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English Harmony Podcast: Improve English Fluency | Improve Spoken English | Learn English

Improve Spoken English & English Fluency

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English Sentence Starter: “Speaking Of…”

Here’s how to improve your English listening skills when listening to my video: put the headphones on, playback the video and write it all down while listening to it! Hello my friends foreign English speakers! It’s me – Robby – from English Harmony here and this time around I’m bringing you another English idiomatic expression, namely – “SPEAKING OF…” As a matter of fact, this expression also happens to be one of the simplest English sentence starters and the only other sentence starter that can rival this one in its simplicity is “Well…” Long story short, whenever you’re asked a question and you find it a little bit difficult to respond, you can resort to the strategy of saying “SPEAKING OF…” which then is followed by the very subject of the question. Basically what you’re doing here is – you’re just REPEATING the other person’s question which is super-easy yet at the same time it adds a lot of substance to your speech. In other words – instead of just responding with a few word sentence, you may as well start your response by saying “SPEAKING OF…”, then repeat the question, and only THEN provide your answer! Now, do you want to see how this strategy works in real life? Well, what are you waiting for? Start watching the video above! Cheers, Robby

10mins

2 May 2016

Rank #1

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Correct Yourself When Speaking in English Without Others Noticing!

Here’s how to improve your English listening skills when listening to my video: put the headphones on, playback the video and write it all down while listening to it! Video Transcript Below: Hi guys! Hello boys and girls and hello my dear fellow foreign English speakers! It’s Robby here from EnglishHarmony.com obviously. And welcome – I was going to say velcome. This is one of those typical mistakes that some of us make. Instead of welcome we would say velcome. Basically instead of the “wa” sound we’d be saying “w” for some reason or another, you know. And it does happen to me on the rare occasion and now you actually witnessed that occasion but I’m not going to delete it out from the video. I’m just going to leave there on record just to prove you guys that making mistakes is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s a – I would even say an integral part of your development as a foreign English speaker, you know. Because getting rid of mistakes altogether is not possible, right? Anyhow, now I’m having my Saturday afternoon green tea. Cheers. And to a healthy lifestyle, right? Instead of coffee these days I’m rolling with green tea pretty much all the time, and especially when I’m at work, the workload is really, really big I would say. Sometimes even overwhelming so green tea keeps me energized and focused and I would really suggest you start doing the same thing, right? If you’re drinking coffee, switch over to green tea and you’re going to feel the effects of it immediately! Combine Slow Speech With Improvisation! Anyway, today’s topic is about combining the strategy of slow speech, right? You may want to click on this link to find out more about the benefits of slow speech as opposed to trying to speak very fast and you basically can combine that strategy with another strategy which is improvisation. And you may want to click on this link here to hear and read more about improvisation. That’s obviously when you’ve become really comfortable with your speech and you can just improvise on the go, right? You can, you can – and now this is actually the moment when I’m going to put that combined strategy of the two strategies into practice, right? I was saying “when you can” and actually I didn’t know what was going to follow, right? So it’s the improvisation coming into play, right? But why the slower speech also comes in handy in this particular strategy is because if I were to be speaking – I said it wrong. If I were to speak – I could have probably said if I were to be speaking but it doesn’t sound right. This is how I question myself, you see, when I say things sometimes I realize that I might have said something wrong and then I actually question myself and analyze my speech a little bit but I don’t analyze it beforehand. I don’t analyze before speaking out loud because that’s when your fluency goes out the window. Anyway, going back to the subject, if I were to speak very fast I wouldn’t be able to stop the flow of words and I would have definitely said something totally wrong. I would have messed up my speech altogether. But now