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Doing English

“If I start praying at an English church will I learn effectively? Considering that I’ll be among native English speakers.”

in Doing English Podcast

And the dumb question award goes to:

“If I start praying at an English church will I learn effectively? Considering that I’ll be among native English speakers.”

When I see stuff like this I freeze.

I actually can’t work out if this is meant seriously…

… or if it’s a joke.

But then, anyone wanting to pray in a church must be more than a little delusional, so I’ll give the person the benefit of the doubt?


Here’s what will happen:

You’ll get good at praying at an English church.

That’s it.

Nothing else.

At least the person didn’t ask if praying to God would help them improve their English (got a funny story on that; ask me in the bar, one day).

See, the question shows a fundamental misunderstanding ー

“Considering I’ll be among native English speakers”

Surrounding yourself with native speakers won’t help you improve your English, or indeed do anything. It’s simply a state of existence. It has no relevance to what you become. It’s like me saying, “If sit in a bakery all day will I become a cake, considering I’m surrounded by cakes?” Makes no sense whatsoever, right?

Surrounding yourself with native speakers increases the opportunity to use English. But you’re not going to magically become a great English speaker because of it.

Neither is it necessary to be among native speakers.

In fact, if you’re worried about needing to be among native speakers… you’re totally and utterly missing the point and getting it all wrong.

On the 24th (that’s two days from now) my now legendary MEFA course will open up to another group of 30 trainees. There’ll be several bonuses for people who join in the first couple of days.

But you need to be on the Priority Notification List:

Accelerate Your English Learning by Getting the First 90 Days Right


Why Good English Practise is Like Good Sex

in Doing English Podcast

Here’s a small taste of what we do in MEFA.

Week 3 all about the “Two Track Approach”.

This is, as one member, José, put it, a “paradigm shift” in thinking.

We split your English learning into two very clear, very distinct periods of time. A short period of high intensity, followed by as much relaxed use and exposure as possible. Simple. But effective.

But what exactly is “intensive learning”?

Good question

In a nutshell, it’s exactly that.

Hard, focused, intense study.

The kind of thing that leaves you exhausted and your brain feeling like jelly.

In anything, there are people who get good. And people who get extraordinarily good. And it won’t surprise you to hear that there has been a lot of research done on this. And this research shows that there is a subtle, but very important difference in the way people who become remarkable learn and practise.

Take pro violinists.

In 1993 Anders Ericsson, Ralf Krampe and Clemens Tesch-Römer decided to try and find out why some violinists become good, but others become REMARKABLE. They found that all of them spend a lot of time learning and practising their art.

That probably doesn’t surprise you much.

But here’s the important thing —

People who reach an extraordinary level practise a lot in a very, very intense, focused way.

And that’s the key.

While most people are busy fucking around taking conversation lessons and mindlessly chatting about their weekend and forming all kinds of bad habits, the people who get REALLY good are busy focusing on the stuff that really matters, and drilling their English deep into their long-term memory.

To be blunt, conversation lessons (or “talking to practise”) are a totally pointless endeavour, by the way… if you want to chat, have a real conversation with someone. You get good at what you do. And if you spend all your time learning to speak with someone who is paid minimum wage to pretend they understand or even give a shit about what you’re saying when actually they’re praying you’ll shut up and leave early… well, that’s what you’ll get good at.

Good learning and practise is just like good sex: fast, hard and leaves you sweating and exhausted and should potentially kill you.

That’s all you’re getting in this email.

We be covering this stuff in detail in the MEFA course. In Week 3, and then again in Week 7 (where we talk about the 5 elements of fluency) and towards the end of the course where we cover some more advanced topics.

If you’re in the course…

… Brilliant.

If not, you’ll have your chance to get in on the 24th of this month.

But ONLY if you’re on the Priority Notification List:



How to speak clearly in English?

in Doing English Podcast

Common question ー

“How to speak clearly in English?”

Okay, here we go…

1. Sort out your pronunciation

No, you don’t need to sound like a native speaker (in fact trying to sound like a Brit or an American just makes things worse – I’ve done research that suggests native speakers just find it irritating and fake).

But you do need to say stuff right.

Take an 80/20 approach and focus on the vowels.

2. Learn to chunk right

One of the main reasons you are hard to understand is because you don’t chunk your English properly. If you speak in individual words, pronouncing each one properly it just makes you HARD to understand, not easy (because that’s not how natives your their language).

3. Speak in probable phrases, not grammatical phrases

What do I mean?

Native speakers speak in chunks. High-frequency, highly-probable phrases.

They don’t speak using grammar rules and words like you were taught. And this is one of the biggest things that makes it obvious English is your second language (and makes you hard to listen to). You speak using expressing that are grammatically correct…. but they are NOT the ones we expect.

4. Vary the speed of your voice

Native speakers don’t speak “fast” like you think they do.

They speed up and slow down.

Speak fast when excited. Slow down, pause and carefully enunciate for dramatic effect. Getting this right makes you interesting… and, yes, clear.

5. Organise your speech well.

Most people think “fluency” is one thing… but it’s not.

Fluency is actually FIVE separate things all happening at once that, when all done well, make your “fluent”. One of those is how well organised English is in your head, and how organised and logical your flow of speech.

If you speak messily…

… don’t expect people to easily understand you.

What’re the other elements of fluency?

We’ll be covering that MEFA in Week 7 (including how to improve each one).

If you’re on the course (or have just finished), well done.

If not?

Sucks to be you.

Make sure you’re on the next run by putting yourself on the Priority Notification List: