Stop Preparing Speech In Your Head Beforehand!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YqAgLOL0NYU Do you often catch yourself thinking of what exactly you’re going to say a few moments before you say the actual thing? Do you frequently make mistakes such as saying the wrong word or mixing up letters in words because you constantly think of a number of different ways to say the particular thing? If you recognize yourself from my description, don’t worry, you’re not unique. There are thousands of other foreign English speakers who speak following the same pattern – they prepare speech in their head beforehand and then try to say it out loud. As you already know, it creates all sorts of English fluency issues with the most noticeable being hesitation, stuttering and using wrong words or wrong grammar constructs. In other words, you sound very uncertain and your conversation partner may get the impression that you don’t really know what to say although in reality it’s quite the opposite… You know exactly what you want to say, and you know how to say it in five different ways, and all those sentences are right here, in your mind, it’s just that when you speak out loud you kind of want to say it all at once! :mad: I’ve been in the same boat, my friend. I know exactly how it feels and I also know what causes this problem. Would you like to understand the reasons behind this issue so that you can start dealing with it? Then stay with me for a few more minutes and I’ll explain everything to you! (more…)
English Fluency Monitoring & Management
Want To Seriously Improve Your Spoken English? Find a Hobby For Yourself!
Confidence Lesson From Kristen Stewart For All Foreign English Speakers
A while back I published a blog post where IÂ analyzedÂ Benicio Del Toro’s interview. I did it in order to prove to any of you that even native English speakers will hesitate, use simple, short sentences and sometimes even say complete non-sense when asked a question they haven’t had time to think about properly! So is it such a big deal if we, foreign English speakers, can’t say something straight away when we get stuck in a middle of a sentence or can’t wrap words around our thoughts? Of course it’s not! There are only two things that make us different from native English speakers – we hate when others make assumptions about our level of English and many of us are perfectionists trying to finish a sentence once we started it and also trying to make it perfect in terms of grammar and word choice. If you learn to ignore those two factors, however, I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t give an interview just like Kristen Stewart from Twilight did - or even a better one! Now, watch the video below, listen carefully to the whole interview and then read the rest of this article. It just might make a big difference to your spoken English confidence, my friend! ;-) (more…)
5 Ways of Passive English Immersion
Recently I wrote an article about 4 Ways of Active English Immersion which included thinking, counting and also speaking with yourself in English – mad stuff altogether! But in order to achieve complete English fluency you should be prepared to resort to unconventional methods, and I really suggest you put my advice to good use if you want to see your spoken English come along. Let’s face the truth, however – you can’t possibly speak English ALL THE TIME. There will be times when you just lie down on a couch to relax after a hard day’s work when all you want to do is enjoy a movie or your favorite TV show, or have a read… As you might have already guessed, today’s blog post is about passive English immersion. It’s when you don’t get actively involved in the process through speaking but you soak up the information by listening, watching and reading. Before we look at the ways you can achieve passive English immersion, here’s another nugget of information for you. It’s been widely claimed that the first stage of any language acquisition is mostly listening and only then comes the speaking phase. Parallels are drawn between studying English and how small children learn their first language. Apparently the child doesn’t know how to speak and he only listens to adults and then starts to replicate sounds, words, and sentences. The proponents of this theory conclude that adult language learners should replicate this language acquisition model because it’s obviously the most natural one, isn’t it? This notion has become so common that many English teachers will even tell you to focus predominantly on listening and reading in order to prepare yourself for the next stage which is speaking… My dear foreign English speakers! It’s the biggest load of crap you’ll ever come across when it comes to learning and improving the English language! The simple truth is – and you can read my life story here - that you just won’t become a fluent English speaker no matter how much time you spend on reading and listening. Passive English immersion is great combined with active immersion and the priority ALWAYS goes to the latter one :!: It’s your MOUTH that you speak with, not your eyes or your ears, and I don’t understand why it’s so difficult to get it? If you spend most of your time listening and reading, you’ll develop huge passive vocabulary (words you RECOGNIZE but struggle using in real life conversations). If you spend most of your time speaking, on the other hand, you’ll develop your ability to speak, and it should be the top priority to any foreign English speaker. So – use the following passive English immersion methods in between your active immersion activities, and you will see your English improve in no time! (more…)
4 Ways of Active English Immersion for Foreign English Speakers
Speaking English in Unfamiliar Settings: Why You’re Ashamed of Speaking With Your Friends in English
