You’ve Got to Do All the Heavy Lifting YOURSELF!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ylgz_ZptFE A couple of weeks ago I published an article called Make Some Effort to Improve Your English, Will Ya? where I was looking at the phenomenon of so many foreign English speakers NOT taking action in order to improve their English but instead relying on OTHERS to steer them into the right direction and provide some magic formula for an easy and effortless English improvement. Five days ago I published a video called Are You Spending Sufficient Amount of Time on Speaking? where I looked at another aspect of the same phenomenon. Namely – foreigners expecting their fluency to improve while at the same time NOT investing anywhere near enough time in SPEAKING. Not to mention countless other articles and videos I’ve published over the years trying to convey pretty much the same message: (more…)
Using Short English Words AT, OF, A, THE in Conversations
Improving English? TOO General! Sometimes You Gotta Be More SPECIFIC!
Your Body Constantly Changes – And So Does Your English Fluency!
English Idiomatic Expression: “Largely Due to The Fact”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ajFV18LDOI8 Hello all English learners out there! :-) If you’re a hard-working English learner, you have acquired good English speaking, writing and reading skills LARGELY DUE TO THE FACT that you’ve put long hours and dedication into the process. If all you’re doing in order to improve your English is checking some news articles in English every now and then, you’re in a poor English fluency state and it’s LARGELY DUE TO THE FACT that you haven’t been making any real effort in terms of English improvement. As you can clearly see from the paragraphs above, today’s English idiomatic expression is LARGELY DUE TO THE FACT, and it’s a very handy phrase for situations when you want to sound smart and intelligent. (more…)
More Proof That Context and Associations Play Crucial Role When It Comes to Spoken English Performance
Update From Robby: New Job, Fluency Star Finished, Spoken English Self-practice Still Going Strong!
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! Hi Guys! Today I'm bringing you a quick update on what I've been up to this summer, and you wouldn't believe how busy I've been doing all the following: Finishing my IT certification; Organizing my work experience; Preparing for a job interview; Starting in a new job; ...and all the while keeping teaching my Fluency Star students at night! (more…)
4 Reasons Why Studying English at School Won’t Make You a Fluent English Speaker
Check Out My NEW Blog AccentAdventure.com!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rNH2K3fw-qU I started EnglishHarmony.com back in 2007 – so it’s almost 5 years in operation! This year, however, marks the birth of another blog of mine – namely, AccentAdventure.com! It’s a new blog I started earlier this summer, and it’s dedicated to learning different English accents. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll know my stance on pronunciation and accent related issues. The advice I always give to my fellow foreigners is – “Speak the way you’re comfortable, don’t try to bend over backwards just to get your English pronunciation perfect because you’re running the risk of ruining your English fluency!” Having said this, however, I’ve NEVER ENCOURAGED my fellow foreign English speakers to NEGLECT the pronunciation aspect of their spoken English; I’ve never said – “Who cares about pronunciation, speak however you want!” A lot of people have misinterpreted my advice and I’ve received quite a few comments blaming me for sending out the wrong message. And I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest to receive a couple comments on this video blog post saying that I’m being a hypocrite by first telling everyone not to care about proper pronunciation and then learning to speak like an American which obviously contradicts my previous claims! Now, let me get this one straight. The purpose of the AccentAdventure.comÂ blog is to show that it is POSSIBLE to learn to speak like an American, Brit, Australian or any other native English speaker if you invest enough time and effort into the process! Also, I want to use this new blog as a platform to reveal popular misconceptions surrounding accent acquisition – same way I’m using this blog to show how ineffective traditional studies are when it comes to oral English fluency. For instance, I don’t believe it’s necessary to focus on accent reduction; this term is wrong! I also think it’s totally wrong to learn pronunciation by learning what way certain English vowels can be pronounced etc. It’s 100 times more efficient to learn how to pronounce certain words and sentences; if you learn to analyze separate sounds and how they can be pronounced you’ll end up in a ‘paralysis by analysis’ situation! So, basically if you’re interested in certain tips and tricks on improving your English pronunciation and accent – definitely make sure to check out my new blog at AccentAdventure.com! Robby ;-)
Never Ignore English Movies If You Want to Be Fluent!
