Where I Source All These English Idiomatic Expressions?

By Robby

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Hi guys, hello boys and girls and welcome back to Robby’s English Harmony video blog!

I’m obviously Robby, your English fluency facilitator. Yes, that’s the term that I came up with myself, facilitator means obviously someone who facilitates your fluency. I’m not a teacher, because I really hate the term teacher. It kind of implies a traditional setting whereby the teacher is looking down on their students, right? But I’m not looking down on you guys, I’m just merely facilitating your fluency and improvement!

I’m accompanying you on your journey to English fluency, that’s all I’m doing, I’m giving you the right advice, the right tools and then it’s up to you guys to decide whether you take my advice on board and take some action or you don’t in which case obviously your fluency won’t improve. It’s as simple as that!

As a matter of fact, I’m getting plenty of questions almost on a daily basis asking me to help people with their fluency. And the question is posed in a way that makes me kind of wonder whether that person actually realizes that it’s actually down to them to make all the effort, do the hard work and actually work on their fluency because they almost expect me to kind of magically transfer all my skills unto them but it just doesn’t happen like that in real life.

And it’s another one of those things that I blame the traditional English teaching industry for – basically they’ve created this notion out there that if you just attend an English class, you will improve just because you have attended the class. The teacher has all the qualifications and it’s enough to have that kind of setting and you will automatically improve. So it kind of takes away all the hard work and effort that you have to do. And it makes it look as if it’s very easy but in real life it’s quite hard, right? It’s hard work.

But a lot of people don’t realize that and they think that Robby will somehow make them fluent which is not the case. I’m merely facilitating your own journey to fluency. I’m giving you the right advice, the right tips and tricks, so that’s how it happens, right?

But anyway, today’s video is all about how I find all these English idiomatic expressions and collocations and phrases, you name it. How I come up with them. Because I’ve been cranking out all of these idiomatic expression videos – well, lately I haven’t published too many of them because of my high workload, I’m currently engaged with a couple of students that I took on. My Fluency Star students and I still had a few left from the previous round.

You see, I open this Fluency Star coaching program in rounds. I take on a few students and then I close the program because obviously there is only so many hours in my day. I can’t be possibly handling dozens of people at the same time. It’s just not possible, right? So I close it down, then I deal with those students and then I open the program again. And currently I took on two more students but I had a few more left, so it’s very hectic to say the least. I’m very busy these days but I still try to make a few videos here and there just to keep you guys engaged, okay?

So where were we? What was I saying? I have a bad trait of veering off the subject the whole time. You might have noticed that in my previous videos, right? I’m constantly veering off the subject, then I’m like hold on a second, what was I talking about?

Yeah, how I find these expressions, yeah, there was a time when I used to publish almost daily idiomatic expressions and that’s where the actual name comes from, daily, that was my original intention, right? To publish these expressions on a daily basis but now you’re lucky to get one a week if you’re lucky, right? Sometimes once a month or something like that. But to be honest with you, I’ve recorded a few of those and I have them stored on my hard drive and then I will publish them in the weeks and months to come. So I will serve you guys more of those expressions, right?

But basically the question was how do I come up with all these phrases? Where do I find them, where do I source them? And if you read my blog, you’ll obviously realize that I’ve highlighted all these collocations and idiomatic expressions in my blog articles. And there’s dozens upon dozens of those collocations in each and every single one of those articles. And that’s actually how you can use my blog for your own English improvement. You can read them, you can memorize them and you can do spoken English practice around those collocations. That’s how the whole thing comes together, right?

So where I find them? You may be surprised guys but I don’t purposefully go looking for them. Okay? The fact of the matter is that over the years – I’ve been living in an English-speaking country for 14 years now – almost 14 years, it’s going to be 14 this August. But I like to tell myself that it’s 14 years, okay? Even though it’s a few months short.

So over the last 14 years I’ve been exposed to a huge, huge amount of information in English. Because I basically live my life in English. There is very little Latvian, which is my native language, right? But there is very little of my native language in my daily life. Except for communication with my wife and kids, I do everything else in English. If you walk into my home office, everything is in English.

I have English books, notes, the white board is all covered in English notes, obviously the whole English Harmony thing, teaching my students, I’m doing spoken English self-practice, everything is in English. So I’ve been exposed – and I watch a lot of, well, lately I haven’t been watching a lot of TV because I just don’t have time for it but whenever I get a chance, I would consume some English material. Whether it’s an English film or some YouTube video or something. And over the years I’ve been exposed to such large quantity of information that I have developed a massive passive vocabulary.