Unless you live in a full English immersion 24/7/365 (which is quite an unrealistic scenario unless you’re married into an English speaking family and lost all connections with your home country…), you’re using both – English and your native language on a continuous basis. Usage of English, however, is most likely limited to certain times of the day and certain locations. Traditionally, you’d speak in your native language with your family members and English at work and friends. Sometimes, however, you might be required to speak English on occasions that would normally be associated with using your native language and it may pose some difficulties – and that’s what I’m going to look at in today’s blog post. Are foreign English speakers capable of switching over to English easily or it poses some challenges? Should you aim for long periods of time when you speak and think only in English to facilitate English fluency? And if it’s beneficial to your spoken English improvement – is it a good idea trying to talk your friend into speaking English with you? All these and more questions are going to be discussed in today’s blog post so keep reading it if you’ve ever been wondering why is it that the longer you speak in English, the easier it becomes and why it’s more difficult to communicate in English in unfamiliar settings! (more…)
Shortcut to Complete English Fluency – Learn How to Produce Instant English Speech
What’s The Worst That Could Happen If You Make a Mistake When Speaking in English
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lH_E5ZE9mTE Hi my fellow foreigners – tonight is the Halloween night and I think it would be only fair if I gave you a fright! I’m going to use the biggest fear of all foreign English speakers, and I’ll do my best to scare the hell out of you! So what is this fear I’m so certain will have such an effect on you? Well… We all fear making mistakes when speaking English, don’t we? We fear it so much that we become very conscious of our speech thus making even more stupid mistakes. It’s a self-perpetuating mental state and personally I’ve gone through these issues countless times in the past and I know how depressing, annoying and scary it is. Are you ready? So here it goes – a list of 20 things that might possibly happen if you make a mistake when speaking English! You’d better brace yourself because as you’ll see it’s safer not to open your mouth at all than trying to say something in English and face the dire consequences… (more…)
How to Sell Your English Skills and Put On a Show Every Time You Speak
Shocking: Native English Speakers Don’t Always Spot Your Mistakes!
3 Grammar Mistakes Which Are OK in Spoken English
Any foreign English speaker should be familiar with proper English grammar – there’s no doubt about that (although I have met some foreigners whose grammar was terrible yet they spoke fluent English …) There are occasions, however, when being intentionally wrong is just fine, and just like everything else I discuss on my blog it pertains to spoken English for the most part. Also bear in mind that while you can afford using language illustrated in this article, I’m not encouraging you to adopt these mistakes as normal part of your speech to an extent that you nearly forget what the correct way of saying this or that particular thing is. But then again – it all depends on your personal circumstances. If you use English exclusively as means of verbal communication at work, for instance, and in other informal settings, and you don’t have to write or be involved where formal language is used – I don’t think your English should be judged by how grammatically correctly you speak. Yes, I don’t think you should aim for grammatical perfection because I’m a firm believer in being practical and using the English language the way you need it. You don’t have to subject your spoken English to the whims of academically minded perfectionists! One way or another, I think you should read this blog post to see which English grammar mistakes have seeped so deep into the spoken language that they can hardly be considered mistakes at all. At least when someone points them out to you, you’ll be able to respond with confidence – “Common, it’s OK to say that, it’s not a big deal!” (more…)
Do You Really Suck At Speaking English?
I’ve received countless e-mails saying basically the same thing – “Robby, I’m a useless English speaker, when I try to speak with other English speakers – especially native ones – I get very nervous. I’m struggling to say the right words and I hesitate a lot when speaking…” Well… Maybe you’re right… to a point. You’re useless as far as you believe you are, and the more you convince yourself of it, the deeper the conviction gets ingrained into your mind. It’s the so called self-fulfilling prophecy when something happens just because you believe it will happen :!: Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting you should turn a blind eye to the problem and just ignore it. While ignorance may be bliss on some occasions – such as ignoring strangers’ opinion of your level of English simply because they can’t possibly know how well you speak just because you’ve made a mistake when speaking with them – you still have to deal with your emotional and mental issues preventing you from fully enjoying English conversations. So what I’m saying is – even though the issue is there, you have to change the way you view it. You have to analyze the nature of the issue, make conclusions and see if you really are as useless as you think. Subsequently, you should come to realize that the issue isn’t as bad as you believe it is, and that conclusion in turn should make you into a more confident English speaker. Essentially it’s the same self-fulfilling prophecy – only now you have to get it to work to your favor! Now, are you ready to turn your assumption that you suck at speaking English on its head? (more…)
