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!
How To Make Your English Sound Right? Use Collocations!
If you ask an average English speaker what a collocation is, they’ll probably shrug their shoulders and will ask you to provide an explanation. Well, I’ve no problems doing it for you! Collocations are words that normally go together in written and spoken English. They make your English sound more fluent and native-like, and it’s when you get a collocation wrong when people would say – “Well, it doesn’t sound right, they don’t say it like that in English…” The tricky part is that there are no English Grammar rules stipulating how and when certain words go together, you simply have to develop “the feel” of how words are naturally used. Basically you have to learn English collocations and incorporate them into your spoken and written English. For instance, when you go back to work after a few days illness, you’d tell your work colleagues that you’re “fully recovered”. If you use any other word with “recovered” – “completely recovered”, “absolutely recovered” or “totally recovered” – it doesn’t sound as good as the natural collocation “fully recovered”. The two words – “fully” and “recovered” are the ones that naturally go together in English language, so we can say that those words collocate with each other. Collocations are somewhat similar to English idioms. Just like idioms they’re word combinations that are used by native English speakers and you just have to learn those phrases to be able to use them; you can’t just translate the same meaning from your native language and stick relevant English words together :!: However, it won’t make you a better English speaker if you only KNOW what a collocation is. Knowing alone doesn’t make you fluent, and that’s obvious to me now after my years long pursuit of English fluency! So let’s cut the rant, and let’s get straight down to the business! ;-) (more…)
Get the FREE eBook “Power of English Phrasal Verbs”
If you’ve just moved to an English speaking country, you may find yourself in a situation when everyday English spoken around you is much different from the one you studied at school or university. And even if you’ve spent considerable time in the country, much of what native English speakers say might be lost on you so you blame your lack of English fluency. By the way, haven’t you heard some foreigners say things like: “You know, these Americans (British, Irish – depending on which English speaking country you reside in) don’t speak correct English themselves, that’s why it’s so hard for us to communicate with them!” Well… In fact what some might call “incorrect speech” boils down to a few main factors which aren’t incorrect or wrong by their nature. Native English speakers simply use a whole lot more informal and colloquial means of expression than academically tutored foreigners! Yes, informal speech sometimes doesn’t meet the very high literacy standards – but then I think we can actually argue who set them and why. Learning super-accurate and perfect English without means of expression like phrasal verbs, idioms and colloquialisms will make it much harder for you to communicate, and here’s a perfect example to illustrate exactly what I mean. (more…)
WILL and GOING TO English Future Forms: How to Use Them in Conversations
Forget About WILL Future Tense – Use Present Progressive Instead!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CjB9AvqISbI Hello my friends, and Happy Christmas to everyone! :-) I’m back with another practical English grammar lesson, and today let’s look at how to talk about future in conversational English. Just to remind you what I'm teaching in Practical English Grammar – it’s conversational English and it’s not always 100% correct. Real life English is different from school books and text books, so I’m using my extensive experience as a foreign English speaker living in an English speaking country to help you speak more fluently. All right, so let’s look at how we speak about future events in English. The standard grammatical Future Tense in English is formed by using “WILL” followed by the verb's infinitive form. However, this is far from the full picture of how you can describe future in English. To be more precise, this is just one quarter of possibilities that the English language offers, and here are the other three ways how you can describe a future action: I’m going to come home, I’m coming home, I come home. Are you slightly confused? Are you thinking now – “Why is Robby giving examples of Present Progressive and Simple Present Tenses? They’re clearly used to describe actions taking place right now, in this very moment!” Well, you’re right, they are used for that purpose, but Present Progressive, for instance, can also be used to describe Future actions which have already been arranged and the very fact of the arrangement is kind of going on right now, does that make sense? If you say “I’m coming home tomorrow” you mean indeed that you are going to arrive back home tomorrow, but you have apparently decided at some stage that you’ll come home. So as far as English grammar is concerned, the progressive action is already taking place – since the moment you decided that you would come the action is kind of happening - only taking place tomorrow instead of now. (more…)
Isn’t English “Improving” and “Learning” the Same?!
Don’t Look for a Silver Bullet when Improving Your English!
