If Someone Keeps Asking “Do You Understand Me?” – You May Indeed Run Into Fluency Issues!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ng3ebQ96lkE In today’s video I’m discussing a particular experience I had with my plumber recently. So, here’s the setup. I’m a foreign English speaker having some issues with my heating system at home. I’m ringing the company who delivered my stove to come over and inspect the heating system. A native English speaking plumber arrives the next day and we’re having a conversation about the issues I’m having. As you know, I’m a fluent English speaker (no bragging – I’m merely stating a fact!), so you’d think there would be no problems with getting the message across and being understood by a native English speaker, right? Well, that’s right – everything I was saying, the plumber understood perfectly! The main problem of the communication, however, was him saying at the end of each sentence: DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME? :mad: (more…)
Learning English Phrases Beats Learning Individual Words Hands Down!
Phrasal Verbs – Great Way To Improve Spoken English!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=/2-16WWZIUg44 Spoken English is stuffed with phrasal verbs and if you’re serious about improving your spoken English you definitely need to pay attention to them. What I find fascinating about the English language as such is that there are actually three types of English expressions – formal, colloquial and slang; these three are like separate dimensions of the same language. Colloquial English, which I also refer to as spoken English, is used in everyday situations and is stuffed with phrasal verbs which are also OK to use in more formal situations, and that’s the great thing about them :!: My native language – Latvian – has only two distinct vocabularies – formal and slang and there are no equivalents to phrasal verbs. But then modern English has been influenced by so many languages – Latin, French, Germanic languages and others – that it’s no surprise you can express nearly every action in so many different ways. Let’s have a look at the following example. You’re coming back from the local music store where you intended to buy concert tickets but unfortunately you didn’t get any. There’s a number of ways you can put the bad news to your friends. “I didn’t buy the tickets, I was too late and all of them had been already purchased” is quite a formal way of communicating the message to your peers – note the Past Perfect Tense “had been” and the formal verb “purchased”. A more friendly way of saying the same thing would be “I didn’t buy the tickets, I was too late and they were all snapped up” or “I didn’t buy the tickets, I was too late and they were all sold out”. Notice the phrasal verbs “to snap up” and “to sell out” – they’re typical to everyday English conversations and they’re not vulgar or rude in any way. As I said above - you can also use the same phrasal verbs in more formal situations with no problems! (more…)
It’s OK Not to Understand Something out of Context or Something Unexpected!
11 Love and Relationship Phrases for this Valentine’s Day
20 most common ‘Words often confused’ in English
Embedded Questions – When Reversing Word Order Isn’t Necessary
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eMEMmNpmc84 Today we’re going to look at a very simple yet often ignored English grammar feature which affects the word order in interrogative sentences, otherwise known as questions - and it's called embedded questions. As we all know, in a question the word order changes, and regardless of what word the sentence begins with – whether it’s an auxiliary verb such as ‘to do’ or one of those ‘wh’ words like ‘why’, ‘where’, ‘when’, or ‘who’ followed by an auxiliary verb – the word order in a question is the following – auxiliary verb followed by the subject and then followed by the main verb in infinitive and then followed by other words. So a statement “You broke the law by trying to help me” becomes “Did you break the law by trying to help me?” when words are re-arranged in a question form. Of course, it’s all common sense, and you’ve probably started wandering why I’m talking about something so simple in this practical English grammar lesson. Well, don’t be so rash, my friends, for here comes the tricky part! (more…)
Ask Me ANY English Grammar Related Question You May Have!