Using Past Participles As Adjectives vs Passive Voice
3 Things ANY Foreigner Can Implement To Boost Their English Communication Skills!
1. Stop agreeing if you didn’t fully understand what was said to you! On way too many occasions foreign English speakers will just pretend having understood the other person and nod in agreement – but it may potentially damage the whole conversation and result in an even bigger embarrassment than if you just asked your conversation partner to say it again! There are many other English phrases you can use in such situations other than the overused phrase “Sorry, I don’t understand”; if you only ever respond to something you don’t fully get using that phrase, you may indeed make an impression that you’re not being able to speak English properly. Partially it’s because natives rarely say “I don’t understand” when they haven’t heard what’s being said, and partially it’s due to the fact that when a foreign English speaker says “I don’t understand”, most native English speakers will assume that that person’s English isn’t good enough. I know it’s just not the case on most occasions because we foreigners, just like native English speakers, might not get the message that has been communicated to us simply because we didn’t hear it properly (background noise, distinct accent of the speaker, very fast speech etc.) and it’s got nothing to do with our English listening skills. (more…)
Useful Tips on Improving Your English Using Google
2 Dictionary Websites You’ll Ever Need To Improve Your English
I’ve been using the Internet to improve my English for a good number of years, especially when it comes to finding out meaning of new words and figuring out how to use them in context, what other words they collocate with, and what idioms there are containing those words. Sure, you can use Google and other search engines successfully to find relevant information; however, there are two websites that just can’t be beaten in terms of the sheer amount of information they provide when it comes to English vocabulary. Also, they are brilliant when explaining how that vocabulary is used in context, and you have to bear in mind that it is crucial for all foreign English speakers. Learning new English vocabulary out of context – just memorizing separate words – is going to do you little good simply because you won’t know that particular word is used by native English speakers. There’s so much more to speaking fluent English than just sticking separate words together, and these two websites will provide you with countless examples on how new words and expressions are used in the English language. Last but not least, those websites will explain you meaning of new English words through English language using dozens upon dozens of synonyms, and this is also of the utmost importance for us, dear fellow foreign English speakers! Why? It’s quite simple – you should build your English vocabulary ONLY through the English language to prevent you from translating from your native language in your mind which can have a terrible effect on your ability to produce fluent and coherent speech! Well, I guess I’ve piqued your interest with describing how good those websites are, so now let’s look at them so that you can start using them in your English improving routine! (more…)
Get the FREE eBook “How To Stop Struggling With English Writing”!
As you can imagine, I spend quite some time writing blog posts for my website and over the years I’ve become pretty good at it. Well, it’s not that I’m bragging about my writing skills, but the facts are speaking for themselves – I can write a 1600 word article in about two hours. Sure, I would have spent some time planning what to write about and editing and publishing it on my blog would also take some time. Still the writing speed is the most notable improvement I’ve achieved when it comes to my English writing skills – compared to how I was writing 4 – 5 years ago – and I believe I could refer to it as “fluent English writing”. What does it mean in real terms? Well, I think I wouldn’t be exaggerating by claiming I can write as fluently as I can speak; I can just start typing and keep at it until everything I’ve wanted to express has been typed into the word processing software. And this is where we can start looking at the reason why so many foreign English speakers find it difficult to compose a coherent piece of writing. While writing an e-mail to an English speaking friend or a customer at work mightn’t be the biggest problem, bigger tasks such as writing formal letters, essays and short stories may present massive difficulties. You may find yourself sitting in front of a monitor for half an hour having written just one or two sentences, and for some strange reason you just can’t overcome the so called ‘writer’s block’. Is this you? Did you recognize your frustrating behavioral patterns in terms of struggling with English writing after reading the above paragraphs? If so – I’ve something really valuable in store for you! (more…)
How to Give Weight to Your Opinion? Use Smart English Phrases!