that I’m speaking slowly I can pause for a split second and I can actually think of something new to say to continue on the same note. So basically I said “and then you can” and then I realized kind of okay, I didn’t really intend to use the word “can”, it just came out of my mouth by itself somehow, you know, these things happen but I’m going to take advantage of the fact that I can improvise and I’m going to take advantage of the fact that I’m speaking quite slowly, right? And I don’t have to be freaking out about it but I can just take a moment to break and figure out what I can say to continue on that note, right? Basically I said – I actually forgot what I said, I would have to rewind it back in my head. So I was saying I can combine the two strategies and then I can or you can, I forgot the exact wording, then you can implement that strategy in situations when you say something unexpected to yourself, when a word comes out of your mind by itself but it’s the wrong word which doesn’t kind of go together with the thought process that you had previously in your head so here you go. And I was going to give you more examples so that you can actually clearly see what I’m talking about, right? So for instance if I want to say that I would never think even about doing a certain thing, right? And then I start the sentence by saying “Listen, this is definitely something that I would never do, you know.” But imagine if I said the word “will” instead of the word “would”, right? So my thought is – the thought process is as follows: I would never do such a thing, right? So it’s something that I would never do. But it could happen so that the word “will” comes out of my mouth for some reason instead of “would”, right? So the sentence starts as for my intention so I’m saying “This is something that I never will…” and then I realize, hold on a second if I were to say it’s something that I will never do, it’s not really on, you know, because if I say “it’s something that I would never do” basically you’re talking about something that hasn’t even happened, right? You’re just contemplating various possibilities, okay, with regards to the future. Whereas if you were to say “it’s something that I will never do”, yeah, it’s kind of the same meaning but it kind of implies that there is a certain possibility that you would do it at some stage in the future and then you’re saying that “no, I will not actually do it”, right? So if I started the sentence “this is something that I never…” and then said the word “will” then I would probably change the continuation of the train of thoughts, right? I would kind of switch over to something slightly different and say things like “this is something that I never will even contemplate”, right? In other words, it’s something that I would never do, you know. So I hope you get the drift basically. By combining the slower speech and your innate ability to improvise, I actually believe that every one of us has that ability to improvise. We just have to reach a certain English fluency development and then provided obviously that we do a lot of spoken English practice and everything we can develop that ability, you know. And then that improvisation combined with slower speech avails you of correcting your speech so that the other person doesn’t even know that you said something wrong. Well, not necessarily wrong in grammar terms or whatever but wrong in terms of you saying something that you didn’t really intend to say in the first place as you opened your mouth. For the first time you never intended to say certain words and then they just come out of your mouth and then you can stop for a split second and change your sentence, change the flow of thoughts and maybe even change the whole conversation, you know. Because sometimes these things happen for a reason. You say something and you think why did I even say that word? But it does happen for a reason maybe. And I hope that you got the drift. I hope that I got the message across quite successfully and obviously if you have more questions about this particular strategy and how it works maybe you can actually mention some of your own examples. I’m pretty sure that some of you guys might have experienced something similar while speaking in English yourself. So feel free to publish everything in the comment section below. Thanks for checking in, thanks for watching the video and chat to you soon again, my friends. Bye-bye! Robby P.S. Would you like to find out why I’m highlighting some of the text in red? Read this article and you’ll learn why it’s so important to learn idiomatic expressions and how it will help you to improve your spoken English! P.S.S. Are you serious about your spoken English improvement? Check out my English Harmony System HERE!

