PLP 9 – Building English Fluency
Learn the secret to building English fluency in episode 9 of the Power Learning Podcast!
In Episode 9, we finish month 6 of the fluency journey of our Master English Conversation Scholarship Contest winners, and discuss building English fluency. You’ll see how much improvement they’ve made in just 6 months with the program and you’ll get some great tips on building your fluency, and improving your pronunciation, by focusing on your strengths.
Enjoy this Power Learning Podcast episode, and let us know what you think in the comments!
Power Learning Podcast 9 – Building English Fluency – full transcript below…
Well, hello and welcome to the EnglishAnyone.com Power Learning Podcast. I’m Drew Badger, author, English speaking confidence expert and cofounder of EnglishAnyone.com and it’s a pleasure to have you with me today.
For today’s episode, I’ve got something very, very excited and I’m really, really honored to have our four winners from the Master English Conversation Scholarship and today, I want to have a bit of a comparison between how they were when they were first applying for the program and how they are today, six months later, with their new recordings. Each one of them has made progress in their own way, some with pronunciation, others with using vocabulary words.
And, since maybe you’re not a member of Master English Conversation, it might be a little bit difficult for you to know what words and phrases they’re using from the program, uh, but for being their teacher, uh, I, I really couldn’t have picked four better people to join this program. They’ve got different levels and they’ve got different strengths and different weaknesses for language learning, but they’re all doing a fantastic job and improving in their own way.
So, in today’s episode, we will listen to each one of the four winners, how they sounded when they first started and how they sound now and then we will come back after that and I will give the tip for this month so that you and they, and everyone else listening out there, can continue to improve and build their English speaking confidence and fluency. So let’s begin with Yen. I’m really excited about her progress. Every month, she always has a really keen sense for new phrases and she uses them perfectly in new sentences.
It’s always great to hear something that you teach as a teacher and then you see somebody actually use it. It doesn’t matter what you teach. You could be teaching someone how to ride a bike or how to do business or any kind of thing like that, but when a student takes action and actually uses what they learn, that’s the most fulfilling thing, the most exciting thing about being a teacher.
If I didn’t have students all over the world that were actually making progress, I really couldn’t do what I do. I don’t teach for myself. Even though I really enjoy teaching, it’s more about seeing what people actually do with the information. So I’m so excited for Yen and we’ll, uh, get to listen to her for a little bit. We’ll play first her recording of how she was when she was applying for the program and then you’ll see how things are a little bit different now. Listen carefully.
Yen: I have been studying English for six years in the [formal 02:53] time. I just learned English because it’s one of the school subjects and I really want to past the same so I’m trying just not the grammar, by using a grammar text book.
Hello. My name is Yen and I’m a student of Master English Conversation. Thanks to this month’s lesson, I learned a lot of complicated phrases that turned Basic English into interesting complex sentences. And I really liked this English fluency piece. I also learned a lot of fluency training strategies that helped my brain think and react in English. But for me, the most effective training technique is to watch a movie and then pretend to be a character in that movie. I listen to their line carefully and then say their line out aloud or just say them in my head. Now, I’m able to think in English automatically.
The time I was thinking to myself and then, all of a sudden, I realized I was thinking in English. And I was really happy and felt excited about this. I also tried to make, in, in our beginning, a conversation. I don’t have much opportunity to meet native speakers. I can only meet my native English teacher in my class. So in a speaking test, before he asked me questions, I tried to say an opener. Then I realized he was wearing a new shirt with tie. Then I said, “I notice you have a new shirt. It makes you look more manly.” He told me that my school had a new rule that teachers have to wear shirt with tie and that’s why he had to wear like that. But anyway, I can make the argument that he was very happy and satisfied about my compliment. Then our conversation was much more comfortable and friendly than just a mere test. All right. Thank you for listening. Bye.
Next up is Bhaskar. I’m so proud of his progress as well. He’s a really, really diligent student. He works very hard and he cares about the program and his progress very much. He takes what I teach in the program and then he’s sure to apply it and actually take action. His English was already quite good, but now we’re, we’re kind of moving him into being a little bit more casual. There’s a, a certain kind of educated English learner English and he is now kind of transitioning more into native speaker kind of English. So he’s speaking a bit more casually and, uh, a bit more excited when he actually speaks because he’s using more kind of native English and not trying to use, uh, the kind of difficult words that you would see in a textbook.
