Coming Clean – modální slovesa v minulém čase

Coming Clean – modální slovesa v minulém čase

It doesn’t mean that I arrived in well-dressed way, or that I scrubbed off all the dirt after a particularly muddy football match. It means that I’m about to tell you the truth about something. And, I feel there are a few things I need to come clean about. This year I turned 42 years old and to be honest it hasn’t been a good year. It’s the first year I have ever felt the aches and pains of growing older, my eyesight is worse and I’ve made a few mistakes. I feel I should tell you about some of those mistakes if you’ll hear me out. Each of these mistakes has a moral for me to learn from, I’ll give you that at the end of each short tale. I’m not going to hang out all my dirty laundry to dry but I am going to air a few things and show you how we use modální slovesa v angličtině. So, today is about modals and morals, shall we begin?

Rail journey to Berlin (and a lesson in how to use modální slovesa v minulý (would HAVE BEEN)

German train modální slovesa v minulem čase

A month ago, I made a last minute decision to go to Berlin to visit my friends and watch a football match with them. By last minute I mean, the day before. I’m from Yorkshire and Yorkshire people (like the Scottish) are stereotyped as being a bit tight with their money. While I don’t consider myself tight I have to admit that I love to get the best deal.  So it was I set about finding the most economical way of getting to and from Berlin. I knew about a railway ticket that allows you to travel in both regions on either side of the German border ie. Last year I had a ticket for Plzensky Kraj and Bavaria when I went to watch Union Berlin’s match with Jahn Regensburg.

This time I thought I would buy a ticket for Ustecky Kraj (300kč) which allows you to travel in Saxony. I had already found and bought an online ticket from Deustchebahn to allow me to travel in Brandenburg and Berlin for 22Euros. The whole deal would cost me just over 1000 including travel to Prague and from Prague to the Usti region. A standard Prague-Berlin return would have been over 2000kč. Are you still with me?

So, once on the train it transpired that I couldn’t use these tickets on the express inter-city trains and so I had to buy two 42 Euro single tickets to and from Dresden on top of the 1200kč Prague Dresden ticket. Of course, I could have simply used the slower regional trains with my original tickets but I wouldn’t have been able to get back home on the same day. In the end I spent about 4000kč! Imagine where I could have flown to for that money!

The moral of this tale is an easy to learn from – Don’t try too hard to be clever. Let’s continue with my next and more serious mistake…

Car bump

car bump modálni slovesa v minulem čase

The most serious of these mistakes happened just two weeks ago. I was busy in the morning writing some emails and it all went successfully. I got everything done that I needed to do before lunch and in time to be able to take my older daughter to gymnastics. She’s gymnastics mad and loves going to her class twice a week. All in all it would have been a great day but for what heppend next.

So, we jumped in the car and she was asking how fast I could say the alphabet in English (very fast) as we approached the junction on the edge of our village. I saw a car in front of me waiting for a space and as I pulled up behind him he set off.  I glanced to my left and saw three cars coming but far enough away that I had time to join the road. Before I turned my head back to look in front of me, I set off and then …SMASH! The other car was still there. He must have decided that he didn’t have enough time to get out. Of course, it was my fault, though I felt a little unlucky, but I accepted the blame and have been without a car since as we await it’s repair. The other man is similarly waiting for my insurance company to pay for his repairs.

The moral and my opportunity to learn? Pay more attention, especially with things that are habits that I do automatically. Funny/ironic really, as I have been reading Eckhart Tolle’s New Earth for the second time which is a book all about paying attention to what you are doing AT ALL TIMES!

Compounding injuries

I’m a runner, or at least I like to think of myself as one. Not a great one, but, over the last few years I have seen some improvement with regular training. As I mentioned in my intro this year is the first year I have started to feel the aches and pains of age and after a knee injury at an orienteering event in July I should have taken a rest and given myself time to recover. That’s no my style though, as I pride myself on my endurance and believe that continuing as normal is the best way to overcome small niggles. This wasn’t s so much of a small niggle however and it was soon compounded by a compensatory injury in my other knee. That has lead to back pain and … You don’t really want to read about the grumblings of an old man now do you?

Moral? Curb my enthusiasm and come to terms with the fact that I’m not as young as I used to be. Sad but true.