4 PRACTICAL Things You Didn’t Know About the English Language
Funny English Phrases: Driving Related Idioms
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=snkYnJPNHwQ Hello all YearOfEnglish.com members and just about anyone else reading this article right now! Today I’m bringing you a bunch of English idiomatic expressions originating from and also directly related to cars, driving and commuting in general. Correct me if I’m wrong, but driving is something we’re all directly connected to in some way, shape or form. If you don’t drive yourself, there’s a very good chance you’re being driven to and from work by some colleague of yours. Even if you commute by public transport, you’re definitely seeing cars on the road performing all different sorts of maneuver, and I’m pretty sure you’ve sometimes wondered how this or that particular driving related activity is called. Now, you have a great opportunity to spice up your English by adding on a few driving related English idioms to your active vocabulary! ;-) Just watch the video above (also repeat everything I say to ingrain those speech patterns into your brain!), read its transcript below, repeat and memorize the highlighted expressions, and don’t forget to do some spoken practice on your own! Remember – in order to learn to USE these phrases in your own conversations, you have to SPEAK them out loud many times over until it becomes your second nature! TRANSCRIPT OF THE ABOVE VIDEO: (more…)
How to Sound More Native-like in English: Start Saying “Yeah” and “Nah”!
English Idiomatic Expression: “The Fact of The Matter Is That…”
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…)
3 Grammar Mistakes Which Are OK in Spoken English
English Idiomatic Expression: “It goes to show”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5EHDvmpY7Vg Today’s English phrase “It goes to show” provides a very handy way of drawing a conclusion during a conversation; basically it links the two parts of your statement together – the first part where you’re explaining the nature of the problem, and the second part where you’re revealing the subsequent conclusion. This phrase can take many forms – depending on context: “It goes to show” “It just goes to show” “It simply goes to show” “Which goes to show” (more…)
Confidence Lesson From Kristen Stewart For All Foreign English Speakers
4 Reasons Why You Can’t Compare the Average Foreign English Speaker With a Small Child in a Native Speaking Family
Can Understand Everything But Can’t Reply in English?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=umdqX1IdIG4 Does this scenario characterize you as a foreign English speaker: You start a conversation with another English speaker; You’re listening to him or her and you understand 99% of what they’re saying; When it comes to replying to their questions, you just CAN’T SAY A THING! :mad: So, do you recognize yourself from the description above? Don’t worry, it’s nothing unusual, as a matter of fact, most foreign English speakers are struggling with similar communication problems for the simple reason that we tend to compare our English with that of the other person when we speak. As a result, we become acutely aware of shortcomings in our speech and we’re just afraid of opening our mouth in case we say something completely stupid… Is there a solution to this problem of not being able to respond to when you’re spoken to? Yes! (more…)
English Idiomatic Expression: “To say the least”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oXVwlh_trY4 Another day – another English idiomatic expression for you to learn! Today’s phrase is “to say the least”, and it’ll come in very handy whenever you need to make a sarcastic comment or you want to drop a polite hint without sounding openly confrontational. Want to listen to some sample sentences? Please watch the video above where I’m providing you with enough information so that you can use this idiomatic expression – “to say the least” – in your daily English conversations! And also make sure to repeat, memorize and use this phrase in your daily spoken English practice. It’s the only way you’ll add such and similar phrases to your active vocabulary. Why active vocabulary is so important for us, foreign English speakers? Read this article to find out more! Chat soon, Robby ;-)
English Harmony Q & A: Foreign Accent & Learning English for Free
1,000,000 English Grammar Questions Answered by Robby
Download PDF version of this article HERE! Hi guys! ;-) In this article I’ve combined all the English grammar-related questions from your comments on my previous article where I asked you to ask me any grammar questions that have been bothering you lately. I’m going to answer all of your questions in an easy-to-understand manner so as to not make you even more confused. I mean – what’s the point in providing an answer if it’s even more confusing than the original question, right? So basically when answering the questions, I’m not going to start throwing a lot of grammar-related terms around. Instead, I’ll provide simple and commonly used examples of how this or that particular grammar construct is to be used correctly and then you can take my advice on board and start using it the same way. Remember – it’s by far easier to learn one or two ways of using a certain grammar rule than to try and apply that rule on your entire speech! If you try to do the latter, you’ll start analyzing your speech too much and that will inevitably lead to fluency issues. So, without a further ado, let’s cut to the chase and let me answer all of your questions, my dear blog readers! Needless to say – you’re welcome to ask more questions in the comments section below! :grin: (more…)
4 Reasons I Wish I Was Born a Native English Speaker
What Books Would You Suggest to Improve My Spoken English?
