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Speaking AMAZING English

in The Doing English Blog

Okay, here’s the deal.

I’m gonna teach you the three things that you need to speak amazing English

You can get so far without all three of these things.

You can get to the intermediate stage just by learning English, just by focusing on the language itself.

But if you wanna go beyond that, start to speak English that is wow, amazing, extraordinary, you are gonna need to go beyond the mere words and phrases and patterns of English.

Yes, you need three things, and these three things I call the LKC Triangle.

The first part of the LKC Triangle is indeed Language.

In order to speak a language, you need knowledge of the language. I mean, that much is obvious. If you don’t have the words and the phrases that you need to express the things that you want to express and talk about, well, obviously, you’re not gonna be able to talk about those things, are you?

But just knowing English, the language itself is not enough.

That will only take you so far, as I said, up to about the intermediate stage at best.

But if you wanna go beyond that, you need to start expanding your communicative ability as it were. This is where the second point of the LKC Triangle comes in, the K. The K stands for Knowledge.

Knowledge means the content, the stuff that you have in your head, the things that you have got that you can talk about.

It also means your communicative ability, your knowledge of how to use the language that you’ve got, although this comes in to the C to an extent as well. But simply put, if you don’t have interesting things to talk about, then you’re not gonna be able to speak amazingly well in conversation.

People who are fun to talk to, great to talk to, are people who have stories to tell, interesting insights on issues that affect us all. They are interesting people because they’ve got interesting stuff in here, and that feeds into the way that they speak and the way that they use their language.

Finally, you need one more thing to really reach the highest levels of achievement when it comes to speaking English, and that is the C of the LKC Triangle, Culture.

Now, culture is a little tricky to define because culture exists on many, many levels, but simply put, culture can be defined as the way that people behave. And therefore, in this context, we are talking about knowledge of how people act, how people behave.

Now, of course when we talk about culture, we’re often talking about a country’s culture, Japanese culture versus, say, British culture versus, say, Irish culture versus, say, Italian, German, Spanish, Chinese, or whatever culture. But what you’ve got to understand is that these countries are simply groups of people. And even within countries, we have different parts of a country which will have slightly different cultures.

For example, if you go to Japan, if you go to Tokyo, the culture there is quite different to the culture in Osaka, which is still a Japanese city, but very, very different one. Likewise, in the UK, Manchester is very different to London, which is very different to, say, Plymouth. You get the idea.

Culture can also mean groups of people. It can also mean organisations of people. And it can also mean people on an individual level. But when it comes to speaking, what you need to understand is that the way that we see and understand and interact with the world is all filtered through our knowledge of culture.

This is why I might say something meaning one thing but you may misunderstand me or interpret it in a different way and we end up with these cultural mishaps, miscommunications, because I say one thing believing it meant to me one thing. You understand it as something different.

We all understand and use language through our own cultural filters. When I speak, I’m speaking through my cultural filter. When you listen, you’re listening through yours.

So, if our understanding of the way that people should behave, the social norms of our conversation are completely different, then of course we will have different styles of communication. We will speak in different ways.

A very obvious example being something like the very dry, sarcastic sense of humour that we’re very fond of in the UK, but which often does not translate into other languages and into other cultures. Japanese people have a hard time with it, for example, because it isn’t a part of their culture. And whenever I’ve tried to use the typical British sense of humour in Japanese, it’s falling flat on its face. It’s never ever worked.

That, in a nutshell, is the LKC Triangle. You need the language. Of course, that much is obvious. But you also need knowledge.

That is, interesting things to say, interesting stories to tell. And you also need knowledge of culture, the way that we behave and understand and interact with the world. Until you’ve got all three of these things nailed, you are not gonna be amazing when it comes to speaking.

So, ask yourself, are you struggling to break past the intermediate barrier because you’re focusing too much on simply memorising new words or learning more phrases when what you should actually be doing is trying to build an understanding of the culture of the people that you are using English with?

Or is it that you simply have jack shit to talk about and that you’re a boring person because you never do anything?

These things are all important when it comes to having conversations.

And incidentally, when I design lessons in Extraordinary English Speakers, my English learning group, which among other things includes a weekly lesson to study, I design all the lessons with these three things in mine so that we’re not just focusing on the language but we’re also going deep into the culture, understanding the way that people behave, the dynamics, the social norms of conversation, as well as trying to build up your bank of interesting things to talk about, etc.

Anyway, that, again, in a nutshell, is the LKC Triangle.

Check out Extraordinary English Speakers if you’re not already a member, DoingEnglish.com/EES to apply.