FLUENT ENGLISH

Let's enjoy English!

The Final Pointers ~

91. The easiest one - Sleep! You’ll learn more after a good night’s sleep. You’ll be able to concentrate more.

92. Take an English course in an English speaking country.

93. If you studying abroad, mix with people from other countries not only people from your own country. It’s not a good idea for you to live in a shared house with people from your own country. Enjoy a more cultural experience by spending time with other nationalities.

94. Have you thought about getting a job or doing an internship abroad?

95. Get yourself a qualified teacher. Who wants to learn wrong things?

96. Nobody can learn all of the English language, so don't worry about trying to. A useful shortcut to learning is that in English we have lots of words that have the same pronunciation, but a different spelling and meaning. For example, ‘come here’ has the same pronunciation as, ‘I can hear the birds’. You might find it easier to build vocabulary by knowing the different meanings.

97. Once you have a basic level of English, explore the different ways you can say the same thing. This makes your English more interesting to the listener and it shouldn’t be too difficult for you because you already know the basics. For example, how many ways can we say, ‘Goodbye' in English?

98. When you are on your English course, be prepared for your class. Do your homework as soon as possible and hand it in on time. Review your notes and your last lesson a few minutes before the class. Doing this will refresh your memory and you'll be warmed up for lesson.

99. Don't get distracted in class. Focus on the lesson, don't stare out of the window. Don't be late, arrive a few minutes before the start of the lesson. Don't sit next to people who won't speak to you in English. Switch off your phone. Be organised, remember to take your textbook, notebook and pen.

100. Find a comfortable, peaceful place for quiet study. You need somewhere where you can focus 100%.

101. Last but not least, Learn English with the www.bbc.co.uk/learning & with me! ;-)


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TGIF Study Tips ~

Good Friday to everyone ~ here are a few more useful tips for you to help improve your learning ability...

71. It’s not enough to only learn English words. You can teach a parrot English words but that doesn’t mean it can speak English! You still need to have an understanding of grammar.

72. Verb tenses are used by English speakers to talk about the timing of actions. You might not have the same expressions in your own language. It’s important that you know these tenses and when to use them.

73. English has many irregular verbs. You should drill yourself on them.

74. Keep it going! If you take a break from speaking English, you will find that your level decreases and all your hard work has been wasted.

75. Don’t be put off by a bad test score. Sometimes students have the ability to pass an English test, but can’t communicate well with English speakers. If you can speak freely in English, you should be proud of yourself.

76. Remember that as long as you have tried your hardest, you have succeeded!

77. Learn English with a friend. You’ll have someone you can practice with and you can motivate each other to study.

78. Remember, the way we write English is not always the same as how it’s pronounced. For example ‘Ough’ has over 6 pronunciations. Familiarise yourself the Phonetic Alphabet. It will help you correctly pronounce words in the dictionary.

79. Get used to the ‘schwa’ sound [ə] - an unstressed and toneless neutral vowel sound. ‘Schwa’ is the most common vowel sound in English. For example, the 'a' in about and the 'u' in supply.

80. Keep in mind that it takes longer to improve when our level is high. Usually the fastest progress is made when we are beginners. Don’t think that you’re suddenly not learning anymore, it’s just a less noticeable progress.

81. Make sure that your English matches the occasion. It’s OK to use slang with friends but not in a business meeting. Decide in which situation it’s appropriate to use the words and phrases you have learned.

82. Textbook English is often different from the way we casually speak. To learn casual ‘slang’ watch movies.

83. Idioms can be difficult to memorise, but they are great fun to use and they’ll make your English more colourful.

84. When talking we usually link words together, so that two words can sound like one. Simply put, we link words ending with a consonant sound to words beginning with a vowel sound (consonant > vowel). We link words ending with a vowel sound to words beginning with a vowel sound (vowel > vowel). Practice these to improve your listening and pronunciation.

85. Make use of the internet. It’s full of resources to help you learn: BBC Learning English: www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/

86. Think about your strong and weak points. Write down which areas you want to improve on and work on improving them. Of course, don’t ignore your strong points. Congratulate yourself on how well you’ve done!

87. Unlearn your mistakes. You probably make the same grammar mistakes over and over again. Use English tests results as a study tool. Go over your mistakes and choose one or two that you want to focus on. Use your favourite grammar book to check rules.

88. Use the correct article (a/an, the). Be aware that there is more to this rule than a/an= non specific, the=specific. For example: A university (not an university because it begins with a consonant sound). An hour (not a hour because the ‘h’ is often silent).

