For decades, non-native English speakers have used grammar and vocabulary books, memorization tricks, and listen and repeat to improve their English speaking. Over that many years, with so many people working to improve their English, of course these methods have worked for many people.
HOWEVER, we are well in the 21st century.
We don't have to be dependent on learning English with outdated books that force meaningless examples into a grammar rule, lists of vocabulary words, and English classes that don't teach us how to actually communicate. These are outdated methods, and if we continue to try to improve our English fluency using these methods, we will continue to have poor results when it comes to actually becoming more fluent.
Worse yet, we will continue to have low confidence when speaking because we don't have a specific path to actually improve.
"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results." - Albert Einstein
This quote attributed to Albert Einstein sums up the English learning journey for most people.
1. Join an English academy and take classes.
2. Hire a private tutor for conversation classes.
3. (Maybe) watch TV shows and movies in English.
4. Prepare for the next great exam.
5. Stay frustrated because they still don't feel 'fluent'.
I want to introduce you to a 21st century method of learning English (or any foreign language) that is for 21st century needs. This new method is called The EAGLE Method™, and once you learn and become familiar with it through practice, you will find yourself picking up new language and noticing how native speakers use the language automatically and everywhere.
The method is simple in theory, but it will take practice to actually turn your learning automatic as if you were learning your own language.
How The EAGLE Method™ exactly works.
The EAGLE Method™ is based on years of researching how expert non-native English speakers picked up and starting using English in the most natural ways, and then I've broken down and systematized this to create the best results possible.
Being able to use English naturally has many benefits like increased professional opportunities, building deeper personal relationships with people from other countries, boosted confidence and improved self-esteem.
The basic principle uses natural material that you love to consume, and then as you're watching or reading this material, yohunt the expressions that you find important and you'd like to use in your speech as an eagle soars in the sky and when it spots a small animal that it wants, it comes down to grab that animal and take it away.
This is what you will be doing with your language.
1. Create a list of content that you enjoy consuming. (YouTube videos, podcasts, series, even blogs)
2. Set a 30-minute time slot each day that you will call "English Time".
3. Choose a piece of content that you will study with and an objective that you want to hunt (pronunciation, expressions and vocabulary, general understanding, listening for details, etc.)
4. Watch the video with your target in mind. You will hunt this target when it comes up.
5. Work with the same video/audio content 3x. Each time, you will have a different target in mind to hunt.
If you follow this method, you will find yourself automatically starting to pick out expressions and look at how we use language in a completely different way in your every day life because you're building a habit for yourself of noticing these key elements.
A. This will not work if you are not consistent with your hunting. Just as an eagle can't leave his nest one time to search for a fish. The consistent act of repeatedly working with English in this way will build your language muscles and it will become second-nature.
B. This will not work if it's only a mental exercise. You MUST practice saying the language with your mouth. Just as any other muscle, your mouth is a muscle and it needs repetition to build its muscle memory.
Do you need extra GUIDANCE with this?
Book a call with us and let's dig deep into your English and find out what has been keeping you stuck. The call is totally FREE as long as you show up to the call, and we will ask questions about your current English state, what you need improved English fluency for, and identify what exactly is keeping you stuck.
"It's not what you said, it's how you said it."
This is a common line in relationships, but the words are true in any area of life.
You could say the exact same words with different intonation, and it may completely change the meaning of what you're saying.
Let's take this example:
"What are you doing?"
Depending on what word gets stress and emphasis, it completely changes the message. It could be:
So, what does this have to do with price?
When you're on a sales call, and then it comes to the part where you are giving your price, many people who are unsure or not confident about their price raise their intonation at the end after they give their number (especially if it's a new price for them).
This conveys uncertainty in yourself and your product.
"The investment for the entire package is $4800?" (almost as if you're asking the prospect if it's ok that you charge that)
INSTEAD, try this trick:
Practice saying your price until you use a nice, even-sounding tone.
Look around the room before you jump on your call, and identify things that you see as fact. Then use that same intonation as when you say your price.
"I have a coffee mug next to me. There are 6 books on my shelf. My shirt is blue. The investment for the package is $4800."
You'll be amazed at what this does for your messaging and your confidence.
If you're curious about diving deeper into using your English in a more effective way and feeling like you're actually in control of what you say and how you say it, book a call and let's talk.
In our call, we'll ask you a few questions about your current English level, your goals, and what you're currently doing to improve your English. We'll also share the basis for The English Mind program, which are the 3 lies that most non-native speakers believe that's actually holding them back from real life fluency.
If you're motivated and a high-level speaker, sign up for a call and let's talk.
For some reason English certificates are seen as the holy grail of language learning for many learners. IELTS, Cambridge B2, C1, C2, TOEFL, the list goes on.
