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Doing English

Imagine this ー

Gordon Ramsay comes to your house and offers to cook dinner.

He’ll cook anything you want, he says. Just give me the recipe and I’ll do it. There he is, waiting, top-notch cooking utensils in one hand, a cocky attitude in the other.

And you’re thinking….

What to ask the one-and-only, the great Ramsay G to cook?

Then you’ve got it!

You give him the recipe your crazy aunt made up.

“I’d like a cabbage and fish-paste pizza, topped with banana, please, boiled, not oven-baked.”

Gordon tells you to fuck off and goes home. And rightly so. You’ve set him up for failure. Even a culinary genius like Gordon Ramsay can’t make a nice meal with a recipe like that. You’ve asked for something utterly, utterly disgusting. He could spend the next month working on that pizza and it’d still be horrible.

Now, imagine I come to your house and offer to cook. You might not be quite so excited. I am, after all, a shit cook. But if you asked me for, say, a classic bangers ‘n’ mash in onion gravy, or bacon and cabbage (my favourite at the moment) or even a chicken curry? Yeah, I’d be able to do you something pretty decent. Not because I’m a master chef like Ramsay but because the RECIPE is good.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

In order to improve in English, two things have to happen.

Learning, and doing.

When it comes to cooking, the recipe is the base ー what the food is supposed to look and taste like.

And if your recipe is a boiled cabbage, fish and banana pizza?

You’re doomed.

In terms of English learning materials, this means putting the right English in your head.

Because if you’re learning the wrong thing?

No amount of practise is going to help you to speak fluently and naturally.

This email is getting long, so I’ll return to this topic tomorrow.

But in the meantime, the next book in my “Advanced English” series is up for pre-order.

Materials Matter: How to choose the right English learning materials to improve fast and avoid filling your head with garbage.

It’ll be out on January 2nd, and if you pre-order you’re getting a whole £1 off the full price (if you pre-order five copies you’ll save enough for a pint of Guinness!).

Here’s the place to pre-order.


P.S. You need to get three things to improve rapidly…

  1. Method (there are good methods and shit methods)
  2. Materials (learn the wrong thing, and it’s all a waste of time).
  3. Mindset (what you don’t do will never help you).

See if you can guess what the NEXT book after Materials Matter will be about…

In the meantime.

P.P.S. Big day today —

Kids started their new school… what what an experience that was…

… a story for tomorrow, though, I think.

In the meantime.