89. For fluency, try image training. Before you go to that restaurant think through what the waiter is likely to say to you. Think of what phrases you are going to use.

90. Much communication comes through body language and gesture. These can be different between cultures and countries. For example, the two-fingered "V" for victory symbol is fine palms-out. If you make it with you palm facing toward you, you'll offend a British person. It means…well, you ask a British person and find out for yourself!

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Thursday's Learning Pointers ~

51. Don’t become too reliant on your dictionary. Your dictionary is an aid, not your teacher. Try to guess the meaning of words rather than going straight for your dictionary.

52. Don’t give up! Stay positive! Sometimes you will feel that you aren’t learning quickly enough ~ everyone feels like this (ME TOO), don’t worry about it. You’ll get there in the end.

53. Enjoy it! We learn more when we are having fun!

54. If you get nervous when speaking, take two deep breaths before you say something. You’ll speak better when you feel relaxed.

55. Keep yourself motivated by looking back at the textbooks and CDs you used in the past. You’ll be surprised at how easy they seem to you now! Congratulations, your level is improving!

56. You are never too young or too old to start learning English. Don’t make excuses not to learn. What are you waiting for?

57. Procrastination can stop you from being successful. To stop procrastinating, it's important you understand if your procrastinating is to avoid studying, or if it is your bad habit.

58. If you haven’t gotten the results you wanted yet, it’s not because you’re bad at languages, it’s because you haven’t found your own special way of learning yet.

59. Use resources which match your level. Don’t use texts/listening exercises which are too difficult or too easy. Use materials which challenge you but do not frustrate you!

60. Don’t worry about making your accent perfect. It’s an important part of your cultural identity to keep your accent. Native English speakers enjoy hearing English spoken with an accent.

61. Like I said before, there are many types of English: British, American, South African and so on. None of these are wrong or not as important. English is English. Choose your preferred style as your base but know them all, in order to increase your ability.

62. Instead, be aware of the differences in American and British English and use your words accordingly. For example: Elevator (US) / Lift (British).

63. Carry cue cards with you. These are small cards which you can write new words on. You can pull them out and look at them whenever you a free minute.

64. Use post-it notes and stick them around your home. You can use them to label things. Stick one on your pet dog!

65. You can’t ignore phrasal verbs (two words verbs), there are hundreds of them in English and they’re widely used. The more you focus on their meaning, the more you’ll be able to guess the meaning of new ones. You’ll start to recognise their patterns.

66. Use your intuition. Go with your gut feeling, you’ll be surprised how often your first guess is the right guess. Like we said before, be confident.

67. Gather your thoughts. Take a second to think about what you’re going to say. You know the grammar, but maybe you don’t use it correctly when you speak.

68. Meet new people. Make the effort to mix with English speakers in your town. You could join a club or go to bars where foreigners hang out. Buy one a drink, they will love that ~ be friendly and chat ~ it's that simple!

69. Be the person to start conversations in English. Try to keep the conversations moving and use listening words (‘really?’ / ‘go on…’/ ‘what happened then?’) Don’t wait for others to speak to you. Get in there!

70. Debate. Discuss topics in a group. Each person should choose a viewpoint (even if you don’t agree with it) and debate it within the group. Make sure you get your point across. Learn to listen actively. Active listening will help in the classroom and it will help you get more out of, and contribute more to group study sessions. Focus on the person who is talking. Don’t fidget or become distracted by other people or events. Concentrate on the speaker with your ears and eyes. Follow the movements the speaker makes in an effort to hear more. It may help to repeat what you hear others say in an effort to understand their thoughts.


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~ Bermuda Triangle in England! ~

Hello everyone ~

I wanted to share this 'interesting news', as it actually happened in the area around where I was born in the north of England (County Durham).

"Hundreds of racing birds have disappeared in unexplained circumstances after being released in the region.
Experts are baffled at the phenomenon ~ possible abnormally high rainfall, high levels of solar activity and even signals from a spy base are being blamed.
Pigeon fanciers have compared it to the disappearance of ships and aircraft in an area of the Atlantic bounded by Miami, Bermuda and Puerto Rico. But now the mystery centres on a geographical area encompassing Thirsk, Wetherby and Consett.
In the latest episode, only 13 out of 232 birds released in Thirsk last Saturday by a Scottish pigeon racing club made it back to Galashiels in the Scottish Borders."