Actually, I know the reason these are important for many people, and unfortunately for many, those reasons don't align with why they are really learning English.
But that's for another post.
Let's talk today about being an advanced level speaker compared to being a fluent speaker.
Are these the same thing to you?
SPOILER ALERT: They're not the same thing, and I'll share why.
What makes an "advanced English speaker"?
I've asked the question on my Facebook page, and I got some very interesting answers. There were many good answers as well as many misconceptions. I'd like to address those today.
Many people think that there are magical "advanced" vocabulary words or grammar. They think, "Once I can learn X number of words or "all of the grammar" I'll somehow be fluent.
Sorry, it doesn't work like that.
Sure, there are some advanced words. Of course, there are some advanced grammar. But these are not what you need to become fluent.
What is an "advanced English speaker"? I'd define it as somebody who has good control of how they use English and can use a range of vocabulary and grammar to communicate their message.
That's not to say "all grammar and vocabulary".
By teaching primarily grammar and exams, English academies and traditional classrooms are unintentionally doing you a disservice in the classroom.
People are too often held back by the way they learn a language instead of it being propelled forward.
Too many people are trained to believe that an IELTS 7 band or a Cambridge C1 certificate is all they need to finally be a fluent English speaker.
We forget that these types of exams are really only intended to be a reflection of your English ability. They are not meant to be the end-all-be-all of your English learning. Essentially, they are giving many non-native English speakers (and employers) the wrong compass to judge English ability.
The question then is, do you want to be an "advanced English speaker" or do you want to speak English fluently?
What is a 'fluent English speaker'?
English fluency is being able to smoothly and efficiently have clear communication about a wide range of topics. If you can do this, you are fluent.
Of course, there are levels to this, and there is always room for improvement. With something as subjective and deep as a foreign language, I doubt anybody will be able to say, "I've arrived", but let me share some tips that will help you feel great about your progress as well as a guide to continue.
The #1 thing to learn in order to move from an advanced speaker to a fluent English speaker are fixed expressions.
These are small groups of words that go together in a way that create their own meaning in a given context.
Let's take this sentence for example.
"Let's take _____ for example" is a fixed expression. Obviously, you're not "taking" anything to a place, but using the expression, "Let's take _____ for example" communicates in a natural way that you are going to give a specific example to illustrate a point.
This is using language naturally. Being able to do this will greatly improve your English listening, reading, and speaking because you will have these expressions in your back pocket and ready to use.
The first step is identifying them.
Next time you sit down and do a YouTube search (after you subscribe to Sweed Academy), or you go to Netflix or Amazon Prime or Disney, and you listen to English content, notice how many times you can identify expressions, word groups, and phrasal verbs.
Picking up expressions and word groups in this way will make learning phrasal verbs seem less like a school assignment and more like learning an actual language where people communicate with one another.
If you need some guidance in becoming fluent...
Book a call with our team. We are here to show you exactly how you can identify expressions and take them to use in your speaking.
On our call, we will simply ask you a few questions about your current English level, what you need to improve your English for, and we will look at where you want to go.
After that, we will assign you some specific homework centered around your goals and decide if we are a good fit to work together to get you to your goals.
Book the call either above or on the side of this blog and let's talk soon!
Finally Think Directly In English In 2021 With These 3 POWERFUL Secrets (Intermediate and Advanced Learners)
Thinking directly in a foreign language is the dream. Am I right? If I could only start thinking in English, I could finally get this monkey off my back and focus on other things I've wanted to learn.
Have you ever thought something like that?
What if I told you that you're a lot closer than you think?
In this article, I will dissect what it actually means to think directly in a foreign language, and demonstrate to you that it is not only attainable, but you're already doing it!
1. Self Talk
This comes first and foremost with anything we want to accomplish. What are the words you are currently using to describe your English and your English goals?
Are you using phrases like, "I would like to think in English." "That would be the dream." "If I could..." "I want to, but..."?
Before reading the next line, read the phrases above one more time, and observe what you notice about these expressions. What do they have in common?
They are doing one of two things:
How many accomplishments have you achieved in your life that you're proud of which are a result of focusing on what you CAN'T do?
Don't think too hard. You probably won't come up with any.
The importance of how we talk to ourselves and the words we use can not be overstated when it comes to creating the results we want.
You want to speak English fluently? Tell yourself you can.
You want to think directly in English? Tell yourself that it has already happened and be thankful for it.
Nothing good happens by telling yourself you can't do something or by making excuses.
Instead, use this sentence pattern.
"I'm so happy and grateful now that ___________."
For example, "I'm so happy and grateful now that I can finally think directly in English."
2. Focused Practice
All English is not created equal, just like all art is not created equal. This goes with any skillset.