Remember, these words are correct, but the way that you sound in a textbook is much different than the way you sound when you’re actually speaking with native speakers in a conversation. So we understand those words, but there’s just kind of something robotic about them. So listen carefully to Bhaskar’s transition as well. You’ll notice some great, uh, using more words, being a bit more confident with the way he speaks and I’m really excited to have him continue to improve by working on his pronunciation when he goes into the future. Here you go.
Bhaskar: I thought of a couple of issues, but I decided to tell about this one, about this particular one because this incident has a lot, and, uh, a lot to tell or to speak.
Hi, everyone. I’m glad to be here again to tell you how my practice is going on and what the good stuff, the brand new stuff I got from this month’s lesson set. I hope you guys are all doing fantastic. You know, this kind of incredible thing happened to me, getting this scholarship for this program. And I have finished six months of this course and six months to go. In the six months’ period, besides the monthly stuff, I studied some previous lesson sets also. And now, for a six month period of learning, kind of intense learning, I got to this stage.
Okay, when it comes to July month lesson set, out on the town. The first one is Grammar Focus lesson, telling about the relative clauses. The next one is Phrase Builder lesson. It helped me to learn a bunch of good phrases. If we add them to our conversation, we sound kind of intelligent. Actually, while I was studying this Phrase Builder lesson, one phrase from this lesson reminded me of another phrase that I heard last month while watching sitcom. The phrase I learned from this lesson is, “I can make the case that… I make the case that…” We can use this phrase when we present our opinion with some evidence.
For example, I can make the case that we have many resources on the Internet to learn English nowadays when compared with other languages. But actually, the phrase I remembered was that I heard, while watching Seinfeld. That was, “I rest my case.” This means I close my case, I finish my case, I submit all the evidence to rule my case, like that. It was told when George finished his argument with Jerry with some evidence. Actually, it’s kind of a connection between learning things. If we make this connection between the new stuff while learning, we can remember forever what we have learnt. I’m coming back.
The next lesson from this month’s lesson set is Fluency Corner lesson on how we can make ourselves think in English. The next big thing is Master Conversation. Actually, this month’s Master Conversation is a brand new one. It’s not the routine one, kind of different and difficult. But I know Drew made this lesson on a purpose to kind of expose us to real conversation. Let’s say I get a job in US. No, no. Let me take this dream to some extent.
I get a job in New York, big city, Big Apple in a big company. I join there. After a few days, some colleagues invite me to a party at a bar. I go there. We all sit at a table. They’re all in kind of informal talking in a noisy environment. I cannot be able to follow their conversation. So I can’t play active role in their conversation. I remain silent the entire party. It’s not a good thing. It, it, it’s the kind of situation that you, we never want to be in. When we go to an English-speaking country, these kind of things are hardest and they take us back from mingling at your party.
Considering these situations, Drew made this lesson. It’s definitely a difficult one for English learners like me with a real conversation between four native speakers and a background noise. But this is the real situation when we go out in an English-speaking country. Actually, it did take more time for me to master it, but it’s a real one. We ought to spend some time for this kind of talk. Movies and sitcoms are best things to get used to this kind of dialect.
The final lesson is Question Everything. This is the thing, uh, if you master the four lessons, we can really answer questions and it will help us to improve our conversation, even though we have no one to talk around us. The next thing is Special Mission Homework Assignment. Actually, this month’s assignment is really a simple one that we do in our daily life. For this task, Drew had us practice openers, a lot of openers with new people, until we find a common thing that we both are interested in to take our conversation to the next level.
And the second one in this assignment is to give some compliments, appreciating the good things that we see in other person. If you’re not self-involved, we can easily see some good things in every person. Once we see a good thing in other person, there is no reason to keep it to ourselves. If we give compliments to them, they really appreciate us and they think we are kind of attentive to them. It will make our relationship a bit stronger from a superficial level to some deep. As I settled in one, I just keep continuing the same while I am online and in person, but in person, not in English. That’s it. Thank you, guys, for listening to this talk. Bye-bye.