Only 13 out of 232 came home -> VERY STRANGE! They weren't used for Sheppard's Pie, so where did they go ~ does anyone know???


~ Bermuda Triangle in England! ~

PLEASE, DRIVE SAFELY AND FLY SAFELY...!


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Tactful Tuesday ~

SOME MORE HELPFUL POINTERS ~> DO USE THEM ...

31. Learn prefixes (dis-, un-, re-) and suffixes (-ly, -ment, -ful), these will help you to figure out the meaning of words and build your vocabulary.

32. English, unlike Japanese or French, uses word stress. For new words, count the syllables and find where the stress is. Only one stress per word and always on a vowel. Two syllable verbs have a stress on the second syllable (beGIN). 2 syllable nouns (TEAcher) and adjectives (HAPpy) stress the first.

33. Use English whenever you can. It’s as simple as that!

34. Don’t translate into English from your own language. Think in English to improve your fluency. Talk to yourself…but not on the bus otherwise people will think you have gone crazy!

35. You can’t learn English from a book. Like driving a car, you can only learn through doing it.

36. The most natural way to learn grammar is through talking.

37. Keep an English diary or journal. Start by writing a few sentences each day and then get into the habit of writing more.

38. Why not start an online blog and share your writings with the world? IT'S GREAT PRACTICE!

39. To become a better writer, brainstorm as many ideas and thoughts onto paper without worrying about grammar or spelling, then think about the structure. After that, write your piece using good grammar and spelling. Finally, read it through or give it to someone else to check for mistakes.

40. Keep an eye on your punctuation, as it can totally change what you’re trying to say. Check out the difference in meaning between these two sentences: “A woman without her man is nothing” and “A woman: without her, man is nothing”.

41. Sing your heart out! Show the world your beautiful voice! Learn English songs and sing along with them to improve your fluency and intonation… anyone for Karaoke?

42. Get a penfriend or use chat-rooms, forums and community sites. If you can’t speak to someone in English, this is the next best thing.

43. Shadow English CDs. Listen to a few sentences then repeat what you heard. Focus on the rhythm and intonation.

44. Have English radio on in your house. Even if you are not actively listening to it, you will still be training your ears.

45. Mirror CDs. Read out loud along with a CD ~ this is great for intonation, pronunciation and rhythm.

46. Dictation. Listen to a CD or friend and write down what you hear.

47. Nobody likes to hear their own voice, but be brave and try it! Record your voice and listen to your pronunciation and intonation. It will help you to identify your problem areas.

48. Ask your teacher if you can record the lesson. This is a great way to review. You can also listen to your teacher's speaking speed and intonation.

49. Use an English/English dictionary as it will help you to keep thinking in English and not translating.

50. If an English/English dictionary seems scary, there are Learner’s dictionaries for English students of your level.


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Moist Monday ~

Ha ha ha -> now THAT is an understatement ~ checkout the 台風のくも: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-19386362

I am presently in Florida (“the Sunny State” of the USA) where we have a Tropical Storm going past the west coast, so it is ‘bucketing down’ (大雨!) right now (it has been since yesterday, and probably will for another day or so).

One definitely needs one’s “brolly” and “wellies” (umbrella and wellington boots if you don’t know these UK English terms). Even then, the wind is so gusty that you will get drenched!

Talking about the wet weather - most people think it always rains in the UK -> that is not true. Yes, more often than not it will be cloudy but not necessarily raining cats & dogs like it is here, right now.

Also, just so you know - 霧のロンドン does not exist! Yes, out in the hills in the beautiful countryside of England you will see ‘fog’ but it is not an everyday thing.

Today’s point being ~ keep dry and be safe, as typhoon season is now upon us. Don’t forget to have a ‘brolly’ with you and an extra handkerchief, just in case a lady needs one for a tear or to cover a dirty chair so she can sit down and rest ~ that is where a gentleman’s mind is ~

Stay dry friends ...


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Special Sunday ~

I have a change of plan for you today ~ I was going to give you some more useful suggestions that help your studies and yes, studying a little everyday is VERY IMPORTANT to help your constant progression in advancing forward to your goal. However, it is also important to treat yourself to something once-in-a-while for all the hard work that you are doing!

Whether that is a nice piece of chocolate cake or a trip to the cinema or buying that new CD you have wanted ~ do something for yourself today because you are studying and improving everyday and deserve a treat ~

GO HAVE A LOVELY DAY ...