9mins

17 Sep 2016

Rank #2

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Am I Forcing Myself To Speak With a Native-like English Accent?

Here’s how to improve your English listening skills when listening to my video: put the headphones on, playback the video and write it all down while listening to it! Hello my fellow foreign English speakers! The other day one of my YouTube followers asked me a question about my pronunciation and accent, here it is: Hi Robby, once again I’ve watched one of your first videos and compared to this one. The progress is amazing! But I want to ask you something – in your first videos you speak in a kind of casual, relaxed way but yes, your accent was much more significant. Though it didn’t affect the clarity of your speech. Now you have moderated you speech and some people may take you for a native speaker. But I bet this current way of speaking requires more energy and self-control so you don’t slip back into your native accent. Please, let me know if that is the case! Now, it’s a very good question, so I guessed it definitely deserved a video response from me. Watch it above and enjoy my friends! Chat soon, Robby

8mins

28 Mar 2017

Rank #3

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Q & A – I’m Very Good in the English Class So Evidently I Should Be a Fluent Speaker, Right?

Here’s how to improve your English listening skills when listening to my video: put the headphones on, playback the video and write it all down while listening to it! Hi guys, hello boys and girls and welcome back to Robby’s English Harmony video blog. And today I’m going to respond to an email that was sent in to me 19 hours ago at this stage and I think that this particular email merits my video response because it kind of highlights a general issue that happens in the larger foreign English speakers’ community, right? So I’m not going to be reading the whole email word by word but I’m just going to kind of summarize the email in a few sentences. So basically this particular blog follower of mine says that he was one of the best in the class in terms of English literature when he was in high school and then he says “which evidently means that I should be able to write and speak the language.” But in his case he could write. It’s the typical English fluency issue whereby you can write, you can understand, you can read but you cannot speak. And then he attributes certain percentages. So basically he says that he would be able to write at 80% in terms of efficiency or whatever and speaking would be only 20%, lagging behind big time, right? And the particular thing that I want to focus on in this video is, “which evidently means” so it kind of even goes without saying that once you are good at writing and reading and the literature lessons or whatever, it means that you should be able to speak full stop. There’s no further discussion. There’s no debates. No further investigation required so to speak, right? Why We Automatically Assume That Good Reading & Writing Skills = Good Speaking Skills? So why is it that we just automatically assume? It’s because the traditional English teaching methodology has created this myth because English is perceived as one big subject. So this myth has been perpetuated over decades and even centuries and so we just blindly believed, without even questioning, we just believed that once we are good at reading and writing and understanding that we should be automatically good speakers and if that’s not the case then there’s something wrong with us. And this particular person finds a problem with himself further down the email, right? He says that he thinks that his biggest issue is the fear of making mistakes and that’s why he can’t speak. Well, obviously that’s also a symptom of the typical English fluency issue but that’s not the reason, it’s just the symptom. You see? The reason, in a typical English class, in a typical literature class or whatever you do a lot of reading, writing, listening, all that kind of stuff but you don’t practice your speech. You don’t speak a lot and that’s the whole point. There are so many aspects of the English language and they should have been divided into different classes, right? So when you go and learn English literature you read and write or whatever and then there should be a specifically dedicated class to practicing spoken English. And then if that were the case then you would clearly see that. Okay, I’m lagging behind in my spoken department but it’s all because I haven’t been doing enough practice in the spoken English class or whatever. Then you would clearly see the division between the different aspects of the English language. But if it’s all bundled up in one big English lesson, we cannot distinguish the different aspects of the English language. And as a matter of fact, I’ve been going on about this thing again and again and again but I had to revisit it because people have been contacting me on a regular basis and this particular email I think was a very good representation because the person said that it evidently means that I should be able to write and speak. And it’s kind of ironic because there is no evidence but we are just led to believe that yes, it should be happening. But it’s not the case. Just because you can read and write, there is no correlation between your reading and writing skills and your spoken English ability. Maybe some remote, remote correlation. Obviously if you cannot understand and read and write at all obviously you’re not going to be able to speak and vice versa. If you are very good at reading and writing you would be able to say something, right? It’s not as if you won’t be able to say anything at all. So there is obviously a relationship between those aspects of the English language but the whole point is that – the bottom line basically is that you develop specific aspects of the English language and you are what you do. Remember – You Are What You Do! If you are an English reader and that’s all you do you become fluent at reading. If you speak a lot and practice your spoken English, then you become a very good speaker. You become a fluent speaker. If you write a lot and spend a lot of time writing then you become a very, very good English writer. Those are the different distinct aspects of the English language. So hopefully this video is going to clear that up for you my friend. And yeah, basically on the finishing note let me tell you that the fear of making mistakes is not the reason you are unable to speak fluently. It’s a manifestation if the fluency issue if you will. It’s one of the symptoms but the true reason is you haven’t been practicing your spoken English. If there’s enough practice behind you, no fear will stand in the way of your success. Yes, it will hamper your performance somewhat but provided that you’ve been doing a lot of practicing and preparing for a specific event for example, no amount of fear is going to render your spoken English facilities totally unusable so to speak. So thanks for watching my friends and chat to you soon again. Bye-bye! Robby P.S. Would you like to find out why I’m highlighting some of the text in red? Read this article and you’ll learn why it’s so important to learn idiomatic expressions and how it will help you to improve your spoken English! P.S.S. Are you serious about your spoken English improvement? Check out my English Harmony System HERE!

7mins

19 Mar 2017

Rank #4

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Watch This If You Have Total English Grammar Confusion!