Having a Cleaner

I’ll let you in on a dirty secret that I know many of you don’t like to admit to anyone. We have a cleaner. There, I’ve said it. I struggled with this decision because I don’t like the idea of paying someone else to do my dirty jobs, I’m quite happy doing them myself. However, with both of us working, the responsibility for keeping the house clean is down to me and there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything. I look after and play with the kids, feed and clean the animals (sheep, hens, duck, rabbit, fish, dogs, cat and hamster), see face to face Engish clients, run my online business and keep the house in a liveable state. My mistake? I’m sure you can appreciate that a bit of help in that department was absolutely required.  Why didn’t we do this before? We could have done it ages ago?

Admit when you are overwhelmed and be brave enough to ask for help.

Modální slovesa

What did you notice about those modální slovesa v minulém čase? – That’s correct! the past tense version of a modal verb has the same structure as the present perfect; verb + HAVE + Past Participle  I could have written this quicker but it wouldn’t have been better. Now there’s a habit to correct 🙂

Idiom phrases and their meanings (from dictionary.cambridge.org)

To come clean about somethingto tell the truth about something that you have been keeping secret: I thought it was time to come clean (with everybody) about what I’d been doing. Admitting & confessing.

to hang out your dirty laundryTo talk to other people or in front of other people about personal things that should be kept private. You can also say “wash your dirty linen in public” and in America they use “air your dirty laundry/linen in public”.

to air a few things – to make opinions or complaints known to other people: Putting a complaint in the suggestions box is one way of airing your grievances. He’ll air his views on the war whether people want to listen or not.

to hear me out – to listen to someone until the person is finished speaking: Hear me out and then tell me what you think of the plan.

So there you have it. A few of the mistakes I have made this year. I’ve come clean about them, aired them and admitted them. Now it’s your turn. Don’t be scared, I only want to know about your English mistakes 🙂 Do you know which mistakes you are making? If not, take my free video course and start to correct a few of the most common mistakes Czechs and Slovaks make when speaking English. I suppose, if you’re feeling brave, you could tell me about your other mistakes in the comments below 😉 Look out next week for a review of the year and anything you might have missed.

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Nejlepší způsob jak se naučit anglicky

Nejlepší způsob jak se naučit anglicky

Do you want to be proud of your English?

If you want to know nejlepší způsob jak se naučit anglicky then two of the most important things you need are motivation and goals. I have discussed motivation in another article so today we will talk about how to set specific goals to learn English. Click here for a link to my vocabulary list for the highlighted words. Let’s begin…

In all my years of helping people with their English and trying to learn Czech myself, the one thing that I have learned, is that no magic potion can make you the master of a language overnight, it takes time, dedication and a systematic approach. Luckily for you, I’m here to help you set those goals and also follow them religiously, so that you can converse with confidence in English. Keep reading to find out how to get this week’s free Goal Setting Creation Sheet.

Aren’t Motivation and Goals the same thing?

The difference between motivation and goals is that motivation is subjective and varies from person to person, but goals are objective. They are set according to your learning skills and retention capability. Today I’ll help you learn how to set great goals that you can follow to learn English more effectively.

You may have heard the saying ‘work hard, play hard, but the modern era needs something more than hard work, it needs smart work. Working smartly has become such a vital attribute today that it has been revered as a benchmark for doing everything in your life. Our phones have become smarter and our essential amenities are run by technology-driven systems, so let’s incorporate this smartness into our learning. By the way, if you would like to know more about working smartly in the office, have a look at my friend Jiří Benedikt’s site.

nejlepší způsob jak se naučit anglicky, English learning goals

S.M.A.R.T Goals je nejlepší způsob jak se naučit anglicky

Of course, there are many different systems and techniques for setting goals but my prefered method is one that uses the acronym SMART. Setting SMART goals will help you achieve them and by writing them down and ticking them off you will be able to measure your progress. (Guess what the M stands for!) So, without further ado, here’s what the letters of the acronym SMART stand for:

S- Specific

Be specific when you set your goals. Who is going to do it, when and where is it going to happen, how will you do it. What do you need to happen in order that the task is finished. Some of these questions may not be relevant to every task you set yourself but ask them anyway just to make sure.