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Super Saturday ~

Helpful Ways to Learn English 2

11. Plan to take a test. You’ll find that you work harder when you need to study for something.

12. Saying that, it’s better not to study just to take a test. Think of the bigger picture. What can you do when you have a good command of English? How will the quality of your life improve?

13. Give yourself a long term goal. Focus on working towards it.

14. Give yourself short term goals too and reward yourself when you achieve each one.

15. Create an atmosphere in which you want to learn, not because you have to. You’ll learn more when you’re learning because you want to.

16. Know what works best for you. Think about what methods have been successful for you in the past and stick with them.

17. Figure out how you learn. It can be by memorising, reading, speaking, summarising or other methods. Find out how you study best. It can be in a quiet place by yourself or with a group.

18. Get help! If you don’t understand something you’ve got to ask someone. Ask your teacher, classmates or friends for help.

19. Review! Review! Review! Make sure that you take the time to review things you have studied in the past.

20. It’s not a good idea to study on your own for more than 45 minutes at a time. Take regular breaks, get some fresh air and stretch your legs.

21. Don’t be in such a hurry to move up a level. Concentrate on the level you are at now.

22. Watch DVDs rather than TV. It’s better to use something that you can watch over again to catch information you might have missed the first time.

23. Watching TV only gives you the chance to hear something correctly first time. This is better for high level students. It can be great practice for speaking to native English speakers so you don’t have to ask them to repeat themselves!

24. Read graded books are especially written for your level. Read a whole novel. You can do it! You’ll feel great afterwards.

25. Children’s books have easier words and are a good alternative to graded readers.

26. Newspapers are a good place to find passive sentences ~ read through an article and see if you can find them.

27. Read for the general meaning first. Don’t worry about understanding every word, then go back and look up new words.

28. For a word you don’t understand in a sentence, look at the other words around it. They will give you a hint. Try to guess the meaning from the context.

29. Learn root words. They’ll help you guess the meaning of words. For example: scrib = write, min = small.

30. When you learn a new word, think of all its other forms: Beautiful (adjective), beauty (noun), beautifully (adverb).

More tomorrow ~ have a super day ...

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Fearless Friday ~

Helpful Ways to Learn English

Starting today, I will be giving you several ideas to help you (in no particular order) to improve your English:

1) Don’t be afraid to make mistakes & be confident ~ people can only correct your mistakes when they hear you make them ~ learn from mistakes.

2) Surround yourself in English. Put yourself in an all-English speaking environment where you can learn passively. The best way to learn is through speaking.

3) Practice every day. Make yourself a study plan. Decide how much time a week you are going to spend studying and stick to it. Establish a routine!

4) Tell your family and friends about your study plan. Get them to push you to study ~ also don’t let them interrupt you.

5) Practice the 4 core skills: speaking, listening, reading and writing. They all need to be worked on for you to improve.

6) Keep a notebook of new words you learn. Use them in sentences and try to say them at least 3 times when you speak.

7) Memorization of lists is one of the most common ways of learning vocabulary for a test. It's only a good exercise for short-term studying because you often do not retain the information that you learned for the test.

8) Use your ‘body clock’ ~ if you’re not a morning person, study in the afternoon.

9) You will find words easier to remember if you try to remember an example sentence using that word, rather the word on its own.


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Thoughtful Thursday ~

6. Pronounce the ending of each word.


Paying special attention to ‘-s’ and ‘-ed’ endings will make you sound much more proficient and help strengthen the mouth muscles that you use when you speak English.




7. Read aloud in English for at least 15 minutes every day.


This daily practice not only helps with a more ‘natural’ tone when you read and speak but also helps develop strong mouth muscles for improved speaking ability.
Find something you enjoy reading – especially if it has a lot of dialogue, and read it aloud -> this is great practice!


8. Record your own voice and listen for pronunciation mistakes.


Many people hate to hear the sound of their own voice however, this is a very important exercise because doing it will help you become conscious of the mistakes you are making.


9 Be patient.


Things won’t happen overnight ~ people want instant results and often give up too soon. You can and will change the way you sound and the way you speak, if you are willing to put some time and effort into it ~ let’s make it happen ...


10. Know which version of English you intend to speak.


Various versions of the English language exist. Begin by identifying the category you fall into and start by improving the clarity of your speech ~ whether it is a proper BBC-style or more of a casual American or other style. Use this as your base but also listen to other dialects in order to broaden your knowledge - the more you understand, the better you will be ~


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Wise Wednesday ~

A few great learning tips ~ put them to good use ...