Recently I got contacted by one of my blog readers and she told me that the more she thinks about the various English grammar tenses, the more confusing the whole thing gets… On a lot of occasions it seems that you can use a number of different Tenses, for instance – “I’m going to the movies tonight”, “I’ll go to the movies”, “I’ll be going to the movies” – so how do you know which one is right? And the more you analyze all this kind of stuff, the more confusing it gets and eventually you start feeling that you know nothing about English grammar! Now, watch this video above where I’m giving precious advice on how to approach such a state of mind, and if you’ve got any questions – don’t hesitate to publish them in the comments section below! Robby P.S.S. Are you serious about your spoken English improvement? Check out my English Harmony System HERE!

19mins

1 Sep 2016

Rank #5

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We Create English Fluency Issues for Ourselves!

Here’s how to improve your English listening skills when listening to my video: put the headphones on, playback the video and write it all down while listening to it! This one may come as a shock to you, my friends, but the fact of the matter is that sometimes those terrible problems we experience with our English fluency are our own making. Yes, you heard me right – we create a lot of our fluency issues for ourselves, and there’s no-one else to blame for it but us! Sure enough, we’re not even aware of the fact that we’re contributing to our inability to speak fluent English, but the good news is that it is relative easy to get our fluency back on track if you know the right techniques and methods, and that’s exactly what today’s video is all about. So don’t despair, watch the video and you may just learn the right approach to fix your fluency issues on 5 occasions out of 10! Chat soon, Robby

13mins

17 Feb 2016

Rank #6

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Practical English Grammar Present Perfect vs. Simple Past

