It Doesn’t Matter Who You Speak With – It’s All in Your HEAD!
Sometimes I don’t feel confident when speaking with native English speakers – I have an uneasy feeling that they’d judge my English skills and make the wrong assumptions. Sometimes I struggle when speaking with another foreign English speaker. I have difficulties choosing the right words if I’m not sure if he or she will understand me. As a result I may start hesitating and making silly mistakes and the other person may sound even more fluent than me! When I speak with a foreigner with a similar English fluency level, I may try to prove I’m a better English speaker. Eventually I also risk losing the natural flow of the language because of the excitement such a challenge inevitably entails. As you can see – you can’t win here, no matter who I speak with there’s a chance my English fluency is going to deteriorate… So the question is – how to deal with this? :mad: The answer, as often is the case, lies in the head ;-) (more…)
Focus on What You CAN Say in English Instead of What You CAN’T!
You’ve Gotta Be Ignorant to Be a Fluent English Speaker!
Why is It Difficult to Speak with Certain People in English?
Your English isn’t the same at all times. It changes. At times you may notice you can speak very fluently, with ease. Yet sometimes you may start struggling with speaking in English with someone for no apparent reason! You have to bear in mind that ups and downs are natural in any human related performance, and spoken English is no different. Unless, of course, you’re experiencing frequent occasions when your mind goes blank and you’re unable to speak in English at all – then we can start speaking about the typical English fluency issue which haunts so many foreign English speakers. Anyway, fluctuating English fluency is normal, and there are many factors playing an important role in your English fluency – your stress levels at the time of speaking, your overall mental performance, familiarity with the topic you’re discussing and also frequency of your spoken English practice. The more often you speak English, the better you should be able to perform – it’s actually common sense, isn’t it? Yet one of the most influential factors holding sway over your spoken English performance is PEOPLE you speak with :!: Haven’t you noticed that it’s very easy to communicate in English with certain people while others make you nervous and your start mispronouncing even the simplest words? I bet you can remember situations when you’ve discussed quite complicated matters in English and it didn’t present any difficulties to you at all; yet on other occasions you’ve felt uncomfortable speaking about simple, everyday topics! As I said – much of it depends on who you speak with, so let’s delve deeper into the issue so that I can finish off this article with a few pieces of useful advice on how to manage your English conversations regardless of who is your chat partner! (more…)
Funny English Phrases #2 – Visiting a Doctor
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HolR6fMke3U Hi my fellow foreign English speakers! Here’s another video of my Funny English Phrases series – judging by the positive feedback I was getting after publishing the first video about shopping you seem to like these type of funny situation videos! This video has a few useful health related phrases and phrasal verbs in it, so watch it to make sure you know the meaning of those expressions! Or else you risk getting in embarrassing situations just like the character portrayed by me in the video! And one more thing – make sure you repeat those sentences out loud. It’s crucial to imprint English speech patterns into your mouth and vocal cords and there’s no way around it. You have to speak to improve your spoken English, my friend! Take care, Robby ;-)
Lost in Translation OR Why I Couldn’t Translate Gulliver’s Travels
English Improvement Trend & Inevitable Fluency Fluctuations – Why Is It Happening to Me?
Because it happens to every foreign English speaker, my friend, that’s why! Do you think you’re unique in that your English fluency fluctuates? Common, you’re not the center of the world; there are millions of others who experience ups and downs of the ability to speak English fluently and effortlessly. The only difference between you and others might be that you’re being very conscious of your English fluency problems, whereas others would paraphrase, use small talk phrases and simply not get embarrassed if they get stuck in the middle of a sentence. But if you think that you’re not capable of mastering the aforementioned techniques and you’re doomed for a lifetime of constant struggle with spoken English…you have to understand that any process where a person’s learning and performance is involved is subject to fluctuations. Yes, ANY process involving human beings! We’re not machines and we can’t guarantee perfect performance at all times, and speaking is no different. Why, have you not noticed that you can’t even speak your own language every day at an identical performance level? Haven’t you noticed you have days when you just can’t seem to gather your thoughts and express yourself properly even when speaking with your native speaking friends? I definitely have, but it’s not because I would spend so much time speaking English that I’ve started forgetting my own lingo! It’s because of the simple reason I stated above – any human performance is going to have ups and downs. Even now, years after dealing with the English fluency issue, I do experience days when I’m a bit slow to respond. I do have moments of hesitation and inability to put my thoughts into the exact words I would want in English. Hey, the other day I even confused two words – “to reward” and “to award”! So instead of “contracts are being awarded to…” I said “contracts are being rewarded to…” A silly mistake, but then – who doesn’t make mistakes? As far as your overall English fluency is fit for the purpose – be it doing your job, studying, or socializing – you should not be overly concerned about your odd days when you feel a bit slower to respond. In other words, unless your English fluency is heavily affected and you don’t experience total blackouts when speaking (read a full list of English speech anxiety symptoms here), you’re fine. Anyway, let’s get to the matter of today’s article which is about the English improvement trend. So, what is it all about? (more…)
Importance of Letting It Go!