M- Measurable

You need to set goals which are measurable. Devising long term plans is a good start but if you can ‘chunk it’ and break it down into smaller and more easily measureable tasks it will encourage you to continue learning the language. What you want is both a long term measurabe goal AND a series of shorter term goals that are equally measurable. An example might be to set the job of reading and finishing a book by a certain date; and then by chunking the longer term task into weekly (3 chapters) and daily goals (15 pages) you can more easily measure your progress.

A-Attainable

What’s the point of setting tasks if you cannot complete them? Instead, your tasks should be attainable on a hourly, daily or weekly basis. Consider this, you start with a task to write 5 essays this week on various topics. By the end of the week you were only able to complete 2 essays; this would surely demotivate you to work on it further. In its place, you can ensure that at least one 500 word essay is completed by a particular day of the week, and in it, you will try to use some of the new words that you learned earlier. Not too easy, not too hard!

R-Relevant

Making your goal relevant will help you learn better and faster if the daily tasks are more orientated towards your field of interest or your daily activities. For Example, if there is going to be a festival in your town next month, you can read material related to it or learn words that are associated with festivals. This will assist you in learning new words and allow you to converse more easily with people at the festival.

T-Time based

Time is your greatest acolyte while learning anything in life, so set limitations for your goals, like “I will … by the end of this month.” It will help you organize your tasks and daily routine. The important thing is to push yourself, but not beyond the limit. There is no rush, remember “Slow and steady wins the race.” I have been thinking about playing a gig (concert) for friends and family for a long time now. Just a few songs on the guitar, most of which I already know, but I’m still procrastinating about it because I have’t booked a venue and made it a concrete, time bound plan. When I have the date, I’ll put the time in to practise.

Today’s Freebie – SMART Goals Creation Sheet

Develop an action plan: I have developed a chart to help you create your SMART goals.   On the top of the sheet write your biggest English goal, on the line underneath write a shorter term goal. Use the questions on the sheet to help you develop a specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound goal. Finally use your answers to write a short statement of comittment to achieve your goal. I have included an example sheet where I outlined how you might achieve the goal of reading a book in English.

Finally

Remember that goals are not ‘the be all and end all’ (all that matters).  The journey is what is important. Enjoy the learning process. Celebrate when you achieve your goals but remember the joy will soon fade and you will be looking for another goal. If you are still struggling with a reason why you need to learn English, take a look at my motivation article.

How to Improve Your English Speaking – Part 3 – What’s Your Motivation

How to Improve Your English Speaking – Part 3 – What’s Your Motivation

If you have just arrived here read this first – Almost Everything You Need to Learn English. It will give you the best overview to answer the question: ‘How to speak better English’. To find out more about how you can find your motivation, read on…

Motivation to Speak Better English
How to Speak Better English – Motivation

How to Speak Better English? – Motivation

From my point of view, motivation is so closely linked with number two on our list, goals. (If you haven’t seen my list of Almost Everything You Need to Learn English, click here.) However, to me, goals are concrete, specifc, measurable things wheras motivation is a more general concept. For example, your motivation might be; to be able to speak English well enough to use it on holiday, but, a goal would be; to hold a conversation with an English speaker for 10 minutes, talking about particular topics of interest, by a certain date. So to answer our question ‘How to speak better English’ we need to know…

What is motivation? What motivates you to do anything?

In scientific terms it is said that motivation has two parts; directional and activated. Directional motivation is that which moves you either towards a positive outcome or away from a negative one. If you want to be a fluent English speaker or at least speak better English, that is postive, going to English classes at work only because your boss will fire you if you don’t is negtive motivation.

Activated motivation is the seeking (looking for) and consequent liking of the process and is dependent on the amount of dopamine in your system. Anyway, I’m not a chemical scientist so I’ll stick to what I know best and concentrate on how motivation relates to learning how to speak better English.

What motivates you to learn English?

I don’t know! However, I can tell you what motivates me to learn Czech. Firstly, I live in the Czech Republic so being able to understand what is happening around me is immensly important. To be able to really understand your culture, I have to better understand your language. I love playing football and talking to people who are interested in football and this is a huge motivation for me to get better at Czech. I want to have deeper conversations about the culture of football as well as discussing the game itself. (The photo is of me with my friends from Berlin watching 1.F.C. Union Berlin.)