I’ve blogged extensively about the importance of being able to conduct English small-talk and get involved in simple, everyday chats with other English speakers as opposed to trying to sound smart using sophisticated expressions because there’s always a chance you’ll get tongue-tied. Also I’ve stressed how important it is not to lose your head when you can’t remember a certain word or a phrase in English but paraphrase instead. Let’s say for instance, you’re having a chat with your friend and you’re trying to explain that you weren’t aware of a particular fact, but then it slowly became obvious to you. The phrase you’re trying to remember is “it dawned on me” – which means that you started to realize the truth. But if you can’t remember the exact word ‘dawned’, there are still dozens of ways to convey the same message – “I suddenly realized”, “and then I got it”, “I started to understand” etc. While it’s important not to get too hung up on using the exact same phrase you can’t remember – or else you risk constantly getting stuck in the middle of conversations! – it’s also important not to ignore specific English phrases or so called idiomatic expressions that might just help you make your point more effectively and also would help you sound more like a native English speaker. Just imagine that you’re watching news and they’re showing the latest developments in the world which unfortunately way too often involve natural and man-made disasters, atrocious crimes and other bad news that normally make the headlines. You’re watching the news with a couple of your friends, and halfway through the news your own worries and problems that were so pressing a mere ten minutes ago, all of a sudden seem to have become ridiculously unimportant. Compared to what people are going through in North Africa and Middle East at the moment, your life is actually a walk in the park! Now, you can express your feelings to your other family members in a couple of sentences just like I did in the paragraph above, OR… you can use a single phrase – “Yes, it really puts things in perspective, doesn’t it?” That’s the beauty of such and similar English phrases – they allow you to express your feelings in a single phrase! Moreover – they can be used in many different situations so a handful of smart English phrases can indeed help you explain yourself like a native English speaker! But now I’m going to give you some more examples of smart English phrases so that you can clearly see the importance of learning them. (more…)
Embedded Questions – When Reversing Word Order Isn’t Necessary
How to Decide What New English Words to Learn?
I think that once past the learning stage and having large enough vocabulary to allow for free expression in nearly every situation, all foreign English speakers can call themselves fluent. Yet the process of improving one’s spoken English is lifelong, and it inevitably involves learning new English words and phrases on a regular basis. Bulk of that new vocabulary is picked up naturally during conversations with other English speakers, and to tell you the truth – anyone who spends a lot of time among English speakers will grow their vocabularies even if they don’t put much conscious effort into the process. If you’re eager to improve your English at a much faster rate, however, I bet you’re making sure to learn an extra number of new English words every now and then, don’t you? Well, if that’s the case, I’ll also hazard a guess that sometimes you’ve been wandering on what grounds you should choose new English vocabulary words to learn. Should you learn all new English words that come along regardless of how obscure they may be? Should you learn English word lists using online services such as Word Dynamo, for example? Or should you write down every new word you come across when reading English fiction and make sure you memorize them? If you often ask yourself such and similar questions, the rest of this blog post is definitely going to shed some light on the issue! (more…)
3 Ways of Hard-wiring Unnatural English Collocations into Your Brain
4 Reasons Why Any Foreign English Speaker Should Read English Fiction
My blog and also the whole English Harmony project are all about spoken English fluency and how to overcome related confidence issues. Reading English fiction most of the time, as I’ve pointed out numerous times throughout my blog posts, won’t help you improve your spoken English fluency and you still need to spend a considerable amount of time speaking English with other people in order to do that. Nonetheless, reading English fiction will definitely help you as a foreign English speaker. After all - who else can judge the usefulness of this pastime other than me - Robby, who reads whenever there’s free time available? At launch breaks at work, in bed before sleep, while waiting on appointments … sitting at an open window on a sunny Sunday morning and drinking coffee – all those and many more occasions are perfect for forgetting yourself while being immersed in events depicted by some English writer. (more…)
5 Ways of Learning Natural English Collocations and Creating Useful Vocabulary Associations
Information Overload: How To Stop Thinking TOO MUCH When Speaking English!
Is Google Any Good For Improving Your Spoken English?