English Harmony System’s Review
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=/WLlsp4H-zMc I want you to meet someone, my fellow foreign English speakers! Her name is Diana and she runs a great English learning website Helping You Learn English. Diana is an English teaching professional, and I guess that if she’s saying that my English Harmony System might just be the one thing you need to improve your English fluency, there is something to it, right? Anyway, let’s cut the rant, just watch the video above to see what Diana is saying in her review of the English Harmony System 2.0!
Taking a Break from Speaking English May Have a Positive Effect on Your Fluency!
Improve Your Spoken English by Using Spaced Repetition
Don’t Be Conscious Of Your Own English Conversations!
Probably the most important piece of advice for foreign English speakers who wish to improve their English fluency is to shift their focus from technical details of their speech to the actual conversation and the person they’re speaking with. You know, we foreigners often tend to over-analyze when we speak English and it can lead to making all sorts of stupid mistakes. Being a perfectionist isn't going to make you into a fluent English speaker, so I’d say it’s very, very important to learn how to let it go and speak without being conscious of the way you speak, the way you pronounce words, and finally – the actual words you choose when speaking! It’s even possible to speak fluent English with a limited active vocabulary, and as far as you don’t think about what you can’t say but just say what you can, you’ll be more conversationally fluent than some other person who might possess more formal knowledge yet they’re too conscious to put it to good use! In other words, it’s all about being fully involved when speaking with someone instead of adopting an observer’s role and scrutinizing your own speech :!: Well, I know, I know that it’s easier said than done, but you just have to keep trying. Every time you’re having a conversation with someone in English, you have to force yourself to forget about formal English knowledge and grammar rules, and just speak. (more…)
Funny English Phrases #1 – Buying a Pair of Jeans
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ELDaqPlEW8 Hi my friends foreign English speakers! You must have noticed I’m not posting here on my blog as often as I used to, but you can rest assured that I’m not neglecting this project! I’m simply too busy editing new English Harmony lessons and working with my partner Will who creates all content for the lessons. So, while I’m working on the major English Harmony System’s update, I decided to post weekly short videos stuffed with useful everyday English phrases you can use in different situations – when shopping, visiting your doctor or even facing an interviewer in a job interview. Today’s video is dedicated to shopping. Watch it, and who knows - maybe some of those phrases will come handy the next time you’re out shopping for new clothes! Robby ;-)
The Best English Class for Improving Your English Fluency
The English Language is Multidimensional Indeed!
Today I’d like to talk about diversity of the English language. Here at English Harmony I’m focusing on spoken English which tends to be more informal as opposed to formal English as it’s taught in schools. The other day I was reading a blog post by Aaron from Phrasemix.com about differences between formal and casual English and he’s put up a very interesting chart on his blog post about how people from different backgrounds speak. According to Aaron’s chart, ordinary people you’d meet on the street in your local estate would speak mostly conversational English, but advanced English students, strangely enough, would be quite on the opposite side of the chart having mastered conversational skills of a native English speaking toddler yet their formal English knowledge would be nearly as high as that of a business executive :!: Well, I have to say that I agree with Aaron 100%, and this is the first time I’m seeing formal and conversational English skills of people from different backgrounds compared in such an interesting way! (more…)
Retelling Stories Is a Perfect Way of Improving Your Spoken English!