I also love films and would really like to be able to watch more Czech films without English subtitles. I am a big fan of Svěrak and Smoljak and, as well as watching their films, I would like to understand the Cimrman plays. I have been to the Žižkov theatre but to the English performaces, which are excellent, however, to fully understand a Czech performance and be part of a Czech audience would be magic! I’d like to help you find your motivation to speak better English but…

How can you find your motivation?

Think about reasons why bettering your English is a good idea, think about your interests in life, the things that really turn you on, and then try to connect the two together. If you really, really can’t think of something, maybe you have no reason or motivation, maybe you just don’t need to learn English after all. Make sure to read the action point at the end of this article so you can begin to learn how to speak better English. But before that, I thought this might be interesting for some of you…

Etymology of the word motivation.

Click here to go to the Etymonline site to read the etymology of the word ‘motivation’.

Dictionary definition of motivation

“that which inwardly moves a person to behave a certain way”

Czech translation

motivace;

Synonyms

Reason

Stimulus, motivator = stimul/podnět (stimulus in English)

What motivation does.

Motivation drives us forward, makes us get up in the morning, keeps us going when the going gets tough, prods us to take action, inspires us to be creative and gives us a positive, happy feeling (when it’s that positive motivation – striving towards something better). Learning a language is really a lifelong lesson, even in your native language, so having positive motivation is the base on which to build all the other aspects of striving to speak better English.

How to speak beter English? Take ActionAction to take to speak better English.

Right now, take out a pen and paper and start to ‘brain dump’ your ideas. Anything you can think of that might be a reason to learn English, write down all your interests and look for connections between the interests and the reasons. Think about and write down how your life could be improved by improving your English and how you could positively affect the world, or at least your small part of it, by being a better English communicator. I’d love to know how you get on, so let me know in the comments below.

OK, so that’s today’s article all wrapped up. I hope you have found some inspiration in it and will ‘get yourself motivated’. As we say in English, ‘there’s no time like the present’. Unless of course you are Homer Simpson then you’d say ‘Why do today what can be put off ’til tomorrow?’

Now read this article on goal setting to speak better English.

How to Improve Your English Speaking Part 2 – A Deeper Look

How to Improve Your English Speaking Part 2 – A Deeper Look

This is an updated version of my Almost Everything You Need to Learn English post from 2017.

Speak better English

Today I am going to tell you what have I learnt (or learned) about the best ways to learn English (or any foreign language). For the last five and a half years I have been living in the Czech Republic, helping Czechs and Slovaks to learn English. Mainly, I have focussed on spoken English because my clients want to improve their speaking and there is no better way to do that than to simply speak. Or is there?

Here is a vocabulary list of the words in bold and their English definitions

During these last six years I have learnt a huge amount about how to teach and how we learn. It is my intention, over the next few weeks, to tell you just what I have learnt and to go in depth into each of the ideas. Today I will give you an overview of what to look forward to in the coming weeks and it is my hope that you can use this information to create some kind of personal plan for learning. First things first, have you read my introduction to Speaking Better English? Great, so now let’s take a look at the main areas I want to focus on…

Motivation

Motivation to Learn English

Before you even start to learn English, you need to have motivation, a reason for learning. This could be as simple as wanting to take a holiday in a foreign country, where you know English will be indespensible, or it could be because you want a new job and English is a prerequisite for getting the position. If you have a solid reason for learning it can help motivate you to learn. If you are studying English because your boss told you to, I recommend you find some real motivation to spur you on and give you a reason to learn English. To continue reading more about how to motivate yourself, click here. (Will be posted Oct 25th)

Goals

Having difficult but attainable goals will also spur you on. Long term goals are good but you also need more short and medium term goals, which, when you achieve them, will give you a boost and show you that you are making progress. I suggest even making goals for each learning session and gamifying the tasks you have. Then there’s the Pomadoro technique. You can read more about that and other goal setting ideas here.

English habitsHabits

Decide to have good habits. That is a choice you must make; to practise regularly and frequently. You simply must make time and prioritize your English. It doesn’t have to be THE most important thing in your life but it must have a prominent place.

