Delivering a DVD set of English Harmony System 2.0 & Discussing my Job, Unemployment and Happiness!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hJ1suWBnQgU Here’s another broadcast from my car, and this time I’m driving to the local Post Office to deliver a DVD set of my English improving software – English Harmony System 2.0! I’m planning to discontinue the DVD sets at some stage in the near future anyway, so this is the last drive of this kind. You see – at the moment I’m working on the System’s update, and with a lot of new lessons added onto the software the DVD version becomes rather too expensive to manufacture and deliver. Also, considering we’re living in a digital era, it would make an awful lot of sense indeed to encourage my potential customers to contribute to the environment and go for a digital product instead. As we all know, all physical goods have a related carbon footprint, so the less goods we buy and get delivered, the less damage we do to our planet! Of course, I’m not going to turn the whole world’s environmental problems on their head, but then again – every little counts! (more…)
Car Video #3: Spontaneous Speech vs Slow Speech
Two Kinds of Mistakes Made by Foreigners When Speaking English
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
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JuOASHRMG00 Here’s another video where you can watch me speaking in English with myself while commuting to work, and this time around I’m trying a different approach to kick-start my English fluency: speaking as fast as possible. It’s one of the different English fluency management strategies, and I know I have to resort to this one because my fluency started dwindling yesterday afternoon. The day before was perfect, my fluency peaked at a two week high, but as it sometimes happens – a peak is followed by a drop :mad: , so I have to figure out a way of reverting back to my normal state of fluency. This is how I manage my fluency, and there are a lot of different strategies: slowing your speech down speaking with an accent (or rather allowing your native accent to come to fore) speaking using short sentences spitting out the first thing that crosses your mind instead of composing sentences in your head All these strategies have been tried and tested over the years, and it’s all a result of my own pursuit after English fluency. (more…)
Spoken English Practice While Driving to Work
11 Things English Fluency Has Given Me
Now that I can communicate in English with ease, I take everything that comes with it for granted. Looking back in time, however, I can clearly see that many aspects of my life in an English speaking country AND my personal life in general weren’t as fulfilled as these days. Even such a simple task as asking for price of roast chicken in a supermarket would make my heart race with the prospect of stuttering and not being understood properly! :mad: Here’s a list I came up with when trying to list as many advantages of being a fluent English speaker as I possibly could. The list is not exhaustive by any means, but it does paint a pretty clear picture of what an average foreign English speaker can achieve when possessing good English communication skills! And please don’t get me wrong – I didn’t create this list to brag about my fluency and make those who haven’t achieved it yet, feel bad about themselves. This list is rather intended to serve as a reminder of what awaits you at some stage in the future IF you’re among those foreigners still struggling with fluency! (more…)
Do You Speak English Enough? You’ve Gotta Speak ALL THE TIME!
Why It’s a Bad Idea to Categorize English Idioms when Learning Them!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x61xJ0pLL_k English idioms are very useful for foreign English speakers like you or me because they allow expressing our thoughts and voice our opinion quickly and using the same phrase in dozens and hundreds of similar situations. Let’s take the following idiom – “Chip on your shoulder”. You can use it in pretty much every situation when someone feels they’re treated unfairly and they’re acting defensively but it’s obvious that there’s no good reason for them to behave that way and they’re acting so because of their own insecurities. So instead of describing the whole situation you can just use this short phrase instead – “He’s always had a chip on his shoulder, that’s why he’s acting that way!” It saves you time and effort, and such and similar idioms are used worldwide – “chickens have come home to roost”, “on the ball” or “elephant in the room”. But here’s what I’ve noticed – many idiom directories like grouping idioms by the actual words contained in those idioms. For example, the two idioms about chickens and the elephant would fall under the same category – animal related idioms. It might sound like a good idea to give all those hundreds and thousands of idioms some structure and make them easy to find. When learning idioms, however, it may do more harm than good, so read the rest of this article to find out why I’m making such claims :!: (more…)
Is It Possible to Be Fluent without Knowing Grammar?
You’re Not Struggling With Your Fluency – You’re Struggling With Perfection!
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
I got out of the plane in the Dublin airport. The weather was great despite rumors that it rains 360 days a year in Ireland. I was full of expectations, and I was also slightly worried because all I knew for sure was that I’d signed up for a job in a warehouse. Everything else was left to my imagination and such insignificant details as where I’m going to live and how much I’ll have to pay for accommodation hadn’t been really communicated neither to me nor to other Latvian guys I met at the airport having signed up with the same international job recruitment agency. I didn’t care too much about it anyway. I’d nothing to lose because all I had was 50 euro in my pocket and a promise of a better life. In a couple of weeks’ time it turned out I’d singed up with the right agency. I was working for a large multinational logistics company, pay was good, and I was able to start stashing away significant amount of money on a weekly basis which was impossible in my previous life in Latvia where I’d been barely able to make my ends meet. Little that I knew back then, however, that my stay in Ireland wasn’t going to be just about making a better life for myself and my family. I couldn’t have imagined that living in an English speaking country would challenge me as an English speaker in ways I didn’t even know existed. It turned out that my English was quite poor for practical daily life and soon after my arrival in Ireland I started trying to improve my English so that I could function properly in an English speaking society. It took me long years to figure out that textbook based grammar studies and learning large English vocabulary lists didn’t really improve my ability to communicate with other English speakers. Now, 10 years on, long after I finally achieved English fluency I can say with honesty that it’s been one hell of a journey! Want to find out more about it? Then read the rest of this article! ;-) (more…)
Your English Has to Be Just Good Enough for You to Be Successful!