Fluent English can ONLY be acquired by learning IDIOMATIC EXPRESSIONS – and that’s why I’m going to highlight them for you in RED! Here’s how to improve your English listening skills when listening to my video: put the headphones on, playback the video and write it all down while listening to it! Video Transcript Below: Hi guys, hello boys and girls and welcome back to Robby’s English Harmony video blog. Currently I’m having my Monday morning tea. Cheers! You see how big, how huge this mug is? This is the kind of mug I like, you know what I mean? This is what I call proper tea drinking. You can make yourself almost a liter of tea and drink it, right? Anyhow, in today’s video I’m going to look at the following topic: Simple Past versus Present Simple. And this is, as a matter of fact, a thing that confuses the hell out of so many foreign English speakers, right? And ironically enough I haven’t actually recorded a video about this particular topic in the past which is kind of weird because I’ve been publishing my videos for years on end. At this stage it’s actually 8 years since I’m running the English Harmony blog or actually 9 years. Yeah, going 9 years this year to be honest with you. I started it in 2007 if I’m not mistaken so next year going 10 years, you know what I mean? It is going to be a big anniversary. Anyhow, it’s surprising that I haven’t actually touched upon this particular topic comparing the simple past “I did it” for instance against present simple “I’ve done it” and when you use one or the other, you know what I mean? And the reason I’m saying that it confuses the hell out of so many foreigners is because I’ve had first-hand experience dealing with people who are not really sure on how to use these two tenses, right? As a matter of fact, one of my Fluency Star students served as an inspiration for this video because that person was kind of not really sure on how it’s done and then I explained it to her and she was very happy about my explanation because it’s pretty straight forward if you boil it down to the very basics, right? So first things first, “I’ve done it.” For instance “I’ve been to London” which is not really true in my case because believe it or not, I’ve never been to London, right? And it’s very weird because I live in Ireland which is very close to England, so it’s just one small hop with a plane, like a half an hour flight or something and you’re in London, you know what I mean? And with these days’ prices where you can go to London just paying literally 20 or 30 Euros, you know what I mean? It’s no excuse not to go there but on the downside obviously when you go there you have to book a hotel and so on and so forth. And then you have to go sightseeing and all those costs add up and eventually you end up spending a fortune, you know what I mean? So I guess I’ve just kept putting it off and off and off. And anyhow, I’m going to do it one fine day I would imagine but anyhow, going back to the subject; “I’ve been to London,” right? And then you can also say I went to London, okay? So what is the difference? First things first, you don’t have to be kind of analyzing your English language – language? What did I just say? Language. See, I just made a mistake but it just goes to show that making mistakes is a crucial part of the whole fluency improvement thing, right? Anyhow, you see, today I’m all over the place. I just keep varying up the subject and touching upon random things. So “I’ve been to London, right?” It’s a general statement. You’re not specifying a specific point in time. And mark this guys, point in time. This is the crucial bit, right? Whenever there is a time mentioned, a specific time, a year, a day, month, week, whatever, that’s when you use simple past. Simple Past for Time References I went to London last year. I went to London 10 years ago. I went to London last Monday. That’s simple past, you know? You don’t use the present tense, the simple present, “I’ve been to London” when it’s followed up with a specific time. And when I say specific time, please don’t be thinking that I’m talking about a very specific like time of the day; even a year is quite specific, right? Perfect Simple For General Statements So you use perfect simple only when you don’t refer to any time at all, like I mean there’s no time reference mentioned basically. No years, nothing, you know. “I’ve been to London.” And you can obviously say I’ve been to London 5 times but this time reference, you know, 5 times is not the same as referring to a particular year or a month or a day, you know? It’s just saying how many times you’ve been to London. So I think the best way – excuse me, I’ve got to take a sip of tea. So I think that the best way of kind of wrapping your head around this concept is by kind of getting used to the concept of using the perfect present in the beginning of a story when you don’t use any time references. So basically you would say “you know what? I’ve been to London a good few times” or “as a matter of fact I’ve never been to London,” you know what I mean? And then after that point you can start using the simple past, right? And here is how it happens. “You know what? I’ve been to London 10 times at this stage, you know. I’ve been there 10 times. Las time I went there was last summer and before that I went there every, every year for 10 years in a row,” you know? So you use the perfect simple – no, present. Sorry I’m getting all mixed up in these grammar terms but it’s just because I’m not using these grammar terms. I’m not all about these grammar terms. If I were a traditional English teacher that would be all about the grammar terms, then I imagine I wouldn’t be getting mixed up in these terms. But I said it wrong; I said perfect simple or something. No, it’s perfect present that I wanted to say, right? So you use perfect present “I’ve been to London” in the beginning of the story when you’re making a general statement. You’re basically stating the fact that you’ve actually been to London, you know? And then you start using the simple past. Simple Past to Tell a Story – One Event Follows Another I went there with my friends, so that’s kind of a storytelling, you know what I mean? When one event follows another. We went there and then we actually had booked a hotel beforehand. And now I use the past present tense. And you may want to click on this link where I’m explaining how that would be used, basically when you’re referring to a point in time which had happened before the general story-line, right? And then we went sightseeing and then we went to different restaurants and all the different museums and we visited the Big Ben and – what’s the palace called where the Queen lives? Westminster Palace or whatever? I’m not really familiar with these terms but anyway, you get the drift, right? So you make the general statement in the beginning and then follow it up with simple past where you tell the story, where you went, when you went there, who you went with, what you did there and so on and so forth, right? Start With Present Perfect, Then Continue With Simple Past! So to recap the whole thing, present perfect is used to make general statements about what you did or what you didn’t do in the past. But it’s very general. It’s lacking any references whatsoever to years, days, months, weeks, whatever, you don’t mention about it, right? But then when you start talking about specific times, that’s when you introduce the simple past, right? So I hope that this video is going to clarify this whole issue for you and just to let you know there was a comment recently. Oh yeah. Actually 9 hours ago at this stage posted where one of my blog readers asks me where to use “gone” and “went,” right? And actually this one was the reason I actually recorded the video right now because I read the comment and then I realized hold on a second, I haven’t actually addressed this particular issue in a video. And then I remembered my Fluency Star student who had the same issue and I was like okay, let’s make a video about it! So I hope that this video is going to be useful for you my friends. And obviously if you have any further questions please feel free to publish them in the comment section below. Thank you and bye-bye! Robby P.S. Would you like to find out why I’m highlighting some of the text in red? Read this article and you’ll learn why it’s so important to learn idiomatic expressions and how it will help you to improve your spoken English! P.S.S. Are you serious about your spoken English improvement? Check out my English Harmony System HERE!