 

Repetition and Review

I know, this is one of the 150 year old schooling methods that I mentioned earlier but it does have it place within an ultimate learning method. There are two reasons why it has remained the mainstay of the mainstream school and that is primarily through laziness/conservativeness of the school system in general but secondly because it does work as a way of fixing information in your memory. A future blog post will go into more detail on the pros and cons of how you can utilize this technique.

 

Confidence

Build your confidence right from the start. There are numerous ways you can do this, even if you are a really shy person or someone who is ashamed of their level of English. One quick tip for you today is to make a list of all the words you can find that are the same or similar in Czech and English. You immediately then have a ‘go to’ vocabulary. Start using these words as often as possible to send your brain the message that these words are OK!  You can meet with a native speaker, read books and watch video/tv/films; label everything in your home or office; Take risks and get out of your comfort zone. Take a holiday in a native speaking country and use what you know.

Make Mistakes

I am always telling people to STOP APOLOGIZING when they make a mistake. This is a terrible learned habit from your childhood when you were chastised for you errors by your parents and teachers. You were only trying to answer a question or do some task and because you got it wrong they shouted, scolded, punished, restricted and withheld. It is difficult to overcome these feelings but it is possible. Visualization is the key, more on that later. Basically, be able to laugh at yourself when you make mistakes. Make mistakes your friend. RELAX, it’s OK, but DO LEARN FROM THEM. I also have a video course to help Czechs and Slovaks to correct some of the most common mistakes you make when speaking English.

Grammar (Oh no!)

Don’t learn English grammar in the traditional way (unless you’re a polyglot and find it easy), use my Faster Grammar For Speaking method . I will explain more about this is a later post but essentially  it is a mixed tense way of learning that focusses firstly on the grammar you need to speak about yourself. This is a system I have been developing for some time and I hope will be a massive help to anyone who considers themself a false beginner. For those of you who are struggling with the Present Perfect tense here is a little freebie for you. Just click on the book image and I’ll send you the Easy Guide to the Present Perfect ASAP.

Jak se nejlépe naučit anglicky?
Easy Guide to the Present Perfect FREE ebook

Visualization

Without doubt, the biggest elephant in the room that the education system, the world over, is ignoring. Visualization is the best way to remember vocabulary, full stop (or period if you want to speak American English)

Learning Styles

I have written and spoken many times on the subject of learning styles and thankfully it is something that is creeping into education systems. Use as many learning styles as possible and finding your most prominent learning style will increse you learning effectiveness. I will write more on this later but for now you can check out this older post of mine which will give you a basic understanding of what learning styles are for the uninitiated.

Listen

Unfortunately, I find this to be the one area most neglected  by Czech and Slovak English learners. You should try to listen to native speakers as much as possible. Radio, tv, films, podcasts, music, documentaries and real people. If you are lucky enough to live in Prague you have an unending supply of native speakers. Teachers of course, but also on the streets, in the pubs, restaurants, shops and cafes. Get out there and listen.

Immediate Action

When a word randomly comes into your mind, immediately (or as quickly as possible) find out its meaning, write it down and visualize it. Start using your new words in your writing and in conversation frequently to fix them in your vocabulary.

Ask for Help

When you don’t understand something, write it down and ask your English teacher/helper to explain it. If you have no-one, find someone or at least try to find some advice on You Tube.

Learn English language online with a personal native teacher! Register to italki now.

 

Get Creative with Your Notes

Write down anything interesting you find in English, new nouns, verbs, phrases, grammar rules, idioms, expressions or just interesting facts in English. But don’t stop at just writing in the usual boring (school taught) note-taking way. Get creative with your notes. Fill the page with your own drawings, cartooning the vocabulary and using different font styles, shapes and sizes.

Copy What You Hear

Imitate what you hear. Copy the speaker instead of just pronouncing words as you read them. If you really want to have something like a native speaker’s accent you need to copy what you hear. Don’t just say things the way it’s written or the way you learned it, listen to how a native speaker says it. Be consistent with your pronunciation though and choose a particular accent rather than mixing and matching because this will lead to misunderstandings for sure. There exists an idea of a generic or sterotypical British and American accent when there really is no such thing. Both countries have a multitude of different accents. If you are interested, I posted about British accents on my facebook page here.

Next week I will expand upon motivation to learn English and try to help you find yours and give you actionable steps to find it.