This is a question I get asked quite often when people contact me – “Robby, I want to improve my spoken English. What books would you suggest?” The moment I read the question, I just can’t help but to think: “Why on Earth are you looking for a BOOK if it’s your SPOKEN English you want to improve?” To me it’s quite obvious that no amount of books will help you on your journey to become a fluent English speaker. If you want, we can do an experiment. Just give me your address and I’ll send a trailer-load of books to you and I bet you’re not going to gain an ounce of spoken English fluency after reading them all :!: You don’t believe me? Well, I’m a living proof of that – there was a time when I was literally devouring English fiction books and as a result I achieved a complete reading fluency. And guess what? I was still struggling with basic communication for the simple reason that reading books didn’t train my MOUTH :!: Basically the issue is the following: You may have the BEST English learning books and textbooks in the world, but they’re not going to make any difference to your ability to speak unless you PRACTICE YOUR SPOKEN ENGLISH… …which brings us to the REAL question: (more…)
30-day Vocabulary Acquisition Course- Day 29- Easier said than done!
Don’t Over-analyze Your English – Say SOMETHING!
Mimicking – The Best Way to Learn English Collocations!
If you read my previous blog post about English collocations, you’ll remember that a collocation is a group of two or more words that are naturally used together in written and spoken English – such as “a tough decision”, “renewable energy”, “foreseeable future” or “to draw a comparison between.” Many collocations are strong, which means that you if you replace one of the words with a synonym, native English speakers would notice that it doesn’t sound right. For instance, if you say “replenishable energy”, it would sound a bit odd because “renewable energy” has been accepted worldwide as a standard way to describe energy sources like wind, water and solar energy. Many collocations aren’t that strong. For instance if you say “a hard decision”, it sounds absolutely fine despite “a tough decision” being a standard collocation you’d find in English Grammar books. But why is it important for us, foreign English speakers? Why should we care about English collocations? The reason is simple enough. Bonds that keep words together in collocations also determine word PATTERNS in spoken and written English in general :!: We may be under impression that collocations were invented by English teachers in order to annoy students and make their studies harder. (Frankly speaking, I can partially agree with this if collocations are looked at as a separate section of English language studies instead of being used as an integral part of speaking and writing English.) In reality if we, foreigners, want to achieve English fluency we need to incorporate learning collocations in our daily English improving routine as part of acquiring new vocabulary and phraseology. You just can't ignore natural English word patterns otherwise your English will sound weird, simple as that! But don’t cram long collocation lists into your brain. Be selective! (more…)
I Got Stuck for Words in My Native Language – So Why Is It a Big Deal in English?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJT6Jdh9XaI Guess what happened to me during the last weekend while I was having a dinner with some Latvian friends of mine? I got stuck for words during one of the conversations! I wanted to point out the importance of something, and all of a sudden I couldn’t remember the word “important” in Latvian… despite it being my native language! :mad: You’d think that something like that would never happen to a native speaker, right? You’d think that the worst case scenario would involve forgetting a famous movie actor’s name, for example, and I’m pretty sure you’ve also have had such experiences when a person’s name is on the tip of your tongue yet you can’t remember it. Strangely enough, I couldn’t utter the word “important” in Latvian which is a pretty common word, and I got stuck in a middle of a sentence for a couple of seconds at least. Now, why am I telling you this on an English fluency improvement related blog? Well, it’s pretty straightforward! (more…)
30-day Vocabulary Acquisition Course- Day 28- Don’t sweat it!
Be Specific – Don’t Try to Make a General Statement When Explaining Something in English!