Does Integration of Foreigners into English Speaking Society Work?
3 Similarities Between Speaking in English And Driving a Car
I’ve been a driver for a good few years – since 2006, if I’m not mistaken, and nowadays driving comes just as easy to me as walking or running! There was a time, however, when I wasn’t comfortable while sitting behind the wheel. As you can imagine, any learner driver has their bad moments, and when I look back at my first attempts to drive a car, I can only be thankful to God I didn’t cause any accidents because there were too many opportunities for that to happen! “What’s driving got to do with speaking in English?” – you may ask. “This is a blog for foreign English speakers – not drivers!” For starters, both processes are life-skills you have to LEARN, so no matter which one you’re looking at – spoken English performance or driving a car – they both involve a great deal of learning before you get any good at it. Furthermore, both driving and speaking in English can be easily affected by a multitude of mental and emotional factors, and that’s where it gets really interesting, my friends foreign English speakers! ;-) (more…)
How to Reduce Clauses to Phrases in English Sentences
My last article for English Harmony was about when you can and can’t omit relative pronouns such as “who” and “that” from sentences. What we concluded is that you can omit the pronoun when it acts as an object, as in the sentence below: The dog (that) Mary is petting has brown fur. (The relative pronoun “that” is optional here.) But you cannot omit the pronoun when it acts as a subject, as in this sentence: The dog that is eating a biscuit has brown fur. However, astute reader Juhapekka pointed out that in examples like the above sentence, you can’t omit only the pronoun, but you can omit the pronoun plus the form of “to be” (in this case, “is”): The dog eating a biscuit has brown fur. (This is a well-formed sentence!) This introduces an entirely new topic in English grammar called clause-to-phrase reduction. This article will explore clause-to-phrase reduction, explain how and why it happens, and hopefully make the mysterious world of English grammar a little bit less confusing. (more…)
Building English Vocabulary – Part 1
FGC Goal #1: American Slang #28 GO SEE/WATCH/DO SOMETHING…
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ftudwHOnfGU Current Goal: Learn 50 American Phrases in 25 Days! Good morning my friends! ;-) Did you know, by the way, that it’s totally fine to omit the word AND when saying things like: I’ll go AND check on my sister to make sure everything’s OK. I had to go AND watch a movie with an old friend of mine even though I didn’t like it! Let’s go AND see what food we can round up! Yes, in conversational English it’s 100% fine to omit the word AND so the above sentences become: I’ll GO CHECK on my sister… I had to GO WATCH a movie… Let’s GO SEE what food… (more…)
English Schwa Sound [ə] – What It Is & How To Get It Right!
Customer Support & Service Industry English Phrases
Personally I've been working in various service industry positions for the better part of my working life: Shop-assistant. Bartender. Technical Support Agent. Been there, done that! ;-) Having spent many years dealing with clients on a daily basis, I know only too well how important effective communication is when dealing with customers. Not to mention getting your job in the first place! I mean, do you think your future employer is going to hire you if your spoken English isn’t up to scratch and you don’t know how to greet your customer and ask them what they’d like you to do for them? Also, considering that many companies will put you on probation before offering you a permanent position, it only stands to reason you should show great English communication skills when it comes to dealing with people. After all, customers are the lifeblood of the company you represent, and your employer won’t hesitate hiring someone else if customers are struggling to understand you. If the customer service you provide isn't good enough, why would they keep you, right? So, would you like to brush up on your spoken English skills so that you can provide an outstanding customer service? Well, I’m going to give you plenty of useful English phrases so that you can read them, speak them out loud, memorize them and then use them at work :!: (more…)
4 PRACTICAL Things You Didn’t Know About the English Language
How To Get Involved When Speaking English
Everything About TOEFL: Interview With Paul & Rachael from LanguageTrainers.com
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TbwbUXBBg30 In this video I’m interviewing Paul and Rachael from LanguageTrainers.com and we’re looking at the following TOEFL related questions: What TOEFL is all about? Is TOEFL the American counterpart of IELTS? When is TOEFL the right option for you? Is it possible to score a high mark in TOEFL just by improving your overall English skills through full English immersion? Is writing is the most important skillset necessary to pass TOEFL? What study tools are the best for practicing reading and listening skills? What do the speakers sound like in the TOEFL listening section? How long does the speaking part of TOEFL last? Is it possible to achieve your target TOEFL score if you’re not orally that fluent in English? How exactly is the student expected to perform during the TOEFL speaking part? How is grammar accessed during the TOEFL test? Is it necessary for students to focus on grammar studies predominantly when preparing for TOEFL? Links mentioned during the interview: English Listening Tests English Accent Game Connecting Your Ideas in English Writing (more…)
Can You Speak Fluent English Without Learning Idioms?
