Check Out My NEW Blog AccentAdventure.com!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rNH2K3fw-qU I started EnglishHarmony.com back in 2007 – so it’s almost 5 years in operation! This year, however, marks the birth of another blog of mine – namely, AccentAdventure.com! It’s a new blog I started earlier this summer, and it’s dedicated to learning different English accents. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll know my stance on pronunciation and accent related issues. The advice I always give to my fellow foreigners is – “Speak the way you’re comfortable, don’t try to bend over backwards just to get your English pronunciation perfect because you’re running the risk of ruining your English fluency!” Having said this, however, I’ve NEVER ENCOURAGED my fellow foreign English speakers to NEGLECT the pronunciation aspect of their spoken English; I’ve never said – “Who cares about pronunciation, speak however you want!” A lot of people have misinterpreted my advice and I’ve received quite a few comments blaming me for sending out the wrong message. And I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest to receive a couple comments on this video blog post saying that I’m being a hypocrite by first telling everyone not to care about proper pronunciation and then learning to speak like an American which obviously contradicts my previous claims! Now, let me get this one straight. The purpose of the AccentAdventure.comÂ blog is to show that it is POSSIBLE to learn to speak like an American, Brit, Australian or any other native English speaker if you invest enough time and effort into the process! Also, I want to use this new blog as a platform to reveal popular misconceptions surrounding accent acquisition – same way I’m using this blog to show how ineffective traditional studies are when it comes to oral English fluency. For instance, I don’t believe it’s necessary to focus on accent reduction; this term is wrong! I also think it’s totally wrong to learn pronunciation by learning what way certain English vowels can be pronounced etc. It’s 100 times more efficient to learn how to pronounce certain words and sentences; if you learn to analyze separate sounds and how they can be pronounced you’ll end up in a ‘paralysis by analysis’ situation! So, basically if you’re interested in certain tips and tricks on improving your English pronunciation and accent – definitely make sure to check out my new blog at AccentAdventure.com! Robby ;-)
Delivering a DVD set of English Harmony System 2.0 & Discussing my Job, Unemployment and Happiness!
Car Video #3: Spontaneous Speech vs Slow Speech
Two Kinds of Mistakes Made by Foreigners When Speaking English
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2woUXuLZQDY I’ve been writing extensively about the topic of making mistakes when speaking in English, and I’m sure you know my stance by now – you don’t have to worry about making mistakes too much :!: You’re much better off making sure you use a lot of popular phrases and word combinations when speaking and that way you’ll be constantly working on your fluency! There are folks, however, who feel strongly about this topic. They think I’m sending the wrong message to my audience by condoning erroneous speech. They are strong proponents of the ‘make sure to speak 100% correctly whenever opening your mouth’ approach, and they’re worried my articles and videos will teach my fellow foreigners bad habits and they won’t be able to get rid of their spoken English mistakes! Let me address this issue now and settle the matter once and for all so that we’re on the same page when discussing any mistake related issues in the future! ;-) (more…)
Is It a Problem if Your English is Too Simple, Plain and Lacking Smart Words and Expressions?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HsF_IZ7yhG4 I’m receiving quite a high volume of e-mails on a daily basis and they’re all related to English improvement and fluency in some way, shape or form. Today I received an e-mail from a gentleman whose name I’ll keep anonymous – of course! – and he explains the following situation. He’s been told by his friend that his English is quite fluent (which is a reason to celebrate on its own!) but he lacks sophisticated vocabulary and different means of expression – such as phrases, idiomatic expressions and so on. Basically my fellow foreign English speaker asking the question feels that as far as his speech is understandable and he’s making his point, he’s fine. So he wants to know what my take on this issue is, and that’s exactly what I’m doing in the video above! I’m giving a thorough analysis of the issue in question, and I hope all of you will find this video useful! Of course, don’t hesitate to leave your questions in the comments below! Chat soon, Robby ;-)
Practicing Spoken English in Car: Part 2
Spoken English Practice While Driving to Work