9mins

3 Dec 2016

Rank #7

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The State of “The Flow” and Its Importance When Improving Your English

Here’s how to improve your English listening skills when listening to my video: put the headphones on, playback the video and write it all down while listening to it! Video Transcript Below Hi guys, hello boys and girls! Hello my dear fellow foreign English speakers and welcome back to Robby’s English Harmony video blog! Today let’s talk about THE FLOW. And I read about the concept of flow or should I say THE flow? Because it’s a particular state of mind. And I read about that concept a while ago while I was doing a little bit of research into the subject of procrastination. We all – I suppose – have that quality to procrastinate sometimes. You know, it’s a vice because it’s a terrible feeling, you know? You know exactly what you’ve got to do but you just can’t do it for whatever reasons. You just find yourself constantly getting distracted. For instance if I had a task of writing an article for instance I would find myself making cups of coffee every 15 minutes and checking my email and checking my website’s stats and whatever. And then 5 or 6 hours later the article still wouldn’t be even started. I would have only 1 or 2 paragraphs. And so that’s the typical case of procrastination. And I’ve been guilty of that at certain stages in my life. And I was doing a little bit of research into it and I found out that people who don’t procrastinate they can achieve the state of mind whereby they are fully immersed into the activity at hand so their mind doesn’t even wander. And that’s the so-called state of THE FLOW. When you’re in the flow you are super creative, you are enjoying that particular activity to the fullest, right? You don’t even think about anything else. Nothing else exists. So drawing parallels with creating written content for example for my website, that would be just me just writing about the subject, right? I would be fully immersed into it. I would know exactly what I have to say, obviously a little bit of planning goes a long way, and that would have to be done beforehand to know what you want to say but for as long as that’s done I would be into it and nothing would stop me. I would be totally unstoppable, right? So how does this concept of the flow relate to spoken English performance? Well, it’s the same thing. We all have that particular state of mind which is triggered by whatever reasons, right? When we can speak in English almost like native English speakers. And it doesn’t matter, our level of English. Well, obviously if you were a total beginner, you wouldn’t have that ability to even speak fluently. But then again, you wouldn’t be able to listen to this video anyway, right? So this whole English Harmony project is obviously geared towards those foreign English speakers who’ve already achieved a decent level of speech and understanding and that sort of thing. So it goes without saying that all you guys have that ability to be in that flow, in that state of mind whereby you can speak just like native English speakers but oftentimes external factors prevent you from doing that. And those factors are multifaceted such as people making you anxious. Obviously you don’t have to blame others, it’s all on you, kind of, but those people play a big role in the whole thing, in your ability to speak and deliver your English speech. So if people make you anxious, if you are trying to compare your speech with the other person’s, especially if they’re a native English speaker, that will have a detrimental effect on your fluency. And if you want to impress others with your speech, if you’re under pressure to deliver, for example you have to deliver a speech or whatever or you’re attending an interview or you just start a new job and you want to deliver in your position and you’re speaking with your colleagues, your customers, your superiors and you want to achieve that level of fluency and deliver that speech that’s required for your particular position. And obviously all those factors would have sometimes a detrimental effect on your fluency. It can kind of backfire on you and you will find yourself not being able to deliver it. So if you can eliminate all those factors you will be able to achieve that state of the flow where you can speak totally unhindered, you wouldn’t even have to think about how you say it or what you say. Well, obviously you have to know what are you talking about, right? But the point I’m trying to make is that we all have that ability to achieve that state of mind where we can perform just like native English speakers, just like I do now, right? I’m not, obviously, bragging. I’m not trying to say that I’m speaking just like a native English speaker but I’m talking about the feeling that I have, you know? I feel like I’m speaking like one, you know? I feel totally unhindered; I’m giving my fluency totally a free rein so to speak. And in order to achieve that in my opinion the best way to go about it is just do a lot of spoken English self-practice when you are on your own. It kind of goes back to the same again: on your own you are totally unhindered. There’s nobody to prevent you from speaking just the way you want. And you can experiment with different types of speech, different speeds, different ways of pronouncing certain words and so on and so forth. And eventually, you will be able to nail it. Through a lot of experimentation you will be able to nail that state of the flow. And once you’re in it you will be like “Wow, this is it. This is the real deal. I can speak fluently!” So once you’ve achieved that state of the flow you can carry that feeling with you at all times. And whenever you feel like you’re not performing well, whenever you have that bad fluency day for instance you can always go back in your mind and remember that, yes, I know how to achieve the flow feeling and if I practice on my own again I will be able to go back there and that will reinforce your confidence as a foreign English speaker. So that’s my message for you today, my friends. I hope that you enjoyed it. And obviously if you have any further comments please don’t hesitate to publish them in the comment section below. Thank you and bye-bye! Robby P.S. Would you like to find out why I’m highlighting some of the text in red? Read this article and you’ll learn why it’s so important to learn idiomatic expressions and how it will help you to improve your spoken English! P.S.S. Are you serious about your spoken English improvement? Check out my English Harmony System HERE!