How Robby Improves His Spoken English
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=/rF8ZZt20Me8 I've been going on about improving spoken English for years and given you countless advice on how to become a better English speaker. If you're a bit tired of it all, watch this video where I'm telling about my own spoken English improving routine and what I do on a daily basis to maintain a high level of English fluency. In this video you'll find out the following things: why I still keep practicing spoken English with myself despite having a full time job in an English speaking environment; why I threw away all my English - Latvian pocket dictionaries and now I'm having a pocket phrase book; how playing a guitar helps me have real English conversations with friends and work colleagues; why I read fantasy fiction in English during my breaks at work! If you've any questions to ask in relation to this video or if you want to share your own English improving experiences - use the comments box below! Robby P.S. Are you ready to get on the fast track to spoken English fluency? Check out my English Harmony System HERE!
Speaking in Short Sentences? It’s Normal!
Are you often frustrated by the fact that despite being quite a well-spoken foreign English speaker you can’t always speak in full sentences? Are you even getting stuck in a middle of conversation because you WANT to finish a sentence but for some reason you just CAN’T? Let me tell you – you’re not alone. It’s quite normal! By the way – hadn’t you noticed that even native English speakers sometimes hesitate when they speak? When we write, we have all the time in the world to think over the word placement in a sentence. We can scribble out what we wrote and re-write it so that it sounds much better. As we write, we can formulate our thoughts precisely as we intend because we can take extra time to pick the most fitting words. And most importantly, we can compose nice, complete sentences to create an easy-to-understand message! When we speak, it’s a bit different story. Unless you’re a very eloquent foreign English speaker, your speech will be quite different from a written piece of text. Well, I've always held the opinion that the best way to write is to actually speak about the subject aloud and put it all down on paper. Still, when we speak, quite often our mind drifts away and we can’t articulate our thoughts exactly as we want. Especially – when we have to talk about something we’re not really familiar with! If it’s becoming a real issue, it has to be dealt with. But no matter what situation you find yourself in, it always helps to be aware of the fact that in real life English communication people often speak in short, often unfinished and broken sentences :!: (more…)
Beginners, Intermediate and Advanced English Grammar? Nonsense!
Much of that stress you experience when learning and improving your English could be alleviated if there were no different English grammar complexity levels, isn’t that right? Just think about it. The moment a foreigner decides to learn or improve English, his success hugely depends on his attitude towards the process. Depending on the perceived difficulty he can either achieve that long-desired English fluency or become completely unmotivated to improve if the end goal of being a fluent English speaker seems like an epic task. I believe that ANY process – be it English learning, or learning high level chemistry isn’t difficult as far as you fully understand what’s being discussed in the particular lesson or book’s chapter OR you can replicate the results without focusing too much on the details :!: Even rocket science is easy once you know what you’re doing! ;-) I believe the same goes with English grammar. Well, first of all, I don’t think English students should focus on grammar as much as the industry requires them to do in the first place. Grammar is nothing more than bunch or rules determining how words are arranged in a sentence and you can learn it all just by speaking mimicking native English speakers because spoken English already has all NATURAL grammar in it! But if you do incorporate certain amount of English grammar studies in your English improving routine, you may become overwhelmed by its complexity. All the grammar terms ranging from very easy ones such as a verb and a noun and ending with advanced high-end grammar stuff like conditional sentences and compound sentences will make you feel that there’s so much to acquire and that you need to spend long, long years learning all that stuff. And you’re right. If you want to become an English teacher and know all ABOUT English grammar, it will be a lengthy task indeed. If, on the other hand, you want to become a fluent English speaker, your perception suddenly changes. You don’t need to divide English grammar into beginners, intermediate and advanced because it will only inhibit your progress. Do you want to see a proof that there’s no easy and difficult English grammar? All right, no problems! (more…)
Spoken English Topics and Technical Aspects of Spoken English Exercising
Does Integration of Foreigners into English Speaking Society Work?
Have you ever heard a statement that people are inherently lazy? Personally I believe it to be true, more or less. I believe that humans will put the minimum amount of effort into achieving their desired goal in any aspect of life. There are always exceptions to the rule, of course. By and large though, human beings will do everything to avoid engaging in activities that they don’t find entertaining or which don’t result in a direct, tangible benefit. Are you outraged by my claims? Don’t be! I meant no offence to anyone, I merely stated the obvious. They even argue that human laziness is the driving force behind the development of technology! We just got tired of walking and running around, so one day we thought – hold on, why not use some animals to carry us around? In no time we were riding horses, then driving cars – and all that because we’re too lazy to walk! All, right, but what has it got to do with integration of foreign English speakers? Well, if you consider that integration in local English speaking society goes hand in hand with good English communication skills; it’s got everything to do with it! To put it simply – if foreigners aren’t REQUIRED to learn and improve English for PRACTICAL reasons, they won’t do it :!: There you go. I said it! If you want to stone me, you’re free to do it in the comments below. If you’re prepared for an even bigger dose of truth spoken by a Latvian expat living in Ireland – keep reading! (more…)
Mimicking – The Best Way to Learn English Collocations!