Do you have a plan for learning? A method? A system? Tell me how you learn English in the comments below.

How to Improve Your English Speaking – Part 1 An Introduction

How to Improve Your English Speaking – Part 1 An Introduction

The pen is mightier than the sword”, but is it better than the spoken word? In today’s article we are going to look at how to improve your English speaking.

If speaking English is more of a problem for you than writing then you want to read my latest article. I explain the best ways to improve your speaking, from my own experience and from knowledge gleaned (got) from the highest authorities on the science of learning. And, there’s going to be one or two new idioms and phrases for you, so, as always, pen and paper at the ready to take notes. (Sketchnotes preferably) Read on…

Knowledge or Confidence?

First things first, do you lack knowledge? I mean vocabulary, tenses, how to pronounce things? Or, is it a question of confidence? If your reading and writing are good but you feel you are unable to communicate verbally then you may need to improve your English speaking confidence. As you are reading this article, you must have a decent level of understanding and because I believe it is much more inportant for communication than being a grammar expert, let’s start with confidence.

Confidence

Confidence is the key to beginning to improve your English speaking. Without it you will continue to struggle with self doubt and it will be a mental barrier blocking you from being able to effectively input, retain and recall new information. There are many ways you can increase your confidence in speaking English but they all require practice. Actually speaking, whatever level you are at, is the key. So, are you too shy to speak or have you not found the opportunity to speak English? The answer to the second question is easy (see my free tips sheet), but to answer the first question you will have to do a little personal psychology. Shyness comes from either a fear of failure or a fear of success. It’s therefore about mindset and how you think others percieve you. Try to start focussing on enjoying the journey of learning, ‘every day’s a school day’, and the results will take care of themselves.

Download this free list of practical ways to help you improve your English speaking.

Knowledge

On the other hand, we can all improve our speaking somewhere, so even if you are a very confident speaker, what else should you focus on to improve your English speaking? Without doubt I would argue that the most important area is your pronunciation. When you start to hear that you are sounding better, it will boost your confidence and enthusiasm. It will also make you more intelligable and less frustrating for others to listen to, leading to better conversations.

The best way to better pronunciation is to listen more, and I mean listen more in two ways. Firstly, actually spend more time listening to native speakers of English. Secondly, listen more intently and make real improvements to your English speaking by then copying what you hear. Take my free 5 day challenge on some of the basic English pronunciation areas to start to improve your English speaking. One great quick tip to check your pronunciation is to try using something like Google Translate’s microphone. See if it recognizes what you are saying.

How to Improve Your English Speaking – In a Nutshellwalnuts in a bowl, how to improve your English speaking

By listening more, you will improve your English speaking vocabulary and pronunciation. By asking yourself some deep questions and forcing yourself to practise speaking more (with a constantly improving pronunciation), you can increase your confidence.

Take action now: Download this free list of practical ways to help you improve your English speaking confidence and knowledge and take the 5 Day Basic English Pronunciation Challenge

Next week:  Part 2 – A Deeper Look at how to improve your English.

Jak se nejlépe naučit anglicky?

Jak se nejlépe naučit anglicky?

Today I am going to tell you what have I learnt (or learned) about the best ways to learn English (Jak se nejlépe naučit anglicky). For the last five and a half years I have been living in the Czech Republic, helping Czechs and Slovaks to learn English. Mainly, I have focussed on spoken English because my clients want to improve their speaking and there is no better way to do that than to simply speak. Or is there?

Here is a vocabulary list of the words in bold and their English definitions

During these last five years I have learnt a huge amount about how to teach and how we learn. It is my intention, over the next few weeks, to tell you just what I have learnt and to go in depth into each of the ideas. Today I will give you an overview of what to look forward to in the coming weeks and it is my hope that you can use this information to create some kind of personal plan for learning. First things first…

Motivation

Before you even start to learn English, you need to have motivation, a reason for learning. This could be as simple as wanting to take a holiday in a foreign country, where you know English will be indespensible, or it could be because you want a new job and English is a prerequisite for getting the position. If you have a solid reason for learning it can help motivate you to learn. If you are studying English because your boss told you to, I recommend you find some real motivation to spur you on and give you a reason to learn English. Click here for more on motivation.