And as a matter of fact, I realized today that I haven’t published a blog post called basically what is the difference between the passive and the active English vocabulary. So I went ahead with it, I decided to write it, I wrote it today and by the time I publish this video I’m pretty sure that that blog post is going to be published as well.

So you may want to click on this link here. So the funny thing is the post isn’t even published yet but I know for a fact that I’m going to publish it within the next few days so you can click on this link here, it’s going to take you to my blog or you will read about what is the difference between a passive and an active vocabulary.

So basically in a few words your passive vocabulary is everything that you recognize, all that you know. All English vocabulary, phraseology, expressions, terms, all that that you know, that you recognize but that you can’t use. If you were to speak or write, you wouldn’t be able to use that. So basically speaking, writing, that’s your active vocabulary.

So as you can imagine your passive vocabulary is way bigger than your active one. It’s huge, it’s enormous. You can’t even probably think of how many words you know. I can’t think of a specific figure. Maybe I know 20,000 English words, 30,000, nobody knows really. But believe me, even if you think that it’s relatively small, it’s actually 5 times bigger that number, okay, that you had in your mind, right?

Most of These Expressions Come From My Passive Vocabulary!

So my passive vocabulary is huge, so when I write content for my blog, I instinctively know all those collocations and phrases. It just comes naturally. I have developed the so-called gut feeling for correct English and you may want to click on this link here which is going to take you to the respective page on my blog where I’m talking about the gut feeling and developing it.

Basically it’s intuition for correct English. And I’ve been exposed to English for so long, and obviously I’ve been actively involved in speaking and writing and all of that, but the exposure has insured that all that kind of content is in my head. It’s already in there. I just have to tap into it!

And by constantly writing and speaking with myself, I just transfer some of that passive vocabulary into my active one. All those collocations and phrases, even if I didn’t use a specific collocation previously, the moment I start using it, it becomes part of my active vocabulary. And just like I said in this article about the active and passive vocabulary, you can read quite interesting questions which is all about re-activating your active vocabulary for instance and is it possible to forget words from your passive and your active vocabulary? Quite interesting stuff, so I really suggest you read it.

So yeah, that’s how I source them. And obviously now that I’ve been working with my own students, I constantly check for stuff online, I use all these dictionary websites, make sure that I’m always giving my students the proper collocations because I wouldn’t just run the risk of giving people a phrase or a collocation that’s not really valid. So I validate each and every one of those expressions to make sure I give my students the best.

So I’ve developed this gut feeling of knowing, instinctively knowing what way native speakers refer to this or that particular thing. So there’s a large database of expressions and idioms in my head. I just have to tap into it and that’s how I source them for you guys to publish on my website and on my video blog.

As for you, you don’t necessarily have to do that. While it’s great if you can achieve that level whereby you have developed the gut feeling for correct English and you can instinctively feel what way you have to say certain things and then you have to check whether you said it right or wrong and then you can solidify that knowledge in your active vocabulary.

I’ve Done All the Hard Work For You!

But you can just use my blog for starters because it’s stuffed full with these collocations and idiomatic expressions like thousands of them, literally. You can just read my blog posts, watch my videos basically and if you click here, you’re going to be able to check out my blog sitemap page where you’ll find more than 600 articles and videos. That’s a massive number, just think about it. Can you even wrap your head around it? 600!

I can’t even – sometimes I find it hard to believe myself that I’ve created so much content, right, that – I don’t want to sound like bragging but it is an impressive figure, right? So as you can imagine, if you went through them all, it would take you probably even months or years to read them all and to consume all that content, to take it in. So there’s hundreds upon hundreds, thousands, if not tens of thousands of collocations ready for you to learn from my blog alone.

So that’s your starting point and obviously consume English content. Passive exposure isn’t something that I’m totally against. I’m always emphasizing the importance of spoken English practice and active usage of the English language because people tend not to do it.

Basically if I told you that you have to expose yourself to English, the lazy human nature within you and don’t be insulted guys, I’m the same, we are all lazy by our nature, that’s very human, right – to exert the least amount of effort to achieve something!

So if you could choose between consuming passive English content and doing some spoken English practice, then obviously the lazy nature within you would dictate that you would rather watch something and listen to something instead of speaking with yourself, right?

But we have to possess the intelligence, we have to be intelligent enough to understand that if we don’t engage in active English practicing, our fluency is not going to develop. It’s just not going to happen. So where was I?

