The Doing English Blog

I’ll never forget my first time. No, not THAT first time. The first time I attended a conference. It was aaallllllll the way back in 2012. I’d just started my PhD (yes, I’ve been doing it that long…). I finished my office job for the day and got on the train in my business suit [...]

Got an interesting question today: When to use difficult words in English? The answer to this is pretty simple. Use them when it’s appropriate and beneficial to use them. Simple right? Well, kinda… You see, here’s the big mistake you might be making… You’re thinking waaaaaaaaay to much about yourself. The things you want to [...]

I speak Japanese pretty well. Yes, yes. I know. I’m as humble as I am handsome. But that doesn’t mean I’m perfect. Ohhhhh, no. Even after being in Japan almost 12 years, learning and using the language every day sometimes I still totally mess up. Like today. My sons both have a cold. And guess [...]

Do you ever wonder about the origins of words? That is, their etymology. Recently I was in Manila. The major language of the Philippines is Tagalog, which apparently comes form the word “tagá-ilog” — or “people of the river”. Which got me interested… Where does “English” come from? Logically you’d think it comes from the [...]

Why are there so many accents in the UK? The UK has 56 main accent types. We say “main”, because, within each accent type, there are also loads of sub-accents. Meaning there are loooooads more than 56. These regional differences developed because of the historical way the English language itself developed. Up until the middle [...]

The simple answer is, yes… … but it’s very rare. The slightly longer answer is no. Not normally. Bar some form of brain damage or very extreme circumstances. And it depends on what you mean by “forget” and how much you’re forgetting. Right. The technical term for forgetting—or losing—your native language is “First-language Attrition” And [...]

There’s a saying in English: “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” How important is who you know? And whether right or wrong, the answer is probably, “Very”. Anecdotally I know this to be true. When I was new to academia and WANTED a university teaching job, I applied for around 20 positions [...]

Why do you study English? I learned Japanese for a very simple reason — Jealousy. It was 2007. I’d been in Tokyo a few weeks. I was looking for a job in art. My wife’s friend introduced me to someone she knew. Tom. Tom worked for Takashi Murakami. Murakami is a HUGE name in art. [...]

Why do we have conversations? As human beings conversation is important. Nobody can deny that. Even the most introverted of us need conversation. But what’s not quite so obvious… … is why. You might be tempted to think it’s all about exchanging information. And this is partly true… but still not quite right. The Evolutionary [...]

Fact: Advanced English does not an advanced speaker make. One of the big mistakes people make when trying to improve their English is to think to become “advanced”, they need to learn and use “advanced English”. Have a watch of this: I once had a student who had a perfect score on the TOEIC test. [...]

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