Goals

Having difficult but attainable goals will also spur you on. Long term goals are good but you also need more short and medium term goals, which, when you achieve them, will give you a boost and show you that you are making progress. I suggest even making goals for each learning session and gamifying the tasks you have. To read about my favourite method for setting goals click here.

good_bad_habits_largeHabits

Decide to have good habits. That is a choice you must make; to practise regularly and frequently. You simply must make time and prioritize your English. It doesn’t have to be THE most important thing in your life but it must have a prominent place. Read more here about how to create great habits and replace bad ones.

Repetition and Review

I know, this is one of the 150 year old schooling methods that I mentioned earlier but it does have it place within an ultimate learning method. There are two reasons why it has remained the mainstay of the mainstream school and that is primarily through laziness/conservativeness of the school system in general but secondly because it does work as a way of fixing information in your memory. A future blog post will go into more detail on the pros and cons of how you can utilize this technique.

 

Confidence

Build your confidence right from the start. There are numerous ways you can do this, even if you are a really shy person or someone who is ashamed of their level of English. One quick tip for you today is to make a list of all the words you can find that are the same or similar in Czech and English. You immediately then have a ‘go to’ vocabulary. Start using these words as often as possible to send your brain the message that these words are OK!  You can meet with a native speaker, read books and watch video/tv/films; label everything in your home or office; Take risks and get out of your comfort zone. Take a holiday in a native speaking country and use what you know. More about gaining confidence here.

Make Mistakes

I am always telling people to STOP APOLOGIZING when they make a mistake. This is a terrible learned habit from your childhood when you were chastised for you errors by your parents and teachers. You were only trying to answer a question or do some task and because you got it wrong they shouted, scolded, punished, restricted and withheld. It is difficult to overcome these feelings but it is possible. Visualization is the key, more on that later. Basically, be able to laugh at yourself when you make mistakes. Make mistakes your friend. RELAX, it’s OK, but DO LEARN FROM THEM. I also have a video course to help Czechs and Slovaks to correct some of the most common mistakes you make when speaking English. This article is a good place to go to read abou mistakes mine included!)

Grammar (Oh no!)image-.jpg

Don’t learn English grammar in the traditional way (unless you’re a polyglot and find it easy), use my Faster Grammar For Speaking method . I will explain more about this is a later post but essentially  it is a mixed tense way of learning that focusses firstly on the grammar you need to speak about yourself. This is a system I have been developing for some time and I hope will be a massive help to anyone who considers themself a false beginner. If you are struggling with the dreaded present perfect tense, click on the picture to get my Easy Guide to the Present Perfect free ebook.

Visualization

Without doubt, the biggest elephant in the room that the education system, the world over, is ignoring. Visualization is the best way to remember vocabulary, full stop (or period if you want to speak American English)

Learning Styles

I have written and spoken many times on the subject of learning styles and thankfully it is something that is creeping into education systems. Use as many learning styles as possible and finding your most prominent learning style will increse you learning effectiveness. I will write more on this later but for now you can check out this older post of mine which will give you a basic understanding of what learning styles are for the uninitiated.

Listen

Unfortunately, I find this to be the one area most neglected  by Czech and Slovak English learners. You should try to listen to native speakers as much as possible. Radio, tv, films, podcasts, music, documentaries and real people. If you are lucky enough to live in Prague you have an unending supply of native speakers. Teachers of course, but also on the streets, in the pubs, restaurants, shops and cafes. Get out there and listen.

Immediate Action

When a word randomly comes into your mind, immediately (or as quickly as possible) find out its meaning, write it down and visualize it. Start using your new words in your writing and in conversation frequently to fix them in your vocabulary.

Ask for Help

When you don’t understand something, write it down and ask your English teacher/helper to explain it. If you have no-one, find someone or at least try to find some advice on You Tube.

Learn English language online with a personal native teacher! Register to italki now.

 

Get Creative with Your Notes

Write down anything interesting you find in English, new nouns, verbs, phrases, grammar rules, idioms, expressions or just interesting facts in English. But don’t stop at just writing in the usual boring (school taught) note-taking way. Get creative with your notes. Fill the page with your own drawings, cartooning the vocabulary and using different font styles, shapes and sizes. Look at Mike Rohde’s Sketchnotes site for a beautiful way to take notes.