1. Observe the mouth movements of great English speakers and try to imitate them.


When watching TV or people in real-life conversation, observe their mouth movements, repeat what they are saying, imitate the intonation and rhythm of their speech.




2. Listen to English music, television and movies to get familiar with the language sounds.


This is extremely helpful and a fun way to improve your English. Also listen to the volume of their voices depending on the situation - remember that loud volume sometimes indicates aggressiveness or anger in certain situations. Watch the English news like the BBC or CNN (if you want American English). The news is very helpful because their speech must be clear, concise and objective – however, keep in mind they do not hold a great amount of emotion in their voices because it is after all, The News.





3. Use the dictionary.


Familiarise yourself with the phonetic symbols of your dictionary. Look up the correct pronunciation of words that are hard for you to say. Write down words and their definitions in a notebook for future reference – they may come in handy!




4. Make a list of frequently used words that you find difficult to pronounce and ask someone who speaks the language well to pronounce them for you.


Record these words, listen to them and practice saying them. Listen and read at the same time - this helps a lot.




5. Buy books on tape/CD.


GREAT EXERCISE ~ Record yourself reading some sections of the book, then compare the sound of your English with that of the person reading the book on the tape/CD.

MORE TOMORROW ...


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Terrific Tuesday ~

Just a quickie ~ forget all the everyday worries of hardship and dilemmas and confusion of text books etc etc, and just go back to the ‘basics’ of listening and learning. That is how you learned to speak your native language; listening and repeating and understanding the meaning, then putting it to use.

Do the same with English and everything will sound so much more natural and be easier than you thought.

Don’t compare it to Japanese for example ~ learn English, think English, speak English ...


Have a Terrific Tuesday ~


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Merry Monday ~


So you’re on the go ~ if you want today to be a mundane day, that is up to you but make it ‘Merry’, make it a special day, make it fun ~ surprise people and greet everyone all day with a smile --> IN ENGLISH!

Have you got the ‘Sassy’ boldness to do it? - > just try it and have some fun . . . English really is easy

BE MERRY ~

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Sassy Sunday ~

OK, why ‘sassy’ you ask -> it is after all Sunday, and most people tend to think of Sunday as being a day of rest and relaxing. Well, that may be true if you work Monday~Friday but someone needs to be at your favourite store, at the train station (and driving the train), welcoming people at Disney Land etc etc. So for a lot of folk (‘people’ if you didn’t know that word) who are being BOLD and STRONG and GO-GETTERS and STUDYING HARD, “Sassy Sunday” is just right for you ~

So recently I have been commenting and asking you to ask yourself about your ‘Goals’ for learning and speaking English ~ is it to communicate well with foreign guests at work, cause you have a pen-friend in England, or you want to be on TV as an announcer or a radio DJ, to play with your neighbour’s kids or to improve your resume for your next job? Whatever it is, WRITE YOUR GOAL and next to it write a date by when you want to be there. Then, simply work backwards in a time-frame until today, so you can plan what things you need to do and how.

Doing this will give you results by the date you set or may be even earlier; plan for success ~ without a plan, you plan to fail!

I can’t make you want it, YOU have to be Strong, be Bold, be Forward with your ‘wants’ and you WILL GET THERE ~> IT’S SASSY SUNDAY . . .

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Super Saturday ~

Today’s lessons brought inspiration to me in that both students had worked hard to study and practice, thus they were enjoying the results of what they have studied and practiced and are using it everyday in the their lives, and are so glad they did!

This just goes to show that your hard-earned efforts do pay-off, and making your studies into a fun hobby definitely make your journey to fluency more enjoyable.

Relating to that, let’s make today (and everyday) a super fun day ~

Here are a few more jolly idioms to play with:

“it stands to reason”
You can say it stands to reason that something should be so if it seems reasonable to you that it should be so.

“a shot in the arm”
You can say something is a shot in the arm if it gives a person or an organization renewed energy or enthusiasm.


“a sight for sore eyes”
If something or someone is a sight for sore eyes, you are glad to see them.


“a skeleton in the cupboard/closet”
If you have a skeleton in the cupboard, or in the closet, you have a secret in your past which could damage you if it became known.


“a slap on the wrist”
If someone gives you a slap on the wrist, they give you a mild punishment for making a mistake or doing something wrong.