In these modern times everyone expects FAST and EASY results. Just look around you – celebrities go on crash diets and lose weight FAST (and EASY, too). Bodybuilders pile on massive poundage within a couple of weeks during the bulking phase of their training regimes (with a little help of anabolic steroids, but – hey, does anyone mind as far as the gains are big and FAST?) Enormous, record-breaking and futuristic-shaped buildings are built in Dubai under very tense deadlines – and it also has to be done in a record-short time and FAST. These days they build faster trains, faster planes, faster food processors and faster computer processors. There’s hundreds of thousands of interlinked industries operating on our planet 24/7/365 and – you guessed it right – they operate under strict regulations, tight deadlines, and people have to work damn FAST to make everything happen. Did you truly believe a couple of decades ago that modern technology-driven world will eventually give us more free time and robots will perform all tedious and time-consuming tasks? I’m sorry to ruin your dream, but the harsh reality is that the more you can accomplish, the more free time you have for being even MORE PRODUCTIVE, so eventually you’re forced to learn how to get things done FASTER (and EASIER – as enforced by modern advertising, so the gullible crowd falls for yet another improved washing powder which helps them achieve impeccably white clothes compared to the old, crappy product X). Not surprisingly, the very technology we design and produce helps as along the way, and these days getting fast results in any aspect of life is irrevocably linked to using special equipment, professional advice, special courses, or a piece of software. Want to have a perfect six-pack abs? You definitely have to use one of those thousand abs machines. If you don’t – you’re guaranteed to sustain spinal injuries or at least a sprained neck trying to do the same ol’ abs crunches (never mind Rocky never used one in any of his films…). Want to make some extra money by doing part-time cleaning job? There’s no way can you start doing it unless you have passed a special course teaching you how to use a brush and mop up the floor! Do you see where I’m going with this? These days the world has gone mad by trying to optimize, standardize, streamline and super-size. These basic assumptions – that one has to achieve things FAST and use a set of sophisticated, very technical METHODS – has been deeply ingrained into our society’s collective awareness :!: The very same goes with English improving. (more…)
Having a Bad English Day? So Does Everyone From Time to Time!
How I Stopped Being a Non-native English Speaker…
Wake Up from the English Grammar Matrix!
I have an impression that the majority of foreigners who want to improve their English are obsessed with English grammar. And mind this – I’m not using the word “obsessed” lightly. I’m using the word’s “obsessed” most extreme meaning! Now I'm going to draw a typical profile of someone who wants to improve English – and don’t be offended if you recognize yourself by my description. I’m doing it for your own good, and you’ll find out why I’m doing it in a few paragraphs! So here’s the typical foreign English speaker talking about his/her English fluency issues: “I want to improve my English. My grammar is very bad and I feel embarrassed when I speak English with others. I can understand English very well when I read newspapers and when others talk to me, but when I start speaking I make many grammar mistakes. I know that I should improve my English grammar to start speaking better, and I’m desperate to become more confident. Can you suggest a good English grammar book or software that would help me improve my English grammar?” Whenever I get to read or hear something like this, it makes me angry. No really, putting all jokes aside, it makes me really angry :mad: “Why don’t you understand that English grammar has nothing to do with your spoken English confidence! Arghhhhhh!!!” (more…)
Conquer Your Fear of Making Mistakes when Speaking English!
If you’re a foreign English speaker – there’s a 90% chance you are because you’re reading my blog! – you’re most likely familiar with anxiety of making mistakes when speaking English. You know – it’s the feeling when you’d gladly say something when chatting in English with someone, but you hold it inside because you’re not sure you’ll get it right. In the most extreme cases you might even be avoiding communication only not to experience embarrassment and humiliation! That’s when it gets really serious because no matter how badly you fear making mistakes, you’re not going to improve your spoken English simply because you’re not speaking enough :!: So how to deal with this anxiety and how to overcome your fear of making mistakes? Watch the video above and you’ll find out how to change your mindset when it comes to making mistakes; alternatively you can read this video’s script below! (more…)
Boring English Grammar or Cool Fiction – Make Up Your Mind!
Another 3 Reasons Why Learning English at School Sucks!