If you want to get better at drawing hands, you probably won't spend hours practicing sculpting hands out of clay. You'll draw hands in different positions. If you play football and you're a goalie, you're probably not going to spend time perfecting your penalty kicking. You'll probably practice people kicking penalty kicks on you.
Practice what you want to improve. Period.
If you want to improve your reading and vocabulary, read more. If you want to improve your writing, write a diary or blog post every day. If you want to get better at conversation and speaking... study conversation and speaking.
Listening skills are directly related to speaking skills. This gives you a sense of the rhythm of our speech, the words and expressions we use in spoken language, and the general timing in a conversation or speech. These are all essential skills to be able to truly improve your speaking in another language.
Otherwise, you're just improving your general language skills... which is good... but it won't get you any closer to your goals of mastering this language from the inside out.
The more consistently you perform concentrated practice of the desired skill (in this case, we're talking about thinking and speaking in English), the more it will become second nature as you you form your new habit.
3. The Big Realization
The most important thing I can share with you right now about thinking directly in English is... you're already doing it!
Think about it. I'm positive that you do NOT automatically translate everything in your head before you speak in English. For example, "Yes, I do."
If you're thinking that, do you translate those words from your language? Probably not.
If you're talking about routine things in a foreign language, do you have to translate in your head? Probably not.
Sure, some complex or new sentence structures, you'll probably have to do some translation or think in your grammar first. Of course.
But this is different.
The point is that you are probably fixated on the idea that you have to constantly translate in your head. CONSTANTLY?
This goes back to the first point that we discussed above. What you say to yourself is important.
The sooner you can get past this limiting belief of "constantly having to translate in my head" to realizing and celebrating the times that you DON'T have to, the sooner you can move onto the next sentence structure or specific example when you are translating and attacking only that specific case.
Tackling a single case or example at a time is much easier and energy efficient that trying to "stop translating in my head."
"Baby steps to the bus." - What About Bob? (1991)
In summary, tell yourself that you have already reached your objective, take calculated and reasonable steps toward making that a reality by focusing on the specific skills, and realize that you truly are already thinking in English about certain topics... and then repeat that with other topics and sentence structures.
If you would like specific help identifying a certain weakness or mapping out a plan for you to follow, book a call with our team and let's chat. We will ask you some very specific questions and gauge your goals and discuss what you will have to do to achieve the goals.
There will be no pressure to buy anything in this call, we want to offer you the best options possible for you to finally reach your English-learning goals this year!
Why Advanced English Speakers Still Don't Feel 'Fluent'... And What To Do About It (3 Powerful Tricks)
There aren't many more frustrating things than spending a lot of time and money on English education, lessons, and exams only to feel like you still haven't "arrived".
The truth is, many non-native English speakers can speak well.
I'll tell you a little secret...
Most people who I've talked with and worked with can speak much better than they believe they can.
(Of course some believe they are better than they are, but that's for another post. Listen to our podcast on the Dunning-Kruger Effect.)
The problem with many non-native English speakers is their lack of objectivity.
They see ENGLISH as this insurmountable mountain that keeps growing the more they learn.
To a point, this can be good.
It can drive us to do more.
It can keep us motivated.
When we don't see an end in sight, it can be the NUMBER ONE source of demotivation, insecurity, and lack of consistency in your progress.
Lack of consistency leads to lack of fluency.
Let's fix that NOW.
Celebrate the wins. Learn from the losses.
In general, we get frustrated when we don't see progress. We don't see progress when we don't measure growth and results. Here are three simple yet powerful tricks that you can start implementing today to start noticing your true ability.
3. Track your progress.
I have two kids (at the time of writing this, they are 5 and 3-years-old. We have a system where we track their growth on the wall at the beginning of each month. In our day-to-day, we don't usually notice their growth, and then suddenly we are shocked and say, "Wow! These kids are getting so big!"
We still don't have an objective way to notice it... until it's the first of the month and we put them on the measuring wall to see how tall they've gotten.
Even the kids get excited about doing this because there is something in our DNA that gets motivated and excited at growth! It goes back to the Tony Robbins quote at the top of the page. Watch any nature documentary. Growth equals happiness. Growth in an individual. Growth in a species. Growth in an idea.
2. Accept your ability.
A unique thing about learning English as a second language as opposed to learning another language as a second language is the shame that's attached to mistakes.
It was once said, 'English speakers think they're better than they actually are at speak other languages, and non-native speakers are often better than they think they are at English.'
This mindset has lead to many people learning English and speaking it very well, but it has also caused a lot of shame to countless others who make simple mistakes.
There are fewer things that demotivate people more than shame. Unfortunately, many teachers and classes use this as a motivator.
Remember the main goal of learning a foreign language. It isn't an exam. It isn't perfection. It isn't grammar rules and an endless log of vocabulary. It's COMMUNICATION.
Get back to the basics, and you will enjoy yourself a lot more. The more you enjoy yourself communicating in another language, the more you will be able to communicate freely.