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…)
Don’t Try to Speak in English as if You Were Writing!
Don’t Make Conscious Effort When Improving Your English
Today’s article is dedicated to the importance of not forcing yourself when it comes to learning the English language and also when it comes to spoken English performance. Have you ever noticed that the harder you try to memorize new English vocabulary, the more difficult it actually becomes? Have you been trying to make certain English words part of your active vocabulary to no avail? And you certainly have had situations when you just can’t remember a word even though it’s right on the tip of your tongue! The funny thing is – the moment you stop forcing yourself to remember the word, it just pops up in your mind when you’ve stopped thinking about it… :grin: Similar things may have happened in terms of new English vocabulary acquisition – you remember odd words or phrases you’ve only heard a few times before and they’re stuck with you all the while you’re trying to drill some other words in your memory but they just keep evading you! (more…)
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!
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!
Â Recently I got interviewed by two English teachers for their websites – Ben who lives in Spain and Nate who’s settled down in Japan. These are my first interviews I’ve ever done, and as you can imagine, I had to use some of my own English fluency management strategies to keep a cool head, gather my thoughts and speak fluently because stress levels were high – especially in the beginning of those interviews! :grin: Listen to my interview with Ben HERE! And here you can watch 2 YouTube videos containing fragments from my interview with Ben: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N5ZWgF1pCy8 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YTQ39kQxee8 Click HERE to listen to me talking with Nate! What you can expect to hear in those interviews is pretty much everything about my background as a foreign English speaker – starting from my years long struggling to speak English fluently and ending with useful tips for my fellow foreigners on how to maintain fluent English speech. You'll also find out in those interviews: what is a "writing mode" of your mind and why it prevents you from speaking English fluently (interview with Ben) why speaking with yourself is the best way to improve your English when there's no-one to talk to (interview with Nate) and a whole lot more! So if you've got nothing to do on this Friday night (or any other day of the week), sit down at your laptop or PC and listen to me spilling the beans about what real English fluency is all about: Listen to my interview with Ben HERE! Click HERE to listen to me talking with Nate! Let me know what you think in the comments below! ;-)
1001 Ways To Use The Simplest English Verb “To PUT”!
You Can’t Listen Your Way to Fluency!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j615Jd-UUJs Should foreign English speakers focus mostly on listening to all sorts of English audio lessons, songs and films in order to improve their English fluency? This is somewhat a controversial topic because so many English teachers will tell you to engage in listening to specially prepared audios or just generally listening to English as much as you can in order to improve your fluency. I’ll tell you right upfront – it’s a flawed approach, and here’s why. When you listen, you develop your comprehension skills. Yes, those skills are important when it comes to communicating with English speaking people because it’s necessary for you to understand what you’re being told or asked... obviously! :-) Your overall fluency improvement, however, involves plenty of spoken English practice which basically means speaking :!: (more…)
Relax Your Abs to Get Your English Fluency Rock-Hard!
5 Reasons Why It’s Easier To Speak With Native English Speakers Than Other Foreigners
A big part of my blog is dedicated to dealing with difficulties arising when a foreign English speaker speaks with a native English speaker. Fear of making mistakes. Trying to sound too perfect. Comparing your speech with the native speaker and running into certain speech problems as a result. They’re just a few of the number of problems that we, foreigners, may face while in pursuit of English fluency! No wonder that sometimes we feel more comfortable speaking with our fellow foreigners because we feel like we’re on a level playing field. We’re less likely to be judged, so we don’t become self-conscious when speaking in English, right? We can also use simple language without worrying that our speech will sound too simplistic and that we’ll get a patronizing treatment - am I also not right in saying this? Well, it’s not always the case! Sometimes a conversation with another foreign English speaker may turn out to be just as difficult – if not even more cumbersome. All of a sudden, all those problems you were running into when speaking with natives seem like nothing compared to how awkward it is to speak with another foreigner… In reality, on most occasions it’s all a matter of perspective and most of those problems are only happening in your head. Still, I want to give you 5 reasons why speaking with a native speaker may be easier. So, let’s begin with the reason number one which is… (more…)
5 Things About Robby & The English Language You Probably Didn’t Know
English Fluency Doesn’t Mean Being Able To Speak About EVERYTHING
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!