Fluent English can ONLY be acquired by learning IDIOMATIC EXPRESSIONS - and that's why I'm going to highlight them for you in RED! 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! Transcript Below: Hello everybody and welcome back to Robby's English Harmony video blog. It's been a while guys since I recorded my last video for the simple reason that I've been really, really busy at work and I have to study on top of my daily duties at work as well so it's really hectic lifestyle to say the least. And then when I'm coming home at night it's quite late as well and then I have to do all the other stuff, prepare for the next day, pack my food, prepare my clothing, walk the dog, whatever, respond to my emails, right? You guys are asking a lot of questions on a daily basis! So unfortunately my video recording days when I used to record at least one video a day or every few days are over. But it doesn't mean that I'm stopping it altogether. Not at all. It's quite the opposite actually, right? I'm actually enjoying this process immensely and for too many reasons. First of all, I love helping you guys. I love talking to my audience and obviously you love it, too. And secondly, it helps me improve my own spoken English, right? That's the way it goes. Anyhow, I'm having my morning coffee. Morning to you all! Cheers! (more…)
Check Out My First EVER Interviews – All About Me, English Fluency & How To Stop Struggling When Speaking in English!
Unnatural Collocations and Wrong Mental Associations
I've highlighted the importance of learning English collocations in many of my previous blog posts; this time let’s look at what happens if you create wrong associations in your mind between words in English as well as in your own language. If it doesn’t sound believable, just think of such quite a realistic situation. An ESL student is learning how to conjugate the verb ‘to be’ so he’s reciting the string of words “I am, you are, he, she, it is, we are, you are, they are…” in order to memorize the personal pronouns with the respective form of the verb ‘to be’. Now, when the student has repeated the aforementioned sequence of words for a good number of times, it imprints itself into his mind, and the desired effect has been achieved. Of course, for those words to stick with the student permanently, he needs to go back to them the next day, and then after a few more days – that’s the basic principle of spaced repetition. Anyway, the job is done, and the English student is now capable of using the verb ‘to be’ in real life conversations, isn’t that right? All right, fair enough! But now let’s try to remember how many times you’ve heard a foreign English speaker mix up the two personal pronouns – ‘he’ and ‘she’ – when speaking? I would say it happens quite often, and by the way – haven’t you made the same mistake at some stage during a quick chat in English? I have, and I have my own theory on why it happens. It’s all because wrong association has been created between the pronouns ‘he’ and ‘she’ when repeating the words “… he, she, it is…” :!: You’re training your mouth to pronounce those two words together in one phrase and later on even years after you were just a beginner English learner, you may catch yourself saying things like “You know, I haven’t seen her before. He… sorry, she… hmm… she is Jennifer’s sister and is going to work here for the next half year while Jen is away.” Had there been a strong separate connection created between words ‘she is and ‘he is’ followed by a contextual example or an abstract image of a male and female, you wouldn’t be making such mistakes. Your subconscious mind would be used to describing activities where females are involved as “she is…”, so I’ll say it once again – it’s all about unnatural collocations, and I have loads of advice in store for you on how to avoid creating wrong associations in your mind! Did it pique your interest? Then read on! (more…)
New English DIY Terms I Learned This Summer While Redecorating My New House
Idiomatic Expression: “In a spur of the moment”
This Exercise Will Help You Finally Master Those Annoying English Auxiliary Verbs!
Learning how to use auxiliary verbs in English (do, don’t, doesn’t, etc.) is one of the trickiest aspects of the language. It’s not at all intuitive and it’s only used in very particular contexts. Misusing an auxiliary verb is a costly error, yet even high-level English students tend to commit it. In a best case scenario, making such an error would expose you as a foreign speaker, which inherently invites judgment. In a worst case scenario, you could communicate something that is the complete opposite of what you’re trying to say. Fear not! Below is an exercise that will solve all of your auxiliary issues. And the best part about it is that all levels of English speakers from beginner all the way up to upper-intermediate can benefit from it. Here’s how it works. (more…)