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Why Elephants Disappoint Me

in The Doing English Blog

Random Julian Fact for you ー

The first time I saw an elephant I was really disappointed.

I think I was about 6.

It was the first time I went to a zoo, and until then I’d only seen pictures of elephants in books and magazines. Somehow they looked much bigger in pictures, and the image I had in my mind was exaggerated.

So when I saw one in real life…

… the first thing I thought was: it’s kinda small.

I mean, you wouldn’t want one sitting on you for sure…. but I’ve never been able to get over the feeling that it just wasn’t as big and impressive as I expected. Perhaps a bit like going to see a film that’s been over-promoted and built up in your head. The fact you thought it would be amazing make it that much more disappointing when it turns out to be crap.

And you know what else it’s true of?

Native Spakers.

It’s kind of the same with native-speakers, too.

As a language learner we tend to look up to them wide-eyed and all like


… like they’re the best thing since sliced bread.

Gods to aspire to…

But the reality is, a lot of native speakers are actually pretty useless at using their language well. They’re inarticulate, boring and don’t know how to communicate in a way that impresses people. Put simply, they speak fluently, but not in a way that people actually WANT to listen to.

And honestly?

Although I want you to aim to be fluent in a technical sense just like native speakers, I don’t want you to idolise them. Instead, I want you to go beyond them.

This is where my book “Magnetic Chit-Chat” comes in.

Whether you use English in business or in day-to-day life, the idea is simple ー to have a conversation in a way that makes people want to speak to you again (not run and hide because you were so damn boring).

You can read the first chapter for free

… and it’s available on Kindle and, as always, includes a complete audio version for your listening enjoyment.


P.S. What’s the difference between Magnetic Chit-Chat and my other book, Advanced English Conversation (AEC)? (And indeed, Small Talk Superhero).

Simply put, AEC, and the much, much more detailed, in-depth programme, STS, focus on speaking well in conversation as a second language speaker. I take you by the hand and show you everything you need to learn, and how to do it.

Magnetic Chit-Chat is a little different.

It’s still about speaking well in conversation…

… but it’s more about the psychology of a good conversation, than the straight-up technical skill.

Click here to get your free chapter.

P.P.S. The next book in the “Advanced English” series is in the works.

What’s it gonna be about?

I’ll tell you more about that tomorrow.