This blog’s main focus is the spoken English improvement, yet in reality I spend a lot of time creating written content for my blog visitors to enjoy. Here are a few facts about me and writing in English: I’ve been regularly creating written content in English for the last 6 years – I’ve worked in IT customer support (constant e-mailing), I’ve been involved in a few online projects (content creation – articles, video scripts) and I’ve been regularly writing articles for this blog. If I really set my mind to it, I can write a 1000 word article in about an hour. Of course, speed isn’t an indication of one’s ability to write fluently and in a native-like fashion; however, the point is – I write as if I were speaking, and that’s part of the success formula to become a good writer. A few years ago I was involved in an Internet-based project catering for a native English speaking audience and over the course of a couple of years NO-ONE EVER hinted that the content creator might be a foreigner – even though my English wasn’t as developed as it is now. So, the point I’m trying to make here is that writing like a native English speaker is easier than you may think! ;-) (more…)
What You Can Learn from My Countryman’s Adventures in Britain’s Got Talent
My Honest Opinion on Developing English Listening Skills
I hate when I’m told what I didn’t ask for, and so do most people for that matter. Let’s say for instance, I walk into a drug-store and ask for slimming pills because I’m fed up with my extra weight and I want to look more masculine. The pharmacist starts telling me that I should start engaging in some physical activities, eat a balanced diet and use the pills only as a supplement. Would I listen to him? Nope! All that rant about a balanced diet and a workout regime simply wouldn’t register with me because I want the damn slimming pills which will give me the kind of a body I’m dreaming of, right? Same goes with most advice we get in life – it’s very hard to change our beliefs and opinions just because someone tries to convince us of something. Basically it boils down to this – we often hear what we want to hear, and we just screen off everything else - unless we’re really trying to analyse the matter at hand and we have an open mind while doing so :!: For example, I’ve been blogging about English fluency development for years on end, and I always point out the following things: To speak fluent English we need to engage in HEAVY SPEAKING PRACTICE, there are no magic shortcuts! Passive English immersion will mostly develop our understanding – NOT OUT ABILITY TO SPEAK! You can’t listen your way to fluency, you need to speak in order to train your mouth and mind to work together! Still there are many English teachers out there preaching the importance of English listening practice. Some even claim that first we have to spend all our time listening just like babies do, and then we’ll be able to start speaking… Now I’ll adopt the role of the pharmacist trying to tell you something you probably don’t want to hear – but I’ll give it a shot nonetheless! (more…)
Check Out the Most Popular Articles on This Blog!
Popular Misconceptions About Foreign English Speakers
Whether it’s portraying Russians in Hollywood blockbusters or judging foreigners by one short conversation and assuming that their overall English fluency must be flawed because they’ve made a couple of awkward mistakes – there are a lot of misconceptions out there about us, foreign English speakers :!: In this article I’m going to look at the most popular ones and while I’m fully aware of the fact that I won’t be able to dispel those stereotypes, it doesn’t mean I can’t talk about them, does it? Foreigners portrayed in films speak like native English speakers except for their accent I’ve met thousands of foreign English speakers throughout my life, and I can tell you this much – a foreign English speaker who gets English grammar 100% correct while speaking is a rare creature to find! And I’m not speaking of a person with foreign origin who’s moved to an English speaking country during childhood or teenage years and has achieved a native-like fluency by the time he’s an adult. I’m speaking about typical foreigners who speak English with a smaller or a bigger foreign accent just like the ones typically portrayed in films and TV shows. As you can imagine, the reason behind it is because on 99% of occasions actors portraying foreigners in movies are native English speaking actors with accent talents :!: (more…)
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!
Accelerated American Slang Learning: Watching all 7 Seasons of Desperate Housewives in Less than 3 Months
Can you improve your English JUST by watching TV programs? Yes, sure. You can learn a great deal of new English words and expressions thanks to visual associations created when you see a scene on the screen and hear a certain phrase or expression. Also, it’s much easier to understand meanings of new English words if you see all the action unfold before your eyes. Can you make a CONSIDERABLE difference in your English fluency by watching TV shows in English? Yes, but it will require some effort because by listening alone you’ll mostly develop your passive vocabulary. Your active vocabulary – the one you use when speaking – is developed when you USE those new English phrases and expressions in your own conversations. So, while I was watching the Desperate Housewives box-set I got my wife for Christmas, I did all the following: I shadowed the characters with the subtitles turned on; I took notes of new English phrases and American slang expressions; I purposefully used those new expressions in my English conversations at work and also when practicing spoken English with myself. It all started quite innocently. I didn’t mean to spend the whole month of January, February and a week in March glued to the screen watching a TV soap loved mostly by members of the opposite sex. I simply watched one episode of Desperate Housewives with my family during last Christmas Holidays – I guess, I just wanted to see what all the fuss is about! And that, my dear friends foreign English speakers, was it… I was literally sucked into it! I couldn’t have imagined that Desperate Housewives was so intriguing and interesting! Illicit affairs, murders, scheming and dark secrets – and it all wrapped up as a comedy. Awesome! So, what I learned while watching around 160 episodes of Desperate Housewives within a matter of 10 weeks? I learned loads of American slang expressions, new vocabulary, phrasal verbs and idiomatic expressions – and that’s not all :!: I also tried to speak like an American while shadowing the actors and I realized that I’m not too bad at speaking with an American accent! Here’s just a few of the idiomatic expressions and American slang phrases I added on to my active English vocabulary: (more…)