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“What would you do if you had more money than you could spend in a lifetime?”

in The Doing English Blog

I often have trouble sleeping.

My mind is like a gerbil on amphetamines at the best of times.

And it likes to pose interesting questions…

… right as I’m trying sleep.

So last night I’m lying in bed, about to drift off, when my brain suddenly calls out:

“Hey, Julian. You sleeping?”

“Yes! So shut up,” I reply.

“What would you do if you had more money than you could spend in a lifetime?”

Bloody hell, here we go.

Because now I’m wide awake and thinking about this particular scenario.

What would I do?

The conclusion that I came to was as simple, and probably very unsatisfying for anyone other than me. First I’d buy a nice house, and employ a chef and housekeeper. I’d build a library equipped with enough bookshelves to hold Amazon’s entire Scandinavian crime fiction collection (an obsession of mine for about 5 years now).

Next, I’d equip said library with the biggest, best screen and sound system money can buy and I’d call up Amazon Video and offer them a million quid to give me permanently, lifetime access to every film they have (past and future ー none of this having to mess around renting stuff and watching within 48 hours).

Then I’d spend my days alternating between reading and watching every film ever made.

Pure bliss.

Luckily for you, my dreams of becoming a complete hermit aren’t likely to come true very soon. Which is why you can (and should) click here and add yourself to the MEFA Priority Notification List for next time.


P.S. As always happens…

… I’ve had my inbox filled with emails every day asking if I’ll make an exception and let them join MEFA now. The answer’s no.

You’ll have to get in next time…

… and the best way to do that is to add yourself to the MEFA Priority Notification List.

The Tomorrow Gene

in The Doing English Blog

Recently I read a book called…

“The Tomorrow Gene”

… honestly?

It was OK.

But not amazing.

If you plan to read the book, you should probably stop reading this email now. Because I’m going to ruin it. You have been warned.


The book is about a beauty treatment that makes people young again. At the end of the book it turns out actually the company doing the ‘Tomorrow Gene’ (the name of the beauty treatment) actually couldn’t get the treatment to work at all. Instead, they’re creating younger-clones and transplanting memories from the originals before disposing of the older (but original) version.

BUT ー the memory transfer isn’t perfect.

And people in the know can tell the difference between the originals and clones.

You see, the clone ends up with missing memories and holes in what they remember. So in a sense, the clone, although younger and more beautiful, is a lesser, reduced version of what the person once was.

Funny thing is, this is exactly how many of you describe yourself in English.

Like a badly made clone.

You look like you, but as soon as you open your mouth, something lesser comes out.

In your native language, you’re smart, funny and confident. You’re witty and always shining like a bright light, drawing people’s admiration.

But then in English, you feel clumsy, dull and shy.

Wit is replaced with dry, flavourless ‘textbook’ English, and instead of smooth, sophisticated phrases, you speak in slow, awkward mistakes and errors.

Many of my new MEFA members described themselves like this.

But you know what?

In 90 days from now, they’ll be in a totally different place and describing themselves in a totally different way.

The question is, will you?

If you wanted to join MEFA, it’s too late (we’re full).

You can (and should) put yourself on the Priority Notification List for next time, though.


P.S. When will MEFA be opening again?

I haven’t decided.

But the people who get first chance next time will be those on the Priority Notification List.

So add yourself.

“Do Two-Way Translation to Improve English” (Bullshit)

in The Doing English Blog

I have to stay away from online forums about learning English.


It really, really stresses me out.

Take this nugget of awful advice, given in reply to someone saying “my English doesn’t improve, what can I do?”:

“Do two-way translation. Read something (anything) in English, translate it carefully with the aid of dictionaries and forums into your own language, and then translate it back into English without the aid of the original version.”

That’s the worst advice ever.

(I’ll be you anything this person is an English teacher who has never learnt a language to fluency themselves.)


A couple of reasons…

  1. Translations rarely sound natural (if you’ve ever read a book in your native language translated from another, you’ll know what I mean).
  2. We get good at what we practise… and if you’re practising translating everything, that’s what you’ll get good at (NOT speaking English fluency, directly in English, which is what you should be doing).
  3. Because of this, you’ll create a “translation habit” (i.e. you’ll be thinking of everything you say in your native language as you speak).
  4. You’ll also keep using unnatural expressions (see point 1).

I’ve said this time and time again…

The internet is a wonderful thing, but be critical of the “advice” you listen to.

If you want to speak (1) naturally (2) without hesitation and (3) also see your English growing quickly… DON’T do “two-way translation” or whatever nonsense this idiot is talking about.

What should you do instead?

That’s what the MEF Accelerator course is all about.

Here’s the place to enrol.


P.S. Here’s the place to enrol on MEFA.