Apparently you can’t get far in spoken English if you don’t know the traditional English idioms – so they say. For instance, the idiom “Till the cows come home” means “for a very long time” so you should be certain to use this idiom every now and then when you want to emphasize futility of the action you’re discussing – “You can try to please your boss’s every whim till cows come home, but you still won’t get that promotion.” Or this one – “The pot calling the kettle black”. This idiom is used to point out to a person accusing someone that he’s not all that innocent himself. Is it true though? Do you really have to go the extra mile (you see – I just used another idiom so they have to be useful, right?) learning such and similar English idioms to sound fluent and be able to communicate easily with other English speakers? Well, I can’t actually give you a definitive answer to this question without first discussing the nature of English idioms and how they’re used. So let me bring up an example so that you can start seeing the big picture (see – another idiom!). I remember an occasion when my daughters had their friend around and it started raining really heavily. As they say here in Ireland – it was lashing outside! I made a comment about the heavy rainfall and used the typical (so they say…) idiom – “It’s raining cats and dogs.” And you know what? None of the kids had the slightest idea of what I was talking about :!: Fair enough, my daughters moved to Ireland when they were four, so it’s understandable that they mightn’t have known the expression I used. Their friend, however, was a native English speaker so I kind of expected hear to know this popular (or so I was led to believe!) English idiom. Why, don’t all English speaking people exclaim “It’s raining cats and dogs!” when it’s raining outside? According to so many English learning related websites it’s true, and you’ll be given a list of such and similar archaic phrases as your typical idioms to learn in every second English grammar book! (more…)
What’s the Best Way to Go About Shadowing English Videos?
How to Develop Good Ear for English Listening
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zkJUWRRzJXU This video is a response to a question asked by one of my mailing list subscribers, and his main concern is the ability to UNDERSTAND what other English speakers are saying to him. When he reads some English text, his comprehension is way better, but it’s just that when he’s spoken to, his understanding isn’t that good. Well, guess what? It’s totally natural! ;-) When you read, there’s no way you can mishear words and not understand them because of the way they’re pronounced, or maybe because the person is speaking too fast. There’s a multitude of various factors contributing into one’s ability to understand spoken English, but here’s the main points I would like to stress: (more…)
How I Made a Nonsensical English Mistake 3 Times in a Row!
Want To Seriously Improve Your Spoken English? Find a Hobby For Yourself!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-bcbqk6OmA Are you into something? Are you a big sports fan and you follow the English Premier League or National Football League and work out in a gym three times a week? Are you mad into photography and you always show up at parties and other occasions with a camera strapped over your neck? Or maybe you’re big into reading and you spend all your free time reading crime fiction? Well, even if you’re not interested in anything I just mentioned, you definitely have some sort of an interest in something that can be classified as a hobby. Even if you spend the biggest part of your free time playing Xbox or just watching telly, it’s something you can use in order to improve your English fluency, I’m sure of it! (more…)
English Idiomatic Expression: “It’s been dealt with”
Can Present Continuous Substitute Present Simple Tense?
