people don’t realize they have the potential to become fluent in English due to one or all of the following reasons: They think they’re not naturally gifted so they don’t WORK HARD on their English Deep down inside they know they’re too lazy to do something about their English skills so they use the lack of talent as an EXCUSE They’re using the WRONG METHODS to improve their English so the whole “I’m not naturally gifted at languages” thing becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy! Now, would you like me to prove to you that YOU DEFINITELY have what it takes to become fluent in English – and any other language for that matter? Then keep reading this article and don’t forget to leave a comment when you’re done! (more…)
10 Reasons Why English Is The World’s Language
It’s OK to Feel Like an Idiot – Sometimes Even Native English Speakers Get Tongue-tied!
I thought I’d become immune to embarrassment because I’ve been following my own advice on using decent doses of ignorance whenever I encountered embarrassing situations. Last weekend, however, I realized that I’m not as emotionally tough as I thought because I got to experience immense embarrassment while I was doing my weekly grocery shopping in the local supermarket… To cut a long story short, I ran into one of my work colleagues – he’s a nice Irish fella – and somehow we both got completely tongue-tied when facing each other. To make the matters worse, he had his wife with him and obviously the whole situation became extremely awkward because I’d never spoken to her. Also considering the fact that I’ve rarely said anything more to him than “Hello!” and “See ya!” at work, I don’t think you’ll find it hard to imagine how two adult men may not find ANYTHING to say to each other. Well, to tell you the truth, the resulting situation was so embarrassing that I literally lost control over it and it started to resemble an accident scene unfolding before my eyes. Do you know the feeling when you’re witnessing something terrible happen but your body freezes up and you’re unable to do anything? I was experiencing something similar at that moment because I felt I was losing grip on reality. Clearly the totally confused red-faced person who just stood staring at the other two people with no ability to say something sensible in English wasn’t me; it was someone else having taken over my body! And the Irish fella wasn’t in a much better position – he was as tongue-tied as me unable to come up with anything reasonable to say to me. As you can imagine, the morale of this story is that it doesn’t matter who you are – a foreign or a native English speaker. Either one of you can get tongue-tied BECAUSE OF EMBARRASSMENT and the language actually plays a little role in it! (more…)
6 Reasons Why Mythbusters is the Best TV Program for Improving Your Spoken English
You Don’t Have to Learn the EXACT Meaning of New English Words!
It’s hard to eradicate habits picked up over years upon years spent studying English in a traditional setting – textbooks, translation, plenty of grammar studies – you know the drill! One of the most lasting effects of such English studies is the desire to figure out what EXACTLY a new English word means. Let’s say, for example, you’re listening to a radio news broadcast and they’re saying that the death toll has reached two hundred people following a massive volcano eruption on some distant Pacific island (this is totally fictional, my friend, so don’t go looking up news online about a recent volcano eruption – you won’t find anything!) So, the overall message is quite clear – two hundred people have lost their lives, and while you mightn’t know the word TOLL, the context reveals its meaning in an indirect way. Here’s what should be going on in your head as you hear the sentence “…volcano … death toll reached 200…”: VOLCANO + DEATH + 200 PEOPLE = simply means 200 people have lost their lives. It shouldn’t be like this: VOLCANO + DEATH + TOLL … what the heck is TOLL? Will anyone help me out with this one, please? Tell me what is TOLL, I need to know what it is!!! Here’s what I believe. I strongly believe that any foreign English speaker behaving like this knows deep down inside what the word in question MIGHT mean, and they also get the overall message. They simply like asking questions because it’s encouraged in a school setting, and this kind of behaviour carries on into the adult life making those folks question everything and anything that isn’t 100% understandable and clear-set. Are you one of those folks? Then keep reading this article and hopefully we’ll be able to deal with this problem once and for all! (more…)
Taking a Break from Speaking English May Have a Positive Effect on Your Fluency!
Take Advantage of People Who Make You Really Fluent in English!
English Idiomatic Expression: Brought to My Attention
Hello everyone who’s eager to improve their spoken English! ;-) Has the importance of learning English phrases and expressions ever been brought to your attention? If you’ve been following my blog for a good while, I’m pretty sure you’re familiar with the concept of natural fluency acquisition via English phrases and idiomatic expressions. If, on the other hand, this is the first time you’re visiting my blog, let me explain to you in simplistic terms why idiomatic expressions are very important to you as an English student. Now, let’s take today’s phrase – BROUGHT TO MY ATTENTION. Imagine yourself having a conversation with someone, and during that conversation you want to say that something has been brought to your attention, in other words – something has been pointed out to you. If you conjugate the verb “to bring” every time you speak and you create the sentence from scratch in your head while speaking – BROUGHT TO MY ATTENTION – the resulting speech is going to be somewhat slow and hesitant. (more…)