Yes, it is! But in this blog post I'm not going to discuss the cool Google speech recognition functionality or some similar tool (I'm probably going to look at it in one of my future blog posts though). By saying that you can use Online Search Engines to improve your spoken English I'm referring to Google, Yahoo and other Online Search Engine search suggestions - simple as that :!: Performing search on certain words and search terms allows you to find out plenty of useful information about naturally occurring English word combinations, and if you’ve been reading my blog for a while you’ll know that I’m always emphasizing the importance of memorizing words that go together in natural spoken English - collocations, idioms, phrasal verbs. Why? Simply because it allows you to speak fluently; as you say the first word, the next ones are triggered automatically because your brain and mouth have been trained to pronounce certain words together :!: So if you’re interested in intricacies of Google, Yahoo or Bing search suggestions that allow you to learn patterns of real life English – keep reading this article and you’ll probably be in for a nice surprise on how instrumental Search Engines can be to a foreign English speaker! (more…)
The Single Biggest Culprit Causing Foreigners’ Speech Anxiety
I’ve published loads of articles in the past dealing with English speakers’ confidence issues, but I’m resolute to drive it home this time. I was browsing the Web last night and started reading different language learning articles and related comments, and after reading a particularly heated clash of opinions I suddenly realized WHY so many foreign English speakers and indeed – learners and improvers of ANY LANGUAGE - are intimidated and may potentially develop a phobia of speaking their target language. Not that I didn’t know it prior to that, it’s just that for some reason it became so clear to me last night... So here you go – it’s the academically minded foreign language speakers (and sometimes also native speakers) who feel superior to ANYONE who can’t speak at their level that make others feel that they’re useless as foreign language speakers :!: :mad: (more…)
Unnatural Collocations and Wrong Mental Associations
Moving to an English Speaking Country is Like Recovering Eyesight
Recently I watched a TV program about blind people recovering eyesight. What struck me most in the program was the fact that even if you restore a damaged optic nerve to its full capacity, the blind person isn’t necessarily going to function properly in terms of seeing the world around. IMPORTANT! -> Why I’m highlighting parts of text in RED? It appears that in order to see not only we need our eyes; our brain plays a crucial role in the process, too. And what was most shocking – if a person has been blind since birth or very early childhood, he or she may never learn how to “see” the word properly even if technically it would be possible. Human brain is simply unable to process graphical images from the outside world (read - any audiovisual information) and convert them into an adequate reflection into one’s mind IF it hasn’t been trained to do so :!: The man from the TV program had undergone surgery to recover eyesight, but getting around the town was still a tricky task. He learnt to recognize certain shapes and forms, but can you imagine what it feels like when you look down at a shadow on the sidewalk but you haven’t got a clue whether it’s a shadow cast by some object or a foot deep drop where the sidewalk ends? Your brain has been trained to recognize things from an early age and has seen millions of different shades throughout your lifetime. The man with recovered eyesight has to learn everything from scratch which makes it very, very difficult. What’s it got to do with spoken English, you’ll ask? Simple enough – if you’ve spent the biggest part of your live studying English the traditional way and then you move to an English speaking country, you’re in pretty much the same position as the man with the recovered eyesight walking around his residential estate. (more…)
Mad Stuff – Speaking With Hard Foreign Accent to Facilitate English Fluency
Why Thursdays are My BEST English Fluency Days
We all get our good and bad days. There are some days when everything seems to be acting against us, but then on other days we’re flying and we get all tasks done easily. And you know what? It’s pretty normal! Same goes with English fluency. There are days when we can speak English with such ease it seems we were born English speakers. Sometimes it’s quite the opposite – we have to make effort to verbalize our thoughts and we also tend to make more mistakes when speaking than normally. And you know what? It’s normal, too! But today’s story isn’t about the fluctuating English fluency. Today I wanted to share with you something I noticed recently at work, and to be honest with you, it didn’t just happen overnight, it’s just that all the pieces came together just now. So to cut a long story short, I noticed that I’m best at speaking English with my work colleagues on Thursdays. If you’ve known me for a while, you’ll know that I feel comfortable enough when speaking English on any day of the week, yet for some odd reason my English fluency trend would peak on Thursdays in particular. On Thursdays I’d speak absolutely effortlessly with everyone working in the office, with manufacturing department managers and of course, those working with me in the dispatch. OK, but why Thursdays? What Thursdays have got to do with one’s English fluency levels? (more…)
Top 15 Invaluable Pieces of Advice for Foreigners Settling Down in an English Speaking Country
Learn English Irregular Verbs Through Collocations, Idioms and Phrasal Verbs
4 Things Your English Teacher Didn’t Tell YOU!
1. First we should learn SPOKEN English and only then – to read and write Another controversy on EnglishHarmony.com? Well, so be it! I believe that if all foreign English speakers would have learnt spoken English first, nobody would have any English fluency issues. Once your brain is hard-wired with naturally occurring English speech patterns, you can learn to read and write and it won’t mess up your ability to produce coherent speech. Many of us, foreign English speakers though, have difficulties speaking fluently because we speak as if we were writing – in a slow, controlled way, with a chance to go back and correct mistakes and all the time in the world to think things through. Add a bit of stress, and there you go – you can get stuck in a middle of a sentence because real life communication is not your comfortable environment you’re so familiar with; chatting with people happens spontaneously. Remember – speaking comes first, and everything else comes after that, just like in your native language! You spoke long before you learnt to read and write, and you’re so good at speaking your language not because you spent 12 years at school. It’s because you used your language as means of communication long before your first day at school, so why should English be any different? (more…)