“a slip of the tongue”
If you make a slip of the tongue, you make a small mistake when speaking.


“safe and sound”
If you are safe and sound, nothing has harmed you even though you could have been in danger.


“save the day”
If you save the day, you do something to ensure success or to solve a serious problem.


“see eye to eye”
If you see eye to eye with someone, you totally agree with them about something.

Use them, as they will enhance your speaking ability a tremendous amount . . .



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More fun ~

Some more idioms for you to use and have fun with ...

'Keep your pecker up' Remain cheerful - keep your head held high.

'Burning the Candle at Both Ends' Working for many hours without getting enough rest

'Eyes are bigger than your belly' Think you can eat more than you can
'My eyes were bigger than my belly, I couldn't eat every thing I had put on my plate'

'Sleep Tight' Have a good nights sleep

'Stone the crows' An exclamation of annoyance

'Tie the Knot' Get Married

'Talk the hind legs off a donkey' A person who is excessively or extremely talkative can talk the hind legs off a donkey.

'I'll put the Kettle on' Let me make you a cup of tea


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Fun Idioms ~

Two of my three students today were asking about idioms, as we used a couple during the lesson ~> who knows these?

“Put hair on your chest” (something that is manly - you would have to be a man if you could eat or drink this )
&
“A spoon could stand up in it!” - the coffee is that strong that a spoon could stand up in it!

If you "um and ah" you're having trouble deciding what to say, or you're having trouble telling somebody something.

If you're taking the mickey out of someone, or taking the mick out of them, you're making fun of them or copying their behavior for a laugh.

If something is right up your street, it would be perfect for you or ideal for your skills and interests.

If you make a song and dance about something, you make a big deal out of or a fuss over something that isn't very important.

Go ahead, have some fun and use them (more another time) ...


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This will dramatically help!

OK, this is simple and to-the-point, and will dramatically help not only your English conversation but your overall outlook on learning anything ...

Which is easier ~ learning 'cause you have to' or learning 'because it is fun, enjoyable and useful'? YES, IT IS THAT SIMPLE!

Previously in one of my Blogs I talked about a 'mind shift' ~ this may simply be a change of thought from 'have to' to 'want to':

"I have to study this/learn this for a test" = :-(

"I want to practice this, so I can speak better and communcate easier" = :-)

Both of these results will benefit you in the end but that simple mentality-change will take a lot of pressure off learning and make it more fun and enjoyable.

I want you to enjoy the journey of learning, as it is fun and there is a beautiful view awaiting for you ...

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Gestures work ~

I thought this would be an interesting example to share, as you can easily put it to good use...

Yesterday I mentioned about how easy and how well you can use a few words and phrases and be very natural-sounding with your English.

An example; today I was baby-sitting my friend’s kids (three boys; 7, 9 & 10) and they kept asking questions (this helps a LOT to make a good conversation) about the cPRIME bands I have and wear, as they play basketball and a very famous professional player (Dwight Howard and others) wears one. They wanted to try it ~ and so we were trying them and then chitty-chatting about things but my point is this: 7, 9 and 10 year-old children do not have the greatest knowledge of grammar and only know a few different phrases but they can still have good conversations. By using gestures and emotions combined with these phrases made the conversation time well spent and enjoyable!

So ~ think it, feel it, share it with some gestures, and you will enjoy great conversations ~ you can do it ~ go talk with the world...


Robin

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YOU CAN DO IT ~

Hello, hello ~ Yes, I am back ~ did you miss me?

I returned from an amazing event in Orlando (I mean AMAZING) ~ I am very ecstatic and bubbly ‘n bouncy, as I learned so much -> therefore who knows what I might say today - ha ha!

Well, something important showed up again with a couple of new students and I just had to mention it, as this helps such a lot!

I had mentioned about NOT thinking in Japanese in a previous Blog. Yes, your mind wants to think quickly and easily have a conversation by simply ‘sharing’ and 'asking' things and not have to be a hardworking ‘simultaneous interpreter’ (I have done that and it is a very strenuous and tiring thing to do).

A lot of people tend to ‘think’ in their mother-tongue (Japanese in this case) and then TRY to change that into English before they speak it = very hard and very tough and v e r y s l o w -> so don't do it! Constant practice will eventually trigger 'automatic mechanisms' in your mind and so you will start to speak "IN ENGLISH" without having to think for the Japanese equivalent word.