Okay. Next is the lovely Jaroslava. I’m so excited about her. Oh, Jaroslava, you’re doing such a fantastic job. When she first applied, I remember she was, uh, quite nervous and I, I would be too. This is, uh, kind of a tricky thing. her English was probably the weakest, uh, her spoken English anyway, uh, of the four winners of the Master English Conversation Scholarship and I’m really, really excited to see how much she’s changed in just six months. Un, not only the words that she’s using and, even though she’s still not a fantastic speaker yet, she’s doing such a great job and her confidence, uh, is — it’s almost dramatic, all, the, the amazing difference that I’ve seen in the way she speaks from when she first applied to the program versus now. And I can’t wait to see what she will look like in another six months. All right. Here’s Jaroslava.
Jaroslava: Hello. How are you? I am fine, thank you. Today is sunny. Yesterday was snowy. Do you like winter? I like winter very much. I and my, yeah, I and my husband love cross-country skiing, but our sons, uh, don’t like it. Uh, they like downhill skiing.
Hello. This month, I’m going to tell you about my English [inaudible 15:20]. First, I changed the language on my phone and my computer. When I try to think in English, my mind was clear and empty. Even though it’s fantastic for meditation [inaudible 15:34] English speaker and I have to think in English. I have a big ring making me think in English. It’s a magic ring with picture of flag Great Britain. A friend of my son, Martin, bought it in London for me. When I wearing this ring, I have to think in English. Mike, who is my younger son, let me sleep on his pillow. The pillow, with picture Engine Thomas, which is a very famous British children’s story, is magic too. Every night, I wish Thomas [arrive 16:07] dreams in English.
When it comes to my English [inaudible 16:12] space, it was very hard work. I went shopping something British or American, but I didn’t buy anything. Be that as it may, I have fantastic English space. My children let me use their toys for decorating. As opposed to super hero, I prefer Bob the Builder, which is other British children’s story. I see my English space, but don’t laugh me, please. If you laugh me, I won’t tell you anything next month. I wish I had my, my English space with my favorite British story, Harry Potter. I am on a Harry Potter kick, but we have only [inaudible 17:01]. I hope I understand all of these Harry Potter soon. So I am studying English every day.
Whereas most people study English very hard, I prefer magic way. Now I have four magic things. Today, I told you about the first and second, my magic ring and pillow. Next is do you remember, my goldfish. I use them for speaking. Last, guess please. Would you tell me what my last magic thing is? You have it too. It’s easy. It’s Master English Conversation 2.0. In terms of Special Mission Homework Assignment this month, I try to open a lot of conversation on YouTube and Facebook when I was home for work.
July and August are holidays for my children so we spent two months at my mother’s house in small village without internet. In September, uh, when my children go to school, we live at home that is in town, still connected to the Internet. About Master class, it was very hardcore for me, uh, but I am really happy for this experience.
And our last scholarship winner is Carlos. Oh, Carlos. I love your name. Again, that’s a Spanish thing. I love that pronunciation. So I’m so proud of his progress. He’s really thinking a lot about his English and he’s, you can feel that he’s thinking less in his own language and thinking more in English when he’s actually speaking. So, Carlos, I’m so proud of you. Continue to relax and let go when you speak. Even if you want to express something and it’s a more complicated way, I really want you to take the time to relax and not worry about, you know, how you have to say it, even if it could be a complicated thing because I can see that he really wants to express himself, uh, and say things that are a little bit more difficult because he really has interesting ideas that he wants to say. So listen carefully to how he was six months ago and compare it to how he is now. Here you go.
Carlos: Learning a new language is very, very hard. It’s tough. It’s something that, uh, it’s something that can be, uh, frustrating, frustrating sometimes.
Hey, guys. Carlos from El Salvador. Today, I want to tell you something about, uh, this month on Master English Conversation that was very important for me. I learned many things and also many phrases and I can tell you guys that EnglishAnyone.com is really the, the real thing. Uh, you can find many information, um, much information on this site really helpful for you.
So the first one, uh, which I was, um, very, uh, not that related to, but I have learned something before, but, uh, the thing is that Drew make it very clearly and simply for, simple for us. So what I learned about the relative clauses, um, is that we have many things to do it, actually. And we have, uh, the regular way and the written way. So that is very important that we make some sentences because [inaudible 21:05] they, they become, uh, a part of our speaking. And with that part, we can improve it.