Recently I published a blog post called “4 Reasons Why Studying English at School Won’t Make You a Fluent English Speaker” where I discussed drawbacks of the traditional way of studying the English language.Â I’ll give you a quick overview of the previous article but of course if you haven’t read it you’d better check it out – it might prove to be quite an eye-opener for you! So why am I so much against the traditional English teaching methods? :!: First of all, the grammar translation method which is still prevalent even in this day and age, was founded back in the 18th century. Back in the olden days foreign language learning was still in its infancy and academics assumed that it had to follow the same pattern as other disciplines – Math, Physics, and Chemistry. Fast forward to the 21st century… and they still teach English at school with the same grammar translation method that is unnatural and uses students’ native language as reference medium to acquire the target language! :!: Second reason – school English studies focus on STUDYING the language rather than LEARNING English. English students are required to know all about grammar constructs, word types and syntax but real, spoken English is being neglected at the same time. This doesn’t make any sense to me; it’s like learning all about your leg muscle fibers and leg movement kinetics if your main goal is to learn how to dance! :!: The third reason is something even you might find hard to agree with, namely – English grammar difficulty levels. What I’m saying is – there’s no such thing as difficult or easy grammar, if you learn English naturally all grammar already comes with it and the ability of speaking efficiently is mainly down to every individual’s vocabulary size. The old school supporters argue that it’s not the case and one has to spend long years studying English Grammar from the beginner’s level up to advanced. But you’d better go back to the original blog post to read about it in depth and figure out where you stand on this. :!: Lastly I presented a number of counterarguments to approaching English and exact sciences with the same teaching methods. To put it simply, it’s all about recognizing that in the word driven by technological advancements during the Industrial Revolution, exact sciences where in the biggest demand and the modern educational system still mirrors those old, archaic assumptions about how students are to be taught subjects at schools and colleges. But why am I returning to the same topic again? Well, I simply couldn’t pack all the information I wanted to in a single blog post because there’s a whole lot more to say about the traditional way of teaching English! So here we go again with another 3 shocking reasons why academic English studies inhibit your English learning progress. (more…)
Have You Got the Guts To Improve Your English?
4 Reasons Why Studying English at School Won’t Make You a Fluent English Speaker
Many of us, foreign English speakers, began our English studies at school, so it would be only logical if the vast majority of use spoke impeccable English. Seven years long English studies will supposedly make you into a near-native English speaker, and we shouldn’t expect anything less from our educational system, isn’t it right? When an average student is required to speak English in an informal situation, however, the cold reality hits home – most of foreigners having gone through the standard educational system are very poor English speakers :!: I went through the whole spectrum of emotions starting from shock and ending with despair when I realized that my real-life English was useless back in the days when I just moved to an English speaking country. Throughout the following years up to present days I’ve improved greatly and at the same time I’ve also figured out why my school English studies didn’t contribute into my English fluency at all! What you’ll read below might shock you and you’ll realize that you’ve probably never looked at this subject from this perspective before. Sometimes a cold shower is necessary, though, so that you can start thinking outside the box and draw the right conclusions about your previous and existing English studying efforts. Whether you’re in Malaysia, Argentina or Canada and thousand miles separate you from other English students of different race, nationality and language, you’re most likely sitting in a classroom with 10 – 30 other students and staring at your English teacher… (more…)
How To Speak About Past Events During English Conversations
Written English is from Venus, Spoken English – from Mars!
Respect Your Native Language in order to… Speak Fluent English?
I'veÂ been constantly consumed by improving my spoken English so quite naturally I’ve been thinking in English, speaking English, reading English and also writing in English for the biggest part of my daily routines. As for my native language – Latvian – well, not much to say! I use it as means of communication with my family and other Latvians in the area, and I never paid too much attention how I spoke. After all, we all speak our native languages perfectly because that’s what native speakers do, right? I was actually quite surprised to discover that’s not really the case! And what’s more surprising – I also realized that one has to speak correctly in his own language to be good at spoken English :!: Are you confused? Are you thinking – “What on Earth has my native language got to do with my English? They’re too different languages and I already know my mother tongue as good as any other native speaker!” You’re right. Your language and English are different subjects. Languages don’t only differ in terms of phonetics, vocabulary, and grammar – they also reflect particular nationality’s and society’s lifestyle, customs and even different thinking patterns. However, there is one aspect that your language and English have in common. Clarity of thought! (more…)
Face Your Biggest Fears – Halloween Ghosts and English Speaking!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=/lH_E5ZE9mTE I’ve been writing and making videos about English fluency and improving English for a good while now. But all of it accounts for nothing if you just read and watch and leave it at that :!: If you don’t go out there and don’t enjoy life at its full, you’re not even using half of your potential as a foreign English speaker! Any language’s primary purpose is to serve as means of verbal communication – and all your English improving efforts should come together in real-life socializing :!: Are you still afraid of being judged by other English speakers? Are you still insecure about your spoken English? Would you rather AVOID situations that can potentially end up embarrassing you than FACE up to your English fluency issues and deal with them? Then learn from Halloween night when it’s all about FACING your fears and becoming stronger as a result! (more…)
Warning! Don’t Start Improving Your English Before Watching THIS!
How To Increase Your English Fluency By 100% in Less Than 12h!