You do not need to try to make detailed and always grammatically correct intellectual conversation all the time - hey, even I have that difficulty ;-) The easiest and best way is to simply know and use a few words and phrases, mix them up, jumble them around and add a smile and a facial expression once in a while = A GREAT CONVERSATION! We are not all the Chief Science Professor at Cambridge University, so tremendous data in such miniscule detail in every sentence is not necessary. A few greetings and questions and smiles and gestures will get you a long way -> much faster, much better and much easier.

YOU CAN DO IT ... !

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practice, Practice, PRACTICE ...


Just a quickie, as I am leaving for Orlando (unfortunately a ‘seminar’ not to play with Mickey but learning is a good thing) ~ continue your studies, your practicing, your enjoyment, as YOU ARE IMPROVING -> you are better than last month, you are better than last week, so keep it up and I’ll see you in a couple of days

Robin

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THIS WILL HELP #2 ...

Continuing from yesterday with points and suggestions to help YOU ~

Ask yourself the following questions, and be honest:

Why do you need to learn/improve English?
Where will you need to use English?
What skills do you need to learn/improve? (Reading/Writing/Listening/Speaking)
How soon do you need to see results?
How much time can you afford to devote to learning English?
How much money can you afford to devote to learning English?
Do you have a plan or learning strategy?


Set yourself achievable goals:

You know how much time you can dedicate to learning English ~ like I mentioned yesterday, a short time each day will produce better, longer-term results than a full day on the weekend and then nothing for two weeks.


Here are some goals you could set yourself:

Do your homework.
Read a book or a comic every month.
Learn a new word every day.
Read a news article on the net every day.
Do 10 minutes listening practice every day.
Watch an English film at least once a month.
Follow a soap opera, comedy, TV drama or radio program.


Decide on a reward you will give yourself for fulfilling your goals for a month:

A bottle of your favourite drink
A meal out / or a nice meal at home
A new outfit
A new toy
A manicure or massage


Rewarding yourself is very important to show how hard you are working!

Doing these things will help a lot ~ making a plan REALLY WORKS . . . !


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THIS WILL HELP ...

THIS IS A VERY IMPORTANT MIND-SHIFT -> make learning English your hobby and make it fun!

Also, you need to do something everyday ~ it doesn’t matter what; listening & repeating CDs, reading, watching a movie, meeting with some gaijin friends for a chat, etc ~ it doesn’t matter what you are doing, the important thing for your growth is to keep doing something everyday and make it fun!

These little daily activities will take on a compound effect to give you great results later on.

Another thing that people tend to want (me included ;-) is to be able to speak fluently NOW ~ sorry to give you the Six o’clock News headline but it doesn’t happen like that. This is a journey, and by doing it daily and making things ‘fun’, will make that journey so much more enjoyable. Yes, sometimes there will be bumps in the road or a rain shower along the way but it is a journey worth taking ~ enjoy the ride ...

More useful points tomorrow ~

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THIS HELPS A LOT ... !

Hello and good morning, afternoon or evening depending on when you are reading this helpful comment.

Today has been an interesting combination of teaching styles; one American who wants to learn Japanese and also a couple of Japanese people learning English. Something happened in the Japanese lesson that I shared with my English students and it helped them a lot, so I wanted to pass it on to you to use . . .

My American/Spanish student - who knows nothing about the Japanese language or beautiful culture - is excessively 'verbal' in his expressions and actions making it easy and interesting to hear him speak. He was surprised when I was explaining how Japanese pronunciation is very monotone. "What?" "Why?" って聞いてても I don't know the reason 'why' -> it just is!

So looking at the other side of the coin ~ my Japanese students were actually speaking English in a monotone-way. I shared this example with them and it helped, making a huge difference . . .

I read/said this phrase to them in a couple of different ways;

"I am really happy about how well it went."

1) MONOTONE: "I am really happy about how well it went."
2) WITH EXPRESSION: "I am REALLY HAPPY :-) about how WELL it went!"

Which one do you think they liked better? #2 duuuh!

I explained to them that in English your 'expression' makes a such a BIG difference to your conversation/communication ability. Your actual vocabulary knowledge level may not be that 'high' but people will think you speak really well when you add expression into your conversation.

IT WORKS, so do try it out and you will have instant success ~ let me know the reaction people have ~

Robin

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DEDICATION!

Let me ask you this ~ How dedicated are you to ...

~ improving your English?
~ writing better?
~ speaking more naturally?
~ being fluent?

What are you doing everyday to make that result happen?