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zj8x_bp-9fA Are you curious about how I do my daily spoken English practice? Then here you can have a peek at my typical morning in a car while commuting to work. It takes me around 30 minutes to make the full journey, but don’t worry – I recorded only 15 minutes of it so that you don’t have to spend that much time glued to the monitor! Basically this gives you a pretty good idea of what your own spoken English practice might look like if you’ve been considering doing it but never really got round to it. It’s easy, you’re just voicing your thoughts and killing your time while at the same time improving your fluency. Sounds like a win-win situation for me, what do you think? ;-) Robby
11 Things English Fluency Has Given Me
Do You Speak English Enough? You’ve Gotta Speak ALL THE TIME!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QLvjnC515co Are you immersed into the English language 27/7/365 - meaning you are married to an English speaker or you only go out with other English speakers? If so - great, your spoken English is probably good enough and you don't really have any fluency related issues! ;-) IF your English exposure is limited, however, you just HAVE to do some additional spoken English practicing, there's no doubt about that as it's been proven by my personal experience. What am I talking about here? Well - watch the video above and you'll find out EXACTLY what I'm on about here: * my history as a failed English speaker * importance of a daily spoken English practice to keep your fluency sharp * why MOUTH for you is the most important body part! Stay fluent, stay confident, and all kinds of comments welcome here! Robby ;-)
Why It’s a Bad Idea to Categorize English Idioms when Learning Them!
Is It Possible to Be Fluent without Knowing Grammar?
You’re Not Struggling With Your Fluency – You’re Struggling With Perfection!
Oftentimes we foreigners feel we struggle to say the right thing during a conversation with other English speakers. Or – we struggle TO SAY THINGS RIGHT which isn’t the same exact problem as the aforementioned one. In the first situation you don’t how WHAT to say, but in the second one you’re struggling to say in RIGHT. Nonetheless, the problem of struggling to have a fluent, free conversation in English with someone is often just a matter of perspective. While inside your head you’re all confused and frustrated by your inability to speak just as fluently as you’d write, your conversation partner mightn't actually see your seemingly flawed speech in the same light! So why not just cut yourself some slack, and speak without worrying about mistakes you might be making or things you might be saying in a way natives don’t normally speak? I believe you’re much better off feeling free and make mistakes rather than struggle every time you have to speak in English… and still make mistakes! (more…)
Use English Comparative and Superlative Adjectives Sparingly – Better Describe than Compare!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9JwdPhNlUc Here’s a couple of English adjective related problems even an advanced foreigner might run into when having a conversation with others. PROBLEM #1: Analyzing your speech from the grammar standpoint Let’s say for example, you want to describe something during a conversation, but your mind keeps going back to the tables in your English grammar textbook where irregular adjectives were listed. It may happen completely involuntarily, but it’s this traditional way of structuring adjectives according to their forms that makes you analyze the structure of a sentence instead of being fully engaged into the conversation. That in turn may result in all sorts of English fluency issues! PROBLEM #2: Limiting your means of expression You may be brilliant at describing and comparing objects, living creatures and people, but if you only stick with the traditional system – adjective – comparative adjective – superlative adjective – you’ll limit your spoken English development. For example, in a sentence “She’s really resourceful in the way she solves practical problems compared to her sister”… the word ‘resourceful’ isn’t a comparative form of some other adjective. If your mind is tuned to the standard way of using adjectives, however, you may find that you just can’t see past the standard way of using the same adjective you already described her sister with. Let’s say for example, you described her sister as not being practical, so if you go down the traditional adjective comparison road, you automatically may say – “she’s more practical than her sister”. Well, it’s not a bad thing in itself, but it’s just that on certain occasions it may limit your ability to speak freely and improvise. So how do you develop your ability to speak automatically and without analyzing too much if you’ve got to use this or that particular adjective form? WATCH THIS VIDEO WHICH EXPLAINS MY MISTAKE USING 'ADVERBS' INSTEAD OF 'ADJECTIVES' THROUGHOUT THE VIDEO ABOVE... SORRY! ;-) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DuDsWq-LEN4 (more…)
My 5 Year Long Journey to English Fluency
Your English Has to Be Just Good Enough for You to Be Successful!
