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.

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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.

The Most Common Mistakes You Make.

The Most Common Mistakes You Make.

So, you’ve got a lecture or class to take in English next week. Maybe you’ve got an interview coming up for a job that requires English. You want to improve your basics fast and cut out those silly mistakes so you don’t sound like an idiot. What about those English emails at work? They aren’t going to correct themselves and you told your boss you can speak and understand English, right?

You need to know two things. One, what are the mistakes you’re making. Do you know? I bet you know some of them, but others you are not even aware of. Two, how do you correct those mistakes and bad habits (like forgetting to put an S on the end of verbs for he/she/it etc.) and how do you remember them?

Now, you know me. I like mistakes, it shows that you’re trying and not afraid. That’s great  of course, but, if you really want to improve quickly, one thing you can do is correct a few of those nejběžnější chyby v angličtině. I’m sure I made plenty of mistakes in my last post, which I wrote in Czech.

Luckily for you, over the last five years I have made notes on the most common mistakes that my students make and I’ve made a great, online, video course to help you correct many of those English mistakes. You can sign up for the mini course for FREE here and find out about your most common mistakes and how to fix them. Enter your email and I’ll send you the link. Entry is via email link only so sign up now or you might miss out.

Today, I’m going to focus on one of your most common mistakes. Confusing when to use come and go, and came, got and went.  An example of a typical mistake would be when we are sitting in a cafe and you say to me, “I came home from work at 6pm yesterday.” This is wrong because we are not in your home, we are in a cafe and where you are dictates which verb to use. You could remember to ‘come here’ and ‘go there’ but it’s not as simple as that.

In order to ‘come’ you usually need to be in the place you are referring to. I came home at ten yesterday.’ This means you are at home now.

If you are not at home we would naturally say ‘I got home at ten yesterday. (not ‘I came home’) but you can also use got if you are at home.

Of course, this being English, there are exceptional cases. If I have planned to meet some friends in a restaurant and I also want to invite you, I would say ‘Why don’t you come and join us? Or, ‘Come to the restaurant tomorrow.’ In this instance I am not in the restaurant now but I am planning to be there before you arrive and you will therefore come to meet me.

However, if you are talking about the time that you left somewhere (not the time you arrived home) then we would use went. ‘I was at the party but I went home (left the party) at midnight.’

go-sign-16620If you want to send somebody somewhere (away) and you will not be with them then use go. ‘Go to the cinema on your own, I don’t like Star Wars.’ (not come to the cinema). If you are inviting me to go with you to the cinema then you can use either come or go. ‘Will you come/go to the cinema with me tomorrow?’

Compare these similar situations:

‘Will you come to my house for the party next week?’ (I will be there)

‘Will you go to my house to pick up my keys please?’ (I have forgotten my keys. I left them at home. I am not there now and I will not be there when you get there to pick up the keys.

‘I went home at 11.’ (You are not at home now and you are talking about the time you left somewhere else)

‘I came home at 11.’ (You are at home now)

‘I got home at 11.’ (You could be either at home or not at home)

If you want it explained in Czech, HelpforEnglish.cz has a good explanation here.

Next week, ‘What are the best ways to correct your most common mistakes and other ways to learn?’ video-player-richard-hill-english

I’ll talk again about learning styles and if you liked today’s content but prefer video to reading then take my FREE Most Common Mistakes Mini Course. Remember, admission to this free course is available to everyone on my email list but you need to sign up for it by sending me an email from this box below. I will send you the link when the course opens in the next few days.

I know that you will get massive value from this course and it will benefit you in many ways, not least, making your English sound a little more native, smoother and more intelligible.

That’s all from me for today. Remember, ‘every day’s a school day’ so let me learn from you by telling me what you think are the most common mistakes Czechs and Slovaks make when speaking English. Leave a comment below and sign up for the course above.

Richard.

Muj Špatný Češtinu

Muj Špatný Češtinu

Pamatujete že ja jsem Anglický rodilý mluvčím?  Tak že, tadz mám problěm protože dneska musím napsát vaše blog v Čestině. Asi, ne, určitě, poynáte že muj řada slovu je jako Anglickz.

Ahhh… musím vzpnout 4esk7 kl8visnice kvůli muj y a z je správný.

Pokračuju… Zkouším napsát bez používajici slovník i překládač tak uvidíme jestli umíte mi rozumět. A, proč udělám Český blog kdzž vždycky psám v Angličtině?  Odpovězda je ukázat že nemusíte být perfektní být rozumění.