If you make a mistake, consider it a win because you've learned something new... now make sure you learn from it and grow.
1. Have a system.
As the saying goes, if you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail. The trick is knowing where you want to arrive. Without a destination, it's impossible to track your progress or accept your ability because you're not even clear on where you're going.
The first part of a solid system is knowing your destination. How will you know when you arrive?
The second part is having a clear path how to get there.
The third part is having accountability to help track your progress and keep you consistent.
In case you're interested in learning more about the 3 Elements You MUST Get Right To Have Control Of Your English, check out this training.
Most English learners don't have this because they've been conditioned through an entire life of formal education that English results come from an exam level or certificate. Sorry, but in the real world, nobody gives a damn that you have a C1 certificate. Most native speakers won't even know what that means.
What can you do? How effectively can you communicate? How do you make others feel? This is the bottom line of what fluency is truly for.
Accountability is the secret weapon.
If you've been struggling and feeling like English is controlling you instead of you controlling it, that's more normal than you think... even at higher levels.
If you want to discuss your goals and barriers, book a call with our team and let's break down some of your barriers.
On our call, you can expect:
Over 15 years of teaching English, I've been surprised at how many ADVANCED level speakers feel insecure when faced with an English speaking situation.
(I've also been surprised at some lower-level speakers have such arrogance, but that's for another post on a different day.)
The three things you need to have in the right order are:
1. Know your expectations
2. Have a plan to reach your expectations
3. Take actions to move forward to your expectation
1. Let's talk about expectations first.
What do you want to be able to do when you're speaking English?
Some of our insecurities come because our expectations are either a bit off, OR... even worse... we don't have any.
I've heard some very advanced natural speakers say things like, "I want to be native."
Sorry... you're not.... but, you have a greater opportunity that you don't seem to realize.
You can think in English in a much different way that a native speaker will NEVER be able to do.
2. What are you doing to reach your expectations?
Once we've identified an expectation from ourselves,- some people might call that a goal- the next place people get stuck is figuring out which steps will take them where they want to go.
I talk to non-native English speakers every day. Many times, we'll have very similar conversations.
Non-native: I feel frustrated with my English because the words don't come out of my mouth the way I want them to sound.
Me: That's very common. What are you currently doing to get past this?
Non-native: Well, I <talk with co-workers/ watch Netflix or YouTube in English/ read books>.
Me: And how is that working out for you?
Non-native: Good I think.
Me: ... But you told me just before that you're frustrated because you can't do what you want.
This happens all too often.
Like the classic saying goes, "A goal without a plan is a dream."
3. Put some feet on your plan.
Once we know what we want and we've created a plan of attack for the goal at hand, it's now time to take specific action towards making your expectations become a reality.
The most common place non-native English speakers get stuck at a higher level is not knowing how to continually improve.
This can be very discouraging and frustrating because you know you have the level, but there is something missing that you can't put your finger on.
Hopefully from points ONE and TWO, you can start to identify this within yourself, and you will be able to experience significant breakthroughs in your thinking.
However, there are still a little problem of HOW to improve your English by yourself.
I like how Mike Tyson put it when he was on top of the world:
"Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face." - Mike Tyson
You could have your expectations in order.
You can have a plan to continuously improve your English.
But, mark my words, there will be things that get in your way and make your progress difficult.
Your kids will get sick, the weather will be bad, there will be problems at work, you will be hungry, it will be Thursday... excuses show up in the strangest forms.
Anyway, life will throw a lot of darts and arrows at you in your journey to improve.
Unless you have a strategic plan and a way to stay disciplined, your goal of becoming a fluent English speaker who doesn't have to spend a lot of mental energy translating in your head will spend another year on the back burner.
That's just the way it is.
So, here's the key. Focus on the next couple steps. And TAKE THEM.
You have a grand vision for yourself and your future, but if we stand at the bottom of the mountain constantly looking up, we can become discouraged from even starting. Instead, put your head down, grab a guide if necessary, and take your first step... whatever that is.
I'll leave you with a powerful quote from one of my favorite philosophers, Bruce Lee:
"If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you'll never get it done. Make at least one definitive move daily towards your goals." - Bruce Lee
If you would like to talk about your specific goals and to learn how you can think directly in English without the self-doubt, hesitation, and constant paranoia of making mistakes, book a call with us and let's see where you are and where you want to go.
This will be a no-pressure call where we will ask you some questions about your English history and future, and maybe even assign some specific training to you depending on your needs. After this, we will decide if we're the right fit to work together.
Let's chat and get this monkey off your back!
Jesse J. Sweed
Jesse is the founder of Sweed Academy and The English Mind. He specializes in showing high-performing professionals how to think and speak directly in English without hesitation and self-doubt.
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