No-one to Talk to? Practice English With Yourself!
Find out how to improve your spoken English is 30 days or less :!: Today’s video topic is about the importance of practicing English speaking on a regular basis. In other words, if you want to be a fluent English speaker, you have to speak, there are no magic shortcuts :!: There are, of course, shortcuts in terms of efficiency of the learning process, and you’re welcome to check out my blog to found out more, but in this video lesson let’s focus on the importance of speaking English every day. By the way, did you know that the most viewed video on my YouTube channel so far is the one where I’m talking about the importance of speaking English with yourself in case you’ve got no-one else to talk to? I guess it’s a good indicator of a typical situation that foreign English speakers find themselves in. You know – even if you live in an English speaking country, there might not be enough face-to-face communication with other English speakers. On many occasions foreigners living under such circumstances won’t go the extra mile to practice some English because it’s not a necessity and they can do without it. If you’re willing to improve your spoken English, however, you can do so much more to step up your English fluency and having regular conversations with yourself is definitely better that no spoken practice at all! (more…)
Read This if You’re Dreading Making Phone Calls in English!
Can Present Continuous Substitute Present Simple Tense?
Unleash Your English Fluency with the English Harmony System 2.0!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=/b6hVnUtL7DU Are you ready to get on the fast track to spoken English fluency? Check out my English Harmony System HERE!
What Any Foreign English Speaker Can Learn from Benicio Del Toro
One of the biggest traps that foreign English speakers fall for is trying to speak TOO FAST. You know what? Even I still fall for it every once in a while, and every time it happens I literally have to persuade myself by saying – “Robby, calm down, don’t rush, you know it for a fact that it doesn’t matter if it takes you 10 seconds longer to get the message across! Take your time, slow down and you’re going to be much easier to understand!” Yet so many foreigners are under the wrong impression that to speak fluent English you must speak fast. Well, most native English speakers would indeed speak English quite fast – just like any other native language speaker would speak their language. It’s not always the case though. There are situations when EVEN NATIVE SPEAKERS would find it hard to maintain a continuous, fast speech. Stressful environment, high expectations from others, not being familiar with the topic that’s being discussed – all these and a number of other factors may seriously impede any native English speaker’s natural ability to produce fast, continuous and uninterrupted speech. So if even native English speakers can run into such problems, why would foreigners like me and you be any different? I think that our ability to speak English shouldn’t be judged on our nationality grounds. We, just like any native English speaker, are entitled to have moments of confusion, take time to make the point, and it shouldn’t be perceived as an inability to speak fluent English. It should be taken for what it is – slower speech - and it shouldn’t be attributed to our foreign national background! On many occasions a slow and controlled manner of speech doesn’t even indicate any issues the speaker might be having. It’s just the way the particular person speaks, and whether others like it or not, they have to accept it, full stop :!: One of my favorite actors Benicio Del Toro, for example, quite often speaks slowly and takes his time choosing the right words when giving interviews. He doesn’t give a damn about what others might think about it! And mind this – he’s a Hollywood celebrity and speaks fluent English. Well, originally he’s from Puerto Rico and speaks Spanish, but he’s spent most of his life in the States and his English is absolutely fluent. So here’s what you can learn from Benicio: It’s OK to pause in a mid-sentence; It’s OK to repeat a word a number of times to buy time; It’s OK to speak very slowly! (more…)
Accept Your English Fluency Limitations!
Do You Really NEED to Improve Your Spoken English?