7mins

4 Feb 2017

Rank #8

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English Idiomatic Expression: “To The Best of My Knowledge”

Here’s how to improve your English listening skills when listening to my video: put the headphones on, playback the video and write it all down while listening to it! Hi guys, hello boys and girls and welcome back to Robby’s English Harmony video blog! Today I decided to bring another English idiomatic expression video to you and this time around the video in question is – no, not the video in question, the phrase, the expression in question! Sorry guys for making this mistake but I’m just going to leave it here on record so that you can see that Robby is not really afraid of making mistakes, he practices what he preaches and that’s the path that you should be going down as well if you’re anything serious about your English fluency improvement that is, right? So basically don’t be afraid, don’t be embarrassed of making mistakes, saying something wrong, going back, correcting yourself, it’s all part of the game. Anyway, going back to the original subject, the expression in question for today is “to the best of my knowledge”, right? So if you’re interested in learning how to use this particular English idiomatic expression, just bear with me for a few more moments and everything is going to become crystal clear to you my friends! Example #1 So welcome back guys. Now, basically how to use the idiomatic expression “to the best of my knowledge”? Let me give you a very simple example sentence, right? To the best of my knowledge I haven’t actually recorded a video about the English idiomatic expression “to the best of my knowledge”, right? It’s like a joke but anyway, I hope I made you laugh! So I hope that you could clearly understand what way the phrase “to the best of my knowledge” is used in this particular example, right? It’s basically as if I were to say as far as I’m aware, right? Same thing, right? Much of a muchness which is an expression I learned years ago which means that the two things are pretty much the same, right? Much of a muchness. It doesn’t matter which way you go, right? So as far as I’m aware I haven’t recorded a video about the phrase “to the best of my knowledge”. “To the best of my knowledge” I haven’t recorded and so on and so forth. So pretty much the same meaning, right is carried by both of these phrases. Speaking of which, I actually recorded the videos about similar phrases, right? Such as “if I’m not mistaken” and “correct me if I’m wrong”, right? And you may want to click on this link which is going to take you to the respective page on my blog where you’ll be able to watch a video about those two phrases. And actually all these four phrases “to the best of my knowledge”, “as far as I’m aware”, “if I’m not mistaken”, “correct me if I’m wrong” they’re pretty much interchangeable. Having said that, I have to admit that “if I’m not mistaken”, “correct me if I’m wrong” kind of involves a little bit more doubt factor, right? In that particular situation I’m probably only 50-50 sure that what I’m saying is right or 60-40 or something like that, right? But “to the best of my knowledge” that’s quite a big certainty, right? So whatever you’re saying, whatever statement you’re making you’re pretty sure of that, right? Example #2 And now let me just give you a few more example sentences so that you can develop the feeling, the instinct for using this particular phrase, right? Let’s say you’re showing someone how to install a Windows operating system, right? As a matter of fact that’s something that I did today in the college, right? I was guiding one person through all the steps necessary to install – what was it? – rooting an active directory services on the Windows 2012 server machine, right? And I was going through the wizard and he was asking “Hold on a second, do you see those options there, Robby? Do you not have to tick them as well?” And I said to him “Listen, to the best of my knowledge you just ignore them. You just go next, next, next, bam, bam, bam, install, that’s going to be done for you.” Right? So that was a typical example. So you’re basically saying to someone “Listen, to the best of my knowledge this is the way it’s done.” And this is basically when it comes to certain procedures and whatnot. That’s when you typically would be using this phrase in your work environment, right? Someone asks you for advice and they kind of slightly doubt that, they question it and then you say “Well, to the best of my knowledge that’s the way it works.” If you’re in doubt you may want to ask someone else but to the best of my knowledge, as far as I’m aware that’s the way it is, right? Example #3 And let me think… can I think of another example? I suppose you could use this one when talking about some facts, right? When you’re saying something that you might have read before, that someone might have told you before but you’re not a 100% sure of that you can say “Well, to the best of my knowledge you’re not supposed to pour boiling water over tea. If you put your teabag in a tea cup you’re not supposed to boil water and pour it immediately over the tea, right? You have to – I suppose – cool it down for something like 2 or 3 minutes or something like that so that its temperature drops from a 100 degrees Celsius down to 95 or something. And I think I’m pretty sure that I read it somewhere. So to the best of my knowledge that’s the way you go about making tea in the ideal set of circumstances, right?” Example #4 And to finish off this video I should probably come up with another example. Well, let me see, let’s say for example that you’re chatting with a friend of yours and that person – basically it’s an informal conversation – that person, that friend of yours is saying that he thinks that – let’s assume for argument’s sake that your friend’s name is Mark and you’re talking about Sally. And Mark is telling you that Sally is going out with someone, right? And then you’re saying to your friend “Now listen, buddy, that’s not the way it is. To the best of my knowledge Sally only broke up with Peter last week so there is no way she could be possibly going out with someone. It’s only been a week since her breakup. So to the best of my knowledge that’s not true. I don’t know who might have told you that but that’s just rumors is all, right?” So this was the last and final example of using the idiomatic expression to the best of my knowledge in a conversation. So please make sure that you do a lot of spoken English self-practicing where you use this particular phrase and also if you happen to have conversations with other people don’t hesitate to use this particular phrase in your conversations to make sure that that speech pattern is imprinted into your brain and into your mouth which is the most important part of the whole English fluency thing, right? So thanks for watching this video! Obviously if you have any questions post them in the comment section below. Don’t forget to like this video and subscribe to my channel if you haven’t already done so and chat to you soon again. Bye-bye!