Check out the following videos (at the very least listen to 20 - 30 secs of how these foreign English speakers speak): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DgbdNNfotwM https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJolDZMM67Q What do you think all these people have in common except for being foreign English speakers? First of all, their English ISN’T PERFECT :!: If you’re one of those perfectionists out there who’s constantly watching out for mistakes made by other foreign English speakers, you’ll notice small flaws and imperfections in Dr. Coldwell’s and Wagner’s spoken English. Secondly, they’re 100% CONFIDENT :!: Lastly, they’re really PASSIONATE about what they’re doing :!: and they’re totally focused on the matter at hand when speaking about it. What does this all mean for you as a foreign English speaker? If you’re really dedicated to something, you can become very successful without focusing on perfecting your spoken English! You may spend your whole life trying to achieve a near-native level of English – but then it’s going to be too late to realize your dreams in terms of your professional and social life. Or you can SET YOUR GOALS NOW, start taking action and improve your English as you go along according to the specific needs and requirements of the particular industry or a different aspect of your life. Remember – your English has to be just good enough for you to be successful ;-) (more…)
20 Random Thoughts on English Fluency, Foreign English Speakers and Life in General
Don’t Try to Speak in English as if You Were Writing!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HGJr9vMqMnE 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…)
Don’t Make Conscious Effort When Improving Your English
3 Situations When It Might Be Easier For You To Speak in English With Your Fellow Foreigners
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…)
Simple vs Sophisticated Vocabulary? It’s All Just Semantics (Interpretation)!
Have you ever caught yourself thinking that your English vocabulary needs to be spruced up because it’s too simplistic? Have you recently sat an English exam and you’re dreading a bad spoken test result because you feel you didn’t use enough of fancy vocabulary when answering questions? Do you honestly believe people will judge your English speech based on your choice of words so you’re trying to go for less-known vocabulary when speaking in English with others? Then you may want to give it a second thought because in reality there’s no such thing as simple and advanced vocabulary :!: Everything is a matter of perspective, and while everyone would agree that, for example, a word ‘doglike’ is a much simpler version of ‘canine’, there’s no real reason for that sentiment other than the fact that ‘canine’ isn’t used that often in everyday conversations. So is that all there is to it? Are English words ‘made-up’, ‘exciting’ and a sentence ‘It makes me feel so free’ ranking much lower on the alleged vocabulary importance scale than their counterparts ‘fictitious’, ‘exhilarating’ and ‘It’s a liberating experience’ just because you’d find them in the first year’s English textbook? Or are there more dimensions to this whole simple vs sophisticated English vocabulary discussion? Read the rest of this article to find it out, and also join the discussion in the comments below! ;-) Alternatively, you may want to check out this list of sophisticated practical English phrases you can use in your daily life! (more…)
Check Out My First EVER Interviews – All About Me, English Fluency & How To Stop Struggling When Speaking in English!