So the second, secondly, I learned about, uh, phrases. Uh, the Phrase Builder is very important for me, and pronunciation also. Uh, many phrases that I, to tell the truth, I have heard about, uh, this phrase, when it comes to, but I didn’t really understand how to use it. And I have to tell the truth, when, when Drew, eh, explained to us that the phrase, it, it was very easy to understand for me. I can, I have to tell, I must admit that it was very clear and it was much easier than other sites. So the Fluency Corner lesson, uh, for me the Fluency Corner lesson, what I learned is very important because we, we have to make our, our, our own plan of, uh, [inaudible 22:24] the things in English. Everything around us have to be, have to be in, in the, the thing that we have to learn, uh, much easier because, uh, we have to put our cell phones on English and watch many programs in English, TV shows also and that is important. And that all that we get fluency much, much faster.
And, uh, about the Master English class, I was really, this time, this time, this particular time was really interesting because we have many accents and, and dialects. To, uh, tell you the truth, I couldn’t understand without reading the script. Uh, it wasn’t as good, really. It was like a normal conversation that they, uh, were having, like friends and friends of Drew. And it was really difficult, but I can tell you that that is the real English and the real English is like that. No professor, no classes. Is that the real English? They don’t have to be encouraged to — and please understand. Not at all, but get the main idea.
For my homework assignment, there was pretty much a easy one because online is kind of easy to say, “Hey, hello,” or tell people, “Hey, practice,” or something like that. But, eh, in the real world, it is much, much more difficult, believe me. I went to some malls and talked to people, uh, in a proper way, not rude, but good, but in a good way. And their answers, uh, there were too, so, um, they were too good for me because I was, uh, I was, uh, thinking about asking people, uh, about many things, but I just said, “Hey, hey, I want you to tell me where is this place or where is that place,” and they respond me in — it’s kind of difficult to find people here in [inaudible 25:13] that speak English, but I did it and it worked out, uh, and it turned out well. So thanks for listening and it’s kind of, uh, it’s raining here in, in, in — that is all for this month. Thank you. Thank you.
All right. Well, I hope you enjoyed listening to all four of the Master English Conversation Scholarship winners. Again, they’ve just finished month six of the program so they’re halfway done. And they have the whole rest of the year, so another six months on the program, to continue to focus on things that are more specific to each of them, as an individual learner. Just like you listening out there, I want them also to kind of focus on their strengths and then, you know, continue to use those to start building their confidence.
And, as you build your speaking confidence by using your English in real situations, it could be online or people at work or talking with people in, um, you know, chat rooms or actual conversations. However you practice and meet with native speakers, um, if you use your strengths, again, like me, it could be sports and then I play sports to start meeting more people. That’s using my strength in order to get into English more and then I can start focusing on my weaknesses a little bit more. So let’s say, uh, for me, remembering some things might be a weakness or, for, uh, not being able to pronounce something might be a weakness, but I have a lot of confidence for meeting new people.
So I can get into a conversation easily and then I can use that strength to help build up all of the weaknesses, but you want to begin with your strengths. So for all of them, they’ll, they’ll kind of listen to those and they’ll hear what they’re improving and what they need to work on and each person kind of knows that. Think about what’s easy for you to do. Think about what comes naturally, what you don’t need to work at so hard. You can kind of look at someone, like Michael Jordan, and think, wow, like he was really was able to play basketball very, very well. And, granted, he practiced a lot, but when you looked at when he retired, uh, in the 1990s and he tried playing baseball, it was a completely different situation. He was out of his element.
This expression, out of his element, means that he was doing something that he’s not very good at. And trying to hit a major league fast ball is one of the most difficult things to do in sports because you’re, you know, looking at a ball that’s coming at you incredibly quickly and if you don’t have years and years of practice doing that with the ball getting faster and faster, as you go through the level of baseball, it’s really difficult to do. So he was out of his element, but he focused on his strengths and his strength was working really, really hard and not quitting.
So he knew that, even though he wasn’t such a great baseball player, he would continue to work hard. He, he got to practice early. He would do batting practice a whole bunch and then have a regular game and then stop and do batting practice after the game and he got better. So he used his strength to tackle and, uh, kind of overcome his weaknesses of lack of experience. So I want you to think about that for yourself and for the four winners out there, really think about your strengths and how you can use your strengths to help your weaknesses. Just think about what comes easy for you, what’s natural, what you don’t really need to practice. But then work really hard at that thing and then use that to help you get into more conversations and then you can use those conversations to help you improve more when you’re actually speaking with people.