7mins

8 Aug 2016

Rank #9

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English Grammar Construct “Couldn’t Have Been”

Here’s how to improve your English listening skills when listening to my video: put the headphones on, playback the video and write it all down while listening to it! Video Transcript Below: Hello my dear fellow foreign English speakers! It’s Robby here from EnglishHarmony.com and welcome back to my video blog. Today I’m bringing you another English idiomatic expression video but unlike other English idiomatic expression videos where I’m focusing on typical English idioms and phrasal words and collocations today I’m bringing you what I like to call a grammar construct. And the grammar construct in question is “couldn’t have been”. At first if you just look at “couldn’t have been,” it might confuse you. You might try and figure out what it means in grammar terms. What the English grammar tense represents and all that sort of thing but you don’t have to do it. And you may actually want to read this article where I’m talking about it that you don’t have to try and figure out what exactly something means in grammar terms, okay? All you’ve got to do is just repeat that particular grammar construct, memorize it and then you’ll be able to use it in relevant situations without knowing what it represents, right? And the funny thing is that prior to recording this video I was kind of thinking to myself “Hold on, I have to look it up and see what it actually means, what kind of tense it is.” But I’m not going to get bogged down on these grammar terms just like I told you because it serves no purpose whatsoever, okay? So all you’ve got to do is just repeat it, memorize it and then you’ll be able to use it. And the first example sentence that I’m going to give to you containing “couldn’t have been” is “couldn’t have been done without”, right? And typically you would use it when describing when a particular thing, some sort of an assignment or something couldn’t have been done without the help of someone else or without using some tool or some piece of software or whatever. So for instance your boss is asking you how you got done with the job, simple as, and you tell them “Listen, yeah, I got it done but it couldn’t have been done without the help of my colleague here. So a lot of credit goes to him. It wasn’t just me who got the job done because it couldn’t have been done without him.” Okay? And this is a typical way of using this particular grammar construct, right? So you have to do some spoken practice whereby you come up with your own fictional scenario. Obviously you use your own workplace or college you attend or whatever and then you kind of put yourself in that situation when you are communicating with someone and then you use that phrase. And then next time around when such a situation presents itself you’ll be quite automatically able to use that phrase, okay? Next example. Couldn’t have been more pleased. And it’s a typical way of saying that you were very, very pleased. I couldn’t have been more pleased. Or I couldn’t have been happier. When someone asks you “Did you enjoy when your work colleagues congratulated you on your birthday?” Then you can tell them “Listen, I couldn’t have been happier because I was totally shocked, that was a complete surprise, I didn’t even expect that and I couldn’t have been happier”, right? And the third example is “couldn’t have been prevented.” Often times people talk about some disasters or catastrophes or incidents and people wonder whether they could have been prevented or