It may sound like a completely mad question on an English improving blog. Especially taking into account I’m a passionate proponent of English speaking practice as the main activity for improving anyone’s English. What you probably don’t know about me is that I’m also a vehement proponent of practicality in all aspects of life with English being not an exception. I strongly believe that you are what you do and regarding English improving it translates into your English is what you do :!: To put it simply, you have to look at it from the following perspective. It’s your daily activities that determine which aspects of English you’re relying upon most. If you live in a foreign country and use English mostly for surfing the Net and watching English TV channels, that is what you actually need your English for. Also if you don’t get many opportunities to communicate with other English speakers, you won’t be needing spoken English skills as badly as someone who has moved to an English speaking country or works, for instance, as a cell centre operator supporting English speaking customers. To dispel any confusion that might arise from what I just said clashing with my usual “English is a tool for communication first and foremost!”, please note that my blog and the whole English Harmony project is dedicated to those foreign English speakers who need to speak English regularly, but struggle with it. The point I’m trying to make in this blog post is the following – if you don’t need to communicate using English because of specific circumstances, probably you shouldn’t be overly concerned about improving your spoken English (unless you need it in the foreseeable future, of course!) (more…)
My Controversial Views On Correct English & British and American English
Don’t Compare Your English With Others!
Today’s blog post’s topic is about the importance of not comparing your English with others. And I don’t mean it in a way that you’d have to ignore English spoken by people around you. It’s quite the opposite - I want you to perceive this piece of advice as an encouragement not to feel inferior to other English speakers :!: The sense of inadequacy and worthlessness as an English speaker can sometimes overwhelm you and it can have a detrimental effect on your English fluency. The goal of my English Harmony project is to help foreigners deal with occasional drops in spoken English fluency which are quite common in those who’ve followed the traditional path of English learning by focusing on writing and studying English grammar. So not only you have to deal with the actual speech issue itself; you also have to be mentally tough and resilient to maintain the ability to communicate with others when going through the bad English fluency phrase while hearing others perform much better than you :!: Here’s a typical scenario – and if you have the English fluency issue you definitely would have had similar moments. You arrive at work, and say hello to your co-workers, but for some reason your English isn’t as good as normally so you feel that you’re struggling a bit to say the simplest things - like morning greetings. Anyway, you’re already under mental pressure to keep your speech steady and slow – otherwise you risk running into even bigger issues like getting completely stuck in a middle of conversation and getting a total blackout in your mind. And then suddenly you hear some other foreign English speakers having a chat and they just speak away fluently and effortlessly. Or it could even be you involved in a chat with, for instance, your native speaking colleague and another foreign person. The other foreigner speaks freely, but you constantly catch yourself struggling with picking the right word, or expressing your thoughts clearly. So tell me, what would be the most natural reaction on this? Of course, anyone who’s in the situation I just described would start comparing their performance with the other foreign person’s performance :!: It’s a totally natural competitiveness and in normal circumstances facilitates one’s desire to compete, to become better at it. (more…)
How To Make Your English Sound Right? Use Collocations!
Get the FREE eBook “Power of English Phrasal Verbs”
WILL and GOING TO English Future Forms: How to Use Them in Conversations
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Q3pSzWrcek Welcome back to another Practical English Grammar lesson where we talk about Future in spoken English and how to sound fluent and natural when talking about future events! In the previous video we looked at how to use Present Progressive Tense – also called Present Continuous – for describing future events. The most important bit of information from that lesson is to perceive Present Progressive as the basic grammar tense for describing future. You know – in 9 times out of 10 foreign English speakers use the traditional WILL + verb in infinitive Future Tense when speaking about future events, but it transpires that this grammar form is being massively overused :shock: Many future events we talk about on a daily basis have been arranged prior to the conversation, so we can confidently use Present Progressive instead. For instance, you have to say “Sorry, I’m watching a very interesting TV program tonight” instead of “I will watch a very interesting TV program tonight” if you have a conversation with your friend and he asks you if you can go out with him tonight. By now you’re probably getting slightly confused over my ramblings on future in spoken English. Judging by the previous video, one might think that WILL + verb and GOING TO future forms are redundant and there’s no need to use them. Especially if you take into account that I said that you’d be better off overusing Present Progressive rather than the WILL Future Tense – to many it may sound as if I’m saying that you can speak English and use Present Progressive ONLY when it comes to talking about future events.Â Well, it’s not so. Other Future forms are also necessary; you just need to know WHEN to use them :!: So today let’s look at the traditional English Future Tense – WILL + verb in infinitive and also the GOING TO Future form and how to use them in conversational English. (more…)