1001 Ways To Use The Simplest English Verb “To PUT”!
When I was a kid and only started to familiarize myself with the basics of the English language, one of the first English words I learnt must have been the verb ‘to put’. Why I think so? Well, I remember translating the name of one of the Tom & Jerry cartoons called “Puttin’ On The Dog” in my notebook, and it would have been one of my first encounters with the English language. Shortly after, I was introduced to Ogden’s “Basic English” and the verb ‘to put’ was one of the 850 English words you would have to learn to become a competent English user. Ogden’s key principle was simplicity and he claimed that it is possible to paraphrase any English sentence using only 850 Basic English vocabulary words. I’ll admit that on many occasions important connotations are lost by reducing concepts to the Basic English vocabulary, there is no doubt about it. Let’s say for example, “He was shot in the head” would become “They used a gun to put a small metal thing in his head”. See what I’m talking about? Still, it’s a great example of how ANYTHING can be explained using very simple words so lack of vocabulary is really no excuse for not being able to explain something in English, my friends foreigners! How does this all tie in with the headline of this article? You see, the thing is that English verbs such as ‘to PUT’ and similar play an important role in helping struggling foreign English speakers to ride over bumps in their fluency :!: When you struggle to express your opinion in English using vocabulary you would normally use, it’s very easy to paraphrase more complex verbs by using ‘to PUT’ combined with the appropriate noun. Can’t think of the verb ‘to return’? Use ‘to put back’ instead! Got stuck in the middle of a sentence because you just can’t describe the concept of forgetting painful experiences and moving on? (different phrases – “get over it”, “just forget about it” – are floating in your mind but you can’t seem to use the right one in that split second?) Use "put it behind you" instead! And, considering that you are by no means limited to Ogden’s 850 words, it’s not hard to imagine that your speech is not going to sound too simplistic because of it! You can say things like – “Put a bullet in his head” - which is a totally valid English expression without the risk of sounding as if your English vocabulary consists of only 850 words. (more…)
You Can’t Listen Your Way to Fluency!
Relax Your Abs to Get Your English Fluency Rock-Hard!
When you speak in English with someone, there’s more than just your mind and mouth involved. You’ve probably rarely given it a thought, but when we speak, our WHOLE BODY participates in the verbal and non-verbal communication. Your body responds to stimuli emitted by your brain. That’s why you tense up in stressful situations – your embarrassment, anxiety and stress translates in real body reactions. So far nothing new, right? Let’s keep going! The feedback between your body and mind actually goes both ways. Not only your emotions influence your body reactions – the opposite is also true! Basically I’m talking about how you can influence your mind and mental performance in terms of English communication by controlling your body. It’s nothing revolutionary, but it’s another useful strategy to be added onto a number of English fluency management techniques I’ve spoken about in the very detail on this blog. (more…)
5 Reasons Why It’s Easier To Speak With Native English Speakers Than Other Foreigners
5 Things About Robby & The English Language You Probably Didn’t Know
English Fluency Doesn’t Mean Being Able To Speak About EVERYTHING
I’d be totally lost if you started talking with me about herbal medicine, carpentry or car tuning and modification. On the other hand, I’d have a comfortable conversation with someone who’s dealing with knitwear because I’ve been working in a knitwear factory for well over three years now and I know the manufacturing process inside out! Do you see where I’m coming from? You can’t expect anyone to speak equally well about any given topic in English because every person’s profile is different :!: I would find it difficult to name but a few popular flowers such as roses, daffodils and tulips. Some other foreign English speaker working in a flower farm could probably name any possible flower that can be seen in a flower shop! And it’s not just limited to specific industry terms. If you started bombarding me with the latest news from the English Premier League, nearly all of that information would be lost on me because I’m not into soccer. Well, if you were patient with me and took time to explain little details and everything, then yes, of course I’d understand. It’s just that when I hear other guys discuss soccer at work, I don’t even try to follow their conversations – let alone trying to take part in the discussion! I mean – what’s the point in pretending to be a know-it-all if I actually don’t know much about this or that particular subject? (more…)
Want to Improve Your English? Stop Watching TV in Your Language!
Watching TV alone won’t help you to speak fluent English. Yet if you spend most of your time wrapped up in your native language bubble watching TV in your language, you’ll deprive yourself of so much needed passive exposure to the English language which will help you to integrate into the society! To be honest with you, I don’t understand my fellow Latvians and other foreigners living in Ireland who only watch films dubbed in their native languages and opt for different online based solutions to enjoy TV channels from their home countries. You can accuse me of not being a patriot of my nation, but I think it’s plain silly to move to an English speaking country without making any conscious effort of fitting into the local society. Watching TV makes up a big part of our daily lives these days, and if you watch English TV shows and programs and enjoy latest movies in English, over years you’ll absorb an awful lot of new English vocabulary and expressions which will allow you to understand English spoken around you. You’ll also be able to: discuss popular TV programs with your English speaking friends and work colleagues; improve your spoken English by using new phraseology in your daily conversations; develop a sense of belonging among the locals. You don’t have to deny your national background. It’s something no-one will ever take away from you, and personally I spend loads of time with my family, friends and relatives speaking in Latvian and I keep up-to-date with the latest developments in my home country by checking news online etc. Once you’ve made the decision to move to an English speaking country, however, I think it’s only common sense that you keep an open mind, make some effort to fit into the local society, and use the English language as means of achieving it! (more…)