So, specifically for improving, moving from the beginning of this year with the Master English Conversation Scholarship winners, we’re going from more general ideas down to more specific ideas each time. We’ve covered things, like using one sound to practice your English, uh, using your hobbies and your interest to get more excited about a language and find a bridge or an idea or an action that can pull you into the language. Uh, we’ve talked about using, uh, individual fluency skills and working on those, focusing on grammar, thinking about the practice gap, which we talked about last month.
And remember, the practice gap is trying to make practice as much like real life as possible so that, when you get out, you’ve already kind of trained yourself. You feel emotionally connected when you’re speaking. You’re excited. And that way, when you get into real conversation situations, it’s, uh, a lot more easy for you to relax and speak confidently. So this month, the final tip for month six, uh, I want you to focus on pronunciation. So we’re finally into pronunciation now. We’re getting halfway through the year. Now, I want you to work on pronunciation.
And there are two basic things that you should do for that. The first is to over-pronounce things, to over-pronounce things. And the second thing is to work on blending your sounds, blending your sounds. I see a lot of videos on YouTube that will teach you how to pronounce an individual word. But the problem with the is method is that, when you’re in a native conversation, the pronunciation of a word will often change and people pronounce it different ways and they blend the sounds of that word together with other words. So this over-pronouncing and using the blending of sounds is what I really want you to focus on this month.
You’re getting closer and closer to working towards fluency. So you already thought about your grammar. You’re really practicing that and then you’ll get into, uh, pronunciation this month. So what I’d like you to do is find something you’re interested in. It could be a movie, a video, anything on YouTube or, uh, any other regular movie. And I want you to focus on one scene from that movie. So pick even just one minute or 10 seconds of one piece of dialog. So dialog is two people speaking or more, two or more people speaking to each other. So find one person and just watch that over and over and over again. Find something interesting that you can practice and really master that one phrase.
What you’re listening for, uh, you should listen to the phrase many, many times. Stop whatever it is you’re listening to, then over-pronounce something. So, let’s say I’m watching a movie, the first thing I should do is I should watch a clip that’s like, “Tomorrow, I’m going to the store. Tomorrow, I’m going to the store.” What I want to do is stop after I’ve listened many times and then over-pronounce the sounds, “Tomorrow, I’m going to the store.” I really want to train my mouth. And, again, you have to kind of take bigger motions, use the muscles and really train them to make sounds when you’re doing that in English for practicing pronunciation. “Tomorrow, I’m going to the store.”
And then go back and really listen that, even though the, uh, “Tomorrow, I’m going to the store,” is, you know, the words are being said that way or if you read it that way, “Tomorrow, I’m going to the store,” it’s a bit easier to read it that way, but when you hear it said in a movie or some video clip, you’ll hear, “Tomorrow I’m going to the store.” And it’s a faster-sounding thing. So, after you’ve over-pronounced it, go back and take your time with blending the sounds together, “Tomorrow, I’m going to the store. Tomorrow, I’m going to the store.”
And it will be different for each thing, whatever you want to do, but try to find a, uh, a movie or a song or anything that’s got the lyrics or the transcript or, you know, the script, whatever that is so you can read what you’re practicing for that scene and find something you’re interested in so you can improve your pronunciation. But over-pronouncing and blending the sounds, those are the things that are going to train your ears and train your mouth so that you can really move and speak like a native English speaker. It’s really the blending of sounds. Uh, that’s the thing that’s going to set you apart. It will make it so that you’re not sounding like a foreign English learner and that you sound more like a native English speaker.
So find something you like, listen very carefully, repeat what they say by over-pronouncing it and then try to go back and blend the sounds so that you sound just like the people that are speaking. Have fun with it. Try to make some funny voices. Speak with emotion and really enjoy it, but really master what it is you’re doing.
Now, we’re going to do something a little bit different for the Master English Conversation Scholarship winners. So they will not be in the Power Learning Podcast next month and a few months after that, but I will bring all of them back and you can see how far they’ve come after another six months of practice. So I hope you enjoyed listening to them today. I wish fantastic luck to them. I will continue to work with them for the next six months and you will see what you really can accomplish in a year if you practice and you have the right teacher, the right method and you really go out and take action.
Have a fantastic day and I will see you next time. We’ve got more videos. A brand new Master English Conversation lesson set is now available. I’m so excited. We’re continuing to improve the program with great feedback from learners every month and I look forward to hearing about your progress and your success stories as well. Have an excellent day and I will see you next time. Bye bye.