Copy What You Hear

Imitate what you hear. Copy the speaker instead of just pronouncing words as you read them. If you really want to have something like a native speaker’s accent you need to copy what you hear. Don’t just say things the way it’s written or the way you learned it, listen to how a native speaker says it. Be consistent with your pronunciation though and choose a particular accent rather than mixing and matching because this will lead to misunderstandings for sure. There exists an idea of a generic or sterotypical British and American accent when there really is no such thing. Both countries have a multitude of different accents. If you are interested, I posted about British accents on my facebook page here.

Now go to this article to learn about motivation to learn English.

Do you have a plan for learning? A method? A system? Tell me how you learn English in the comments below.

Help for English Learners

Help for English Learners

You are Czech or Slovak, right? Learning English? Hmmm, I thought so 🙂

I’m Richard, a native British English speaker.

Improving your English is not just about learning grammar, studying books and taking exams. Firstly I believe it should be fun and have a purpose. That’s why I offer help for English learners starting with conversations about motivation, reasons for learning English and goals.  I’m not so much of an English teacher in the classic sense but more someone who coaches you to help yourself, listens to what you want and instructs and teaches where needed. See my previous posts here.

A scientific approach is my method and I like to use techniques that give you space and freedom to think for yourself; the only real way to learn anything properly.

“It’s not just what you know, but how you practice what you know that determines how well the learning serves you later.”
Peter C. Brown, Make It Stick
Today’s article is for intermediate and more advanced English learners. Those of you who would like some tips on improving your understanding when native speakers speak quickly. Let’s get started…

How do I better understand fast English speakers?

Well, that depends on whether you are listening to real people in the physical world or if you mean watching tv/listening to the radio etc. Also, if it’s real people, are you listening to engage in conversation with them or just to listen to what they say? Sometimes you have no option!

Quick tips for improving the speed of your listening comprehension

So, when you are listening to podcasts and cds or watching dvds or on demand video etc.  you obviously have the option to be able to pause and rewind to playback sections until you understand. If you use something like Audible for listening to audiobooks you have the option to slow down the speed. This is the key to learning to understand faster speech. How do you that? Read on..

Step 1 –

Start by listening through to a short section, maybe only a sentence or two. Try, and I know it’s hard, to NOT translate into your native language as you’re listening. Just listen for words you understand.

Step 2 –

Then listen again and try to pick out words that you may recognize but don’t know the meaning of. Write them down, find out their meanings and listen again. This is where zou may encounter a few of the dreaded phrasal verbs. Fear not, I will have an article for you soon on the most used phrasal verbs and the best way to memorize them.

Step 3 –

So now you should be starting to understand a little better but there are still parts that you can’t work out. Firstly, don’t stress about this because as a native English speaker I often find situations, usually in music, where I realize that, after 30 years of listening and singing along to a song, I was singing the wrong words! The reason for this is that English is a language that has such smooth connected speech that it’s difficult to pick out one word from another. This is why it is not recommended to learn vocabulary in single isolated words. Although sometimes it’s fine to learn a new word in isolation, it’s much better if you can learn new vocabulary in collocations (words that often go to together such as ‘Football match ‘ or ‘Best regards’. When you learn the word ‘best’ you hear it as b-e-s-t however in connected speech, in a collocation like ‘best regards’, the last letter T is usually dropped and what you hear is ‘besregards’. “Give my besregards to Jim”

Step 4 –

After you’ve had another listen and tried to work out some more of the connected speech you can then go ahead and look at the subtitles if available. Then as you continue your practice, begin to speed up the audio.

But what about listening to real people in the real world? telephone, fast English speakers, help for English

in the case of listening to real people whom you are actively engaging in conversation with, you have to ask them to slow down and repeat.

“Can you repeat that please?”

”Would you mind speaking a little slower please, it will give me a better chance of understanding you.”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t catch that, please could you say it again for me?”

if you’re talking to native English speakers and they don’t understand you they may use…

”say it again” but often. At least where I’m from in the north of England, it will sound like “sayagen”

The traditional and more polite version is “pardon?”

So, that’s a long answer but I hope it helps. I have a lot more help for learners of English here: Almost Everything You Need to Learn English.