3 Killer Tips on How to Write in English Like a Native Speaker!
What You Can Learn from My Countryman’s Adventures in Britain’s Got Talent
I want you to meet Gatis Kandis – he’s my fellow countryman and recently he was taking part in Britain’s Got Talent where he was doing stand-up comedy. He got through to semi-finals and while he got the first YES from the judges for the wrong reasons (he was branded by Simon Cowell as the funniest unfunniest comedian which I don’t think was true), there’s a great deal we can learn from him, and that’s why I decided to dedicate a whole article on my blog to him! First of all, he’s pursuing his dream of becoming a stand-up comedian while being a foreigner living in an English speaking country. It definitely took some courage and dedication to get onto the stage for the first time without knowing what the public reaction is going to be, but obviously it didn’t deter him from doing it. Secondly, there are always those who’ll point out a foreigner’s accent and mistake it for lack of English skills or whatever. I’m still getting the same treatment on certain occasions because of my own accent, and I’ve learnt a long time ago that ignorance is the only way to deal with it – obviously Gatis has adopted the same approach and it’s paying off big time! (more…)
My Honest Opinion on Developing English Listening Skills
Check Out the Most Popular Articles on This Blog!
One day I decided to check the statistics of my website and see which blog posts you’ve been reading the most. I selected the top 10 articles and I guess it provides a fair representation of what my average blog visitor is interested in, so you may want to check out the top 10 of English Harmony blog posts of all times! If you visit this blog frequently, you’ve probably read a good few of them, but I’m sure you’ll find at least a couple of links you haven’t encountered before and they might just provide you with some English fluency related info you’ve been looking for to no avail. So, let the countdown begin! (more…)
Popular Misconceptions About Foreign English Speakers
Speaking With Yourself Isn’t As Different From Speaking With Others As You Might Have Thought!
My Experience in a Polish Beauty Salon & What Foreign English Speakers Can Learn From It!
OK, it’s about time I came clean about my activities involving skin rejuvenation procedures and wrinkle treatment. Yes, I’m getting older, there’s a lot of grey hair emerging on my head, so I want to do everything within my power to fight the effects of time and look young forever… Just kidding! :grin: It’s not really me who used services of the beauty salon – it was my daughter and I just brought her there. I used it as an attention grabber and I just wanted to entice you to start reading this article, which is probably just as bad as lying, sorry for that! ;-) Keep reading this article though, because I’m about to tell you why my visit to the Polish beauty salon was more than just sitting in the hall and waiting on my daughter to finish her facial procedure. I got talking to the salon owner – a Polish woman – and what struck me was the fact that her English pronunciation was nearly perfect. Seriously, I couldn’t remember meeting any other foreigner here in Ireland having such a near-native level of English accent. Or should I say – lack of thereof – because at times she sounded exactly like the local English speakers! (for your reference – English spoken in Ireland is a bit different in terms of pronunciation and grammar than its American, British and Australian counterparts.) Me and my wife were chatting with her for a while, and I started noticing another thing – her English would probably upset some radical English language perfectionists because she was making a few grammar mistakes, especially when it came to using the Past Perfect Tense and grammar constructs like Conditional 2 Simple. Not that I would ever judge her; if there’s someone who’s adamant that foreign English speakers focus on what they CAN say instead of what they can’t - it’s me! I was simply amazed at how confident she was and how fluently she spoke despite allowing a slight imperfection to creep into her speech every now and then. And you know what? It didn’t hinder the communication between me, my wife and the salon owner a bit; we could speak with her with the same ease as we’d speak with native English speakers. (more…)