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Whose fault is it your English is crap?

in The Doing English Blog

Look ー

Don’t blame your friends, coworkers, colleagues, parents, or teachers for your own failures.

There’s only one person you can blame…

… and that’s you.

Did School English Fail You?

Something that I hear quite a lot from potential coaching clients is that they are annoyed, irritated and frustrated because they believe someone else is to blame for their lack of proficiency in English.

One way that I commonly hear this is to say that they weren’t taught properly at school.

Their school English classes were no good. Their teacher was no good. Or their teacher wasn’t a native speaker. Or their teacher didn’t know how to get them actually speaking English. And…. you get the idea.

So it’s their teacher’s fault their English learning failed.

Are Your Parents to Blame?

Other people blame their parents.

If only their parents had given them opportunities to learn English…

To speak English…

To get good at English as a child.

Then they wouldn’t have had to struggle with the process. They would’ve just learned automatically as a kid and now they’d be like a native speaker.

… or would they?

Thing is, it’s impossible to say.

Perhaps your co-workers get in your way?

Another way that I’ve heard it is to say that their coworkers and their colleagues and their friends get in their way, they stop them from doing the things that they want to do or take their time away from them by…. look. You get the idea.

Essentially, all of these complaints are saying exactly the same thing ー

It’s not my fault.

I’m crap at English and it’s somebody else’s fault.

That, however, is stupid.

You’ve got to let go of that idea. If you are not good at speaking English there’s only one person to blame. YOU.

That might be harsh, and you might not like it, but it’s the best way to think.

Change the way you think

You see, taking responsibility is far more productive.

If it truly is somebody else’s fault, then that puts you in a position where you can’t do anything about the problem. Because you simply can’t control other people.

On the other hand, if it’s your fault then that is something you can control.

For a start, you can stop moaning and feeling sorry for yourself about the fact that you didn’t already master the English language… and get the hell on with it.

Remember ー

The best time master spoken English was ten years ago.

The second best time?

Right now.

So stop blaming other people and take responsibility for your own learning.

If You Want My Help

If you are frustrated and struggling, click here and consume my free training.

In it, you’ll learn the five key changes that you need to make to your English learning routine to see massive progress with your English speaking.

Alternatively, if you want my help, right here, right now, to transform your English and use it to do amazing things in your life, click here and book your own free consultation call with me. We’ll talk about how I can help you with your English transformation.


P.S. Click here to watch my Free Training where I teach you my “Rocket Launch” Method.


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Are You Teaching Yourself to Translate in Your Head?

in The Doing English Blog

Do you translate everything in your head?

Because if you do, there’s a good chance that what you’re doing to improve your English is actually making it worse and not better.

Watch on.

If you are stuck thinking in your native language, translating everything in your head word by word, rule by rule, painstakingly computing your English sentences as you go, there’s a good chance what are you doing to improve your English is making the situation worse and not better.

You see, we get good at what we practise and many people, although they think they are doing what they should be doing to improve their English, are actually practicing these mental gymnastics that make you do what you are doing.

First of all, let’s think about what you probably did when you were at school.

If you had English classes and if you didn’t like the classes that typically people in Japan have and certainly what I had when I studied French in the UK, there’s a good chance that you learned by memorising lists of vocabulary, studying grammar rules, translating sentences back and forth.

Learning to take the grammar that you learned, slot in words, and construct and compute sentences.

And of course, your teacher would put you on the spot.

Hey, Julian!

She would say, stand up, tell me how to say

“I have a green apple” in French.

And then I would be expected to produce the sentence, which of course I had no fucking clue how to do anyway, but in my head, I would try to make it work.

And I would all be a total mess in them.

Most people have English lessons like this.

What you are actually doing there is practicing thinking about what you’re saying as you’re saying it.

And of course in that situation, if you get it wrong, what happens? Your teacher punishes you by saying no, that’s wrong! Or by giving you bad scores on a test.

So that reinforces the feeling that you’ve got to spend more time thinking about these things, more carefully to compute them properly.

And then we get older, we struggle with our English. We start thinking in our native language, translating, not speaking as fluently as we’d like.

So what do we do? We think well okay, obviously I need to memorise more words.

I need to study more grammar.

And a little bit at a time you train yourself to think about everything as you are saying it.

The way you are learning, although you think you are doing what you need to do to get more fluent, you’re actually making the problem worse, because what you are practising is not what you need to be able to do and that is to be able to speak fluently and spontaneously without all the mental gymnastics going on in your head that are slowing you down in the first place.

And the first thing that you need to do is to understand that very fact that what you are doing is probably making the problem worse, so that you are able to let go and to start training yourself a little bit over time to start speaking directly in English without thinking in your native language or having to you know, having to construct and compute, and gymnasti-cize these sentences and all words.

It doesn’t matter. You get the idea as you go.

I recommend you check out my book Think English, Speak English: How to Stop Performing Mental Gymnastics Every Time You Speak English.

It’s on Kindle. It also comes in paperback. Also via Amazon.

If you wanna fix this problem that you are struggling with, if you are struggling with it, go to Think English, Speak English and check that out.


Can You Listen Your Way to Fluency?

in The Doing English Blog

Here’s a question I often get in one form or another —

“Can I listen my way to fluency?”

Short fast answer: unlikely.

A while ago I went to a lecture by Roy Lyster.

He’s one of the leading names in immersion education. Learning a language by “immersion” has been popular for decades. It started with lots of ideas in the 60s, 70s and 80s about learning a second language in what was considered a “natural” way. The idea was you’d study, say, history, and get English for free. But as Peter Skehan points out in his book A Cognitive Approach to Language Learning, kids in Immersion schools get really good at understanding. But not much else. They never get that good at speaking.

You see, it turns out we never just “pick up” a language.

And the reason why is, the brain is really good at using whatever information it can to understand…


Many of the things you hear…

… you actually don’t hear.

And so you never learn them. And many of the other things you hear…

… you actually don’t understand them correctly.

But your brain just goes ahead and fills in the gaps. And so you never really learn them.

In order to get better at English, two things have to happen repeatedly:

  1. Learning
  2. Focused use and practice

You’ve gotta learn it, then use it.

And that means taking the time to study English conversation, the phrases, expressions and chunks we use, what they mean, how we use them and importantly ー WHY we use them in the way we do. That is, the intention behind what we say.