Are you spending 1 hour everyday doing this?
Are you spending 1 hour per week or 15 minutes every 2 weeks? Anything and everything is fine BUT you need to decide what you are wanting, by when you are wanting it, and then make the dedication to make that happen.

This goes for everything in your life; family, relationships, English, Russian, cooking, guitar, work, health, whatever you want to do. As an example - > you want to be fit and healthy, that’s great but going to the gym once a month and still eating junk food will not make that happen. The thought and desire are there but you must add the determination and dedication to make it happen . You will get much better and faster results by dedicating a little time everyday -> 1 hour everyday is so much better than 7 hours once a week!

Think about the things you want and make that dedication to get the results that you want ...


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HERE WE GO AGAIN . . .

(I’ve put a few ‘very English’ terms in today’s notes, so see if you understand them all)

I am not a TV-watcher ~ I know the names of popular shows but don’t really know who is in them or what they are about ~ but hey, ‘the Olympics is the Olympics’ so watching a little now and then is fine, right!?!

Well, I turned on the ‘telly’ today to see Murray & Federer playing tennis ~ “Blimey, they’re showing a ‘replay’ of Wimbledon!” is what I initially thought. Then I saw they weren’t in the traditional ‘tennis white’ but blue for England and red for Switzerland.

If you didn’t catch a glimpse of the game but you like tennis, do try to get hold of a recording of the game. They both played a good match, though Murray clearly deserved to win the Gold Medal ~ CONGRATULATIONS!

So how did your week start? I hope all is hunky dory and that you will have a terrific week.

Cheerio for now ~

Robin


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THIS HELPS ...

So how do you think the thousands of Olympic athletes from all over the world in the UK right now are communicating with the British people? Is it because of their good understanding of grammar? Is it because they know how to spell well? It is because they're great and know 500 different phrases to use? NO, NO, NO!!!

This is the easiest way of communicating well --> know and use a few simple phrases, mix them up now and again, add a few gestures and a happy smile = a great conversation!

Your mind does not have to be like the Encyclopedia Britannica and you do not need a TOIEC score of 990 to be able to speak naturally or fluently. Like I said, just know and use a few simple phrases, mix them up, add a few gestures and your jolly smile AND THIS EQUALS a great conversation!

To speak better English, you need to ‘think in English’ -> simple and natural is best => GOT IT!?!

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WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?

Now that is a good question to ask yourself.

As the Olympics is running (no pun intended) ~ think on this ~ as it can be related to your studies, your job, your own business, your whole life ...

Olympic athletes train all-day, everyday for 4 years in order to be at their best performance-level for a few brief moments of hopeful glory. And then when that race/competition is over they either go home to find a job or start training again. This ‘constant training/learning’ is a good thing when you have a more permanent result and reason for your efforts.

Studying long and hard with dedication given to practice, WILL leave you with good long term results of a more natural capability.

Use the right tools, use good people, be like a sponge and your dedication to growth in understanding and communication ability will reach Gold . . .

Believe in you ~

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I SEE IT ALL THE TIME ...

This is rolling off my tongue as we speak ~ I have just finished a lesson with a new student and I am seeing the same thing again and again, and thought that I should comment on it to help you...

You need to get out of the old school-style type of speaking, as that is NOT based on 'conversation' but on written English and having correct grammar. We actually speak to each other instead of writing letters, so you do not need to have formal or correct grammar knowledge when having a conversation with someone -> use your emotions and gestures with a few phrases, and you will be speaking fluently pretty soon if you use that way ~

Get out of the mind and into the Heart ~ share your thoughts and express when you have an emotion, as these will make conversation so much more smooth and "natural".

Please give me feedback and comments on your main difficulties ...


Robin


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LISTENING QUIETLY ~


Today is a short but helpful few words to improve your listening ability ...

I don’t know about you but today was a wild and wicked Wednesday for me - finally getting to sit down and relax for a few minutes before bed - as I have been on-the-run since early this morning (yep, I am sure you have ‘those days’, too).

So I am wanting to sit down and relax -> when it struck me => the mind is at its most learnable in the morning after a good, long sleep and when you are sitting down and relaxing.

That being said, these times are good to play CDs/listen to the radio, as your mind will absorb much more -> try listening like this for a few nights in a row and then one day actually sit down when you are in a ‘study mode’, go over it all again => you will be amazed at how much easier and how much more you retain.

GIVE IT A TRY ...


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