English Idiomatic Expression: “Needless To Say”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vxhjUfwfnck Hello boys and girls, I’m back with another English idiomatic expression! This time around I’m going to look at the following phrase: “needless to say”, and I think this one is quite self-explanatory. Basically you can use this phrase whenever you’re going to say something common sense, something that is very logical and straightforward, something that may as well not be said because it kind of goes without saying. Let’s say, for example, you’re filling your friend in on something that happened while he wasn’t at work, and here’s what you’re saying: “… and then Jane told him everything she thought of him and needless to say, he hasn’t spoken to her since!” (more…)
FGC Goal #1: American Collocation #7 – RINGED WITH CHAIN LINK, TOPPED WITH RAZOR WIRE
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4WIr20KD0o Current Goal: Learn 50 American Phrases in 25 Days! You definitely must have noticed the typical military facility settings in American TV programs and shows: Guard towers and massive light beams probing the area; Helicopters flying all over the place; And most importantly – the facility is always RINGED WITH CHAIN LINK AND TOPPED WITH RAZOR WIRE! That’s today’s American English phrase, and if you’re interested in my take on the whole thing, please watch the video above! As always, I’m touching upon other subjects in the video as well, so you’re guaranteed to have an even deeper insight into intricacies of the English language and you’ll most likely learn more idiomatic expressions on top of the one I’m focusing on today - RINGED WITH CHAIN LINK AND TOPPED WITH RAZOR WIRE. (more…)
There’s Always Someone Worse Off Than You!
English Idiomatic Expression: “To be honest with you”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a9lYms9kyAw To be honest with you guys, I didn’t have a clue as to what exactly I was going to say when I sat down to record today’s video… I just winged it (it’s one of those American slang expressions I learned while watching Desperate Housewives, and it means ‘to improvise’) , and I’m quite hopeful you’re not going to be too critical of me! Today’s phrase actually happens to be ‘to be honest with you’ – which is how I actually started off this article – and it’s a perfect way of establishing trust and connecting to your conversation partner or the audience you’re facing. You’re basically appealing to the other person’s conscience by showing that you’re ready to be completely honest and upfront with them, and even if there’s nothing for you to hide from your conversation partner, the phrase ‘to be honest with you’ still works at a subconscious level. At least I’d like to think so! :grin: (more…)
Don’t Try to Speak in English as if You Were Writing!
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…)
20 Random Thoughts on English Fluency, Foreign English Speakers and Life in General
Do You Really Suck At Speaking English?
Shortcut to Complete English Fluency – Learn How to Produce Instant English Speech
Whether you’re a Chinese exchange student heading off to do some studying in Massachusetts, a Russian construction worker getting on a plane having secured a contract in Australia or just another Latvian like myself coming to Ireland to try out luck in finding a job to save up some money – we all have one thing in common. Namely – we haven’t had much experience with speaking English in everyday situations. We may have been academically tutored at quite high standards yet our capability to start and maintain a simple conversation may be limited simply because it’s not normally taught in schools. By far the biggest problem is that you don’t have much time to consider what you’re going to say. When you’re having a conversation, you’re quite naturally expected to answer questions or make your point within a short period of time – and it will prove difficult for many foreign English speakers. Many of us will be more comfortable writing than speaking and it’s quite understandable – when you write you have all the time in the world to plan exactly what you’re going to say and how you’re going to say it. You can construct grammatically perfect sentences, edit them if need be, and take your time finding the best fitting words to convey the message. It’s a different story altogether when you speak – you have to say what’s on your mind and for some it may present a serious challenge because their mind just goes blank. It’s the so-called information overload when your mind is attempting to process way too much information because all you keep thinking is what grammar tense to use, what are the best fitting words for the given situation, how to say it correctly so that you don’t make a mistake… The key aspects of fluent English speech is the ability to think in English and speak using plenty of collocations and idiomatic expressions; it enables you to speak automatically because nearly every word you say will trigger the next one. It’s the best place to be because you don’t even have to think about what you say – you can just speak as if you’re speaking in your native language. Anyway – this article is about how to use a certain shortcut in situations when your fluency is hindered and you’re desperate to get the message across successfully. So here we go! (more…)