Jestli vaše gol je být rozumění je to duležitý jenom že máte důvěra zkoušit ynova a znova (Sakra!)  Mnohu Český lidi vubec říct ani nic protože “to není perfekt”, “to není dobrý”. Slište mě! ear-clip-art-McLLy6RXiNe bude lepšit bez zkoušení. Nevadí jak špatně vás Angličký jazýk, většinu rodilý mluvčí vy pomoc s trpělivostem.

Dneska ten blog bude krátký protože pro mě napsát na počitač trvalo mi hodně dlouhá. Měl jsem nějáký knihy se učit Česky ale pro mě nefungovat. Ja vím že dělám hodně chyby. Máte nějaký jiný nápady pro mě? Doufám že ano. Dolu mužete mi pomoc v commentsu. Dík. 🙂

Přes přístí dva týdnu budu napsát o vaše nejběžnější chyby a jak je opravit. Těšte se na videa mini kurz Zdarma.

Dolu řeknete mi co myslíte co je nejběžnější chyby.

Čau for now.

P.S. Mužete mi  sledovat kliknutím na FOLLOW.

 

3 Ways to Boost Your English Confidence

3 Ways to Boost Your English Confidence

It seems to me that every Czech person can speak at least a few words of English even if that is only ‘Hello, how are you, I’m fine thanks, goodbye’. So why is it that many of you are scared, too shy or even ashamed to use the English you already know? (Note that there is a difference between shy and ashamed) So what can you do about it? How can you overcome your shyness or reluctance to speak English?

Click here to go to my vocabulary.com list of words for this article.

Improving your spoken English and your ability to understand other English speakers requires you to practise, a lot. So, putting yourself in situations where you have to listen to and speak English is certainly one way of doing it. This takes courage though, and that means overcoming your fears. So what are your fears? Do you think you will be laughed at? Misunderstood?  Make mistakes?

embarrassed emo

Growing your confidence is the key thing. Here are three ways you can do that..

1. Allow yourself to make mistakes and try new things.

School teachers, peers, and for most of us, our parents, started from a very early age to point out our mistakes and chastise us for making them without thinking of the future consequences this has on young children. We are conditioned to feel bad when we make a mistake and not to use it as a learning experience (which is exactly what it should be).

I may be wrong here but I would suggest that your shyness or fear to speak English comes from your upbringing. As a child were you given red Xs in your school books, shouted at or worse and generally made to feel very stupid for not knowing something?  Addressing these issues to conquer your fears is the way to building your confidence and allowing yourself to speak and understand more.

teacher-strict

If your English teacher is someone who tells you off for making mistakes, I would consider looking for someone new to help you. You want a person who will pleasantly explain your mistakes and help you to practise corrections a few times. If you are consistently making the same mistakes, take some time to look at each one individually and work on it until you feel confident you have corrected it.

Subscribe to this blog using the ‘Follow’ button on the left.

You should also be going outside of your comfort zone in terms of the vocabulary and grammar you use. Yes, you can stick to the same words and phrases you already know but it’s much more exciting and rewarding to try out new things and not be scared to make mistakes when doing so. I know this personally from learning your Czech language.

embarrassed-chimp

2. Put yourself in situations where you have to speak.

This could be finding someone to practise with; a native English speaker (anyone English, American, Canadian, Australian, Irish or from New Zealand) or someone who speaks English as a second main language like Indians, Mexicans and many Africans. You will of course encounter many different accents and dialects within this diverse group of people. My wife has excellent English precisely because she worked in a pub in Cambridge, England where there were Americans and Irish people as well as others from all over the UK with very different accents (yours truly included). So that’s two more ways you can go out of your comfort zone; visit a native country for an extended period of time or go to one of the many Irish and English pubs in the Czech Republic’s bigger cities. If you already have a native English teacher then why not practise what you learn on other natives who you will usually find happy to tell you about their homeland.

shy-man

3. Ask for help.

This can come in two forms; firstly, ask people to slow down and repeat things if you don’t understand what they are saying and secondly, ask them for specific words that you don’t know by using alternative words to describe it. Don’t stop at just using the word once though, repeat the word aloud a few times and use it again in the same conversation to help it stick. As soon as you can, write it down and think of a mnemonic for it; a drawing or visual image or put the word/phrase into a poem or song. If you don’t know about mnemonics go here to find out.

confidence cat lion

If you follow these three steps you will soon notice a big difference in your ability. You should become more fluent, more confident and even take pride in your level of English, whatever stage you are at.

So why do you think you are shy or embarrassed to speak the English you know?

Let me know in the comments below and subscribe to this blog using the ‘Follow’  button on the left.