If you think I chose the headline just to catch your attention and lure you into reading this blog post – well, this is not the case. Your rational mind is screaming against it but I know from my own experience that it is indeed possible to speak TWICE as fluently within a 12 hour period after experiencing a typical English fluency problem! So at the moment you could be barely capable of putting a few English words together and you’d feel like a total loser when it comes to speaking English. But if you follow the method described in this article you can perform unbelievably well when you have to communicate English the next day. It’s extremely important when you face job interviews, verbal exams, presentations and meetings. In others words – any occasion when you’re expected to speak and convey your message in English but you’re not sure about the level of your performance due to bad experiences in the past in similar situations. So if you experience the following symptoms: constant mind-chatter whenever you attempt to speak English; a feeling as if you have dozens of voices whispering English words and phrases in your head making it extremely difficult to concentrate; difficulties with pronouncing English words – you’re making silly mistakes in nearly every sentence for no obvious reason; ‘on the tip of my tongue’ feeling – you know what you want to say but it doesn’t come out of your mouth… … then read on and discover how to overcome this English speech anxiety and increase your English fluency by 100% in less than12 hours! (more…)
Shocking Reality About Foreign Accent and Fluent English
7 Ways to Kill Your English before You Even Start Speaking
Over the years I keep seeing the same mistakes being made over and over again by those who want to improve their English. But it’s really shocking to see that not only is reading and writing based English learning encouraged but speaking English is discouraged! Moreover, I found this genius approach of improving English by cutting out speaking on an authority website - I'd better not give its name here... Well, it would be folly to hold the website responsible for all their contributors posts – after all, even Wikipedia.org is full of wrong and misleading facts. Still the first point on the article I read voices the standard notion in the industry – and here it is: 1. Talk less and listen more. Brilliant, isn’t it? Shut your mouth, foreign English speaker, don’t practice your speech but instead focus on passive language input! This is the gem among all recommendations I’ve read online targeted to foreigners who want to improve their English, and I can’t stress enough how WRONG it is. (more…)
Does Reading Help You Improve English?
Is It Possible To Improve Your Spoken English By Watching TV?
Defining Your English Comfort Zone
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DjcMHEr_ZJs Hi folks, and welcome to the 20th English Harmony video episode! I really hope you enjoy watching my videos and you gain plenty of useful advice to implement when you’re speaking English! Today I’m going to tell you about a certain aspect of being a foreign English speaker – namely, being aware of the fact that on certain occasions you lack English understanding and also you’re not probably able to speak as well as you would want to – and all this even if you’re not experiencing the typical English fluency issue whereby you’d be getting stuck in speech. So let’s analyze such situations and figure out if you need to take further action. To do it best you’d need to take a better look at your everyday life and analyze if you’re fully comfortable with English you use to get by at work, when socializing, and also when enjoying your hobbies ;-) (more…)
How To Speak English Like A Native – Part 2
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MT-bpRbz9ks Today I’m going to continue with the last episode’s topic about how to manage situations when you’re kind of stuck when asked something in English. Now I’ll recap the last episode in a couple of words so that you can refresh your memory! ;-) So the first step on your way to gaining a total confidence in your English is awareness of the fact that you actually can talk about any topic in English as if it were your native tongue. Once you’ve convinced yourself that you CAN – and bear it in mind – it’s very important :!: – you’ve broken down the mental barrier that’s been preventing you from successful English communication. Then you can start actually thinking over the question the very same way you’d consider a question asked in your native language. Instead of frantically thinking what you can tell about the topic or question you just take one thing at a time, give the person a couple of counter-questions to get the conversation going, and of course don’t hesitate to use idioms like as a matter of fact, if I’m not mistaken, to the best of my knowledge and similar, to fill in the pauses in your conversation and take time. As you may have noticed, any conversation in any language is filled with such filler phrases. Although some may argue that they serve no purpose at all and only litter our language, I don’t fully agree. If we take out everything we can from a conversation or a story leaving only dry facts, it suddenly becomes very boring... :-( OK, but now as promised – two powerful tips of the speech issue management and at the end of the episode – about managing casual conversations! (more…)
How To Speak English Like A Native – Part 1
Improve Spoken English Fast – Focus On English Around You!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=/2f_xdJXQEb0 Check out my English Harmony System HERE! Hi folks, and welcome to the 17th English Harmony video episode! Today’s topic is about many foreign English speakers being detached from reality and focusing their English improving efforts on the wrong things. For instance, you may be working in a frozen food factory and 90% of your daily conversations with your work colleagues and superiors involve discussing different aspects of the production process, different issues that occur on a regular basis, and so on. So what would be the logical approach to improving your spoken English? I’d say it’s rather obvious – master 50 - 60 most commonly used phrases in your workplace and you’ll sound nearly as fluent as your native English speaking work colleagues :!: You may argue that any foreign English speaker will eventually master the active vocabulary used at his work anyway, but I don’t fully agree.Â You see – you may be so determined to become fluent at speaking English that you can end up being mentally detached from the natural environment you spend most of your time in. (more…)