Yeah, I was going to say that you have to expose yourself to a lot of English, basically surround yourself with English. Come to think of it, I recorded a video about it, it’s not published yet so it’s all about immersion, surrounding yourself with English and it’s all about the fact that if you live English, quite literally, do everything in English, then you just can’t not pick up all these expressions and collocations because you’ll be exposed to them for a long period of time just like I was, you know, over these last 14 years and then you will quite instinctively feel what way things have to be said and what those collocations and phraseology entail.

So I hope that that answers the question, obviously I went into a very long-winded rant, you know, probably more than 10 minutes or something, but this is actually one of those ways I improve my spoken English myself. I record a video like that and it improves my spoken ability big time to tell you the truth guys. Big time!

Now if you have any more questions, please publish them in the comment section below and if not, then you’re welcome obviously to check out my blog at EnglishHarmony.com and see if there’s anything else that catches your eye. Alright. Chat to you soon. Bye-bye!


P.S. Would you like to find out why I’m highlighting some of the text in red? Read this article and you’ll learn why it’s so important to learn idiomatic expressions and how it will help you to improve your spoken English!

P.S.S. Are you serious about your spoken English improvement? Check out my English Harmony System HERE!

English Harmony System

P.S. Are you serious about your spoken English improvement? Check out the English Harmony System HERE!

English Harmony System
  • No problem, any more questions – just let me know! 😉

  • Leander

    Robby Robby Robby I love you dude!!!
    Every thing that you post on the blog is so relatable exactly what happens to me. Thanks for putting together the articles. And I feel so great and confident about my English now.

  • Alright, so it’s about switching between the languages – and I have to admit that it DOES present problems for some people whether you like it or not! Personally for me it sometimes takes anywhere between 10 and 30 minutes to get back into English 100% having been speaking in my native lingo for a while, so these issues are kind of natural. It gets better over time though, so the answer here is as always – practice as much as you can! More related videos: http://englishharmony.com/switch-to-from-english/ http://englishharmony.com/funny-experience-when-interpreting/

  • Leander

    Switching between the languages. 🙂
    From Hindi to English and vice versa.

  • Thanks for getting in touch Debajit, here’s my answers to your questions:

    1. Yes, getting stuck for words is the MOST common English fluency issue – I had it for years, and all my blog readers and YouTube followers are having the same issue!

    2. Thinking in English – well, in reality thinking ONLY won’t help, it might make things even worse! Please watch this video where I’m explaining how thinking is done in a proper way: http://englishharmony.com/thinking-process/
    3. The same exact phenomenon can be observed in my native Latvian, for example we have the same word for “watch” and “clock” as well as “word” and “name” – so what used to happen to me the whole time was exactly what you’re saying – I’d say the wrong word! Solution? Constant practicing, that’s the only way forward. It simply takes an awful lot of practicing to train your brain and mouth to say the right word when required!

  • Can you please specify what exactly you mean by saying “code mixing”?

  • Leander

    PS: I think in English all the time as well but when I’m speaking those native languages, my thinking ability is also hindered a bit…My thoughts just get messy. Though my thinking is much better than the speaking situation at that time. Please some advice.

  • Leander

    Hi Im from India and 20 years is my age. My native language is Hindi. And I speak Bengali as well. Im fluent in English, I’d say. But I struggle with English when I’m speaking in either of the 2 native languages whenever I have to code switch. I speak solely in English I perform better and speak pretty well.. but my fluency sort of takes a hit… My native languages influence my English. As in the kind of syntax of my native languages and the way of saying things (colloquialisms and phrases) influence what I’d say in English…often they wouldn’t make sense in English.. This happens only when Im code mixing. Not when I speak English by itself. Could you help me? How to offset this influence of my native languages on my English?

  • Debajit Kar

    Hi Robby
    Appreciate your great work…
    Ill get straight into the issue and a word of caution: my problem according to me is rather peculiar or unique…
    Yeah so a little background first… Im an Indian and 18 years is my age… So Im at a level of English where Im fluent and don’t usually have a problem talking in the language in any situation… Not native like fluency exactly but somewhere close to it… except some occasional instances when Ive to look for words and Im just momentarily stuck and I think this is common, isnt it? (Do answer to this line as well!) And also Ive been thinking in English all the time as suggested by you. That has been of great help to me.
    Now the main issue, so I speak Bengali as my first language and in the language there are a certain things for which there is a single word. For example for reading and wearing we use the some word ‘Pori’ and there are other examples as well. So what happens is that when Im thinking in English or speaking in it, sometimes the English word for the other meaning of that word comes without even giving it a thought… And I don’t directly translate and have never done it… It happens just once in a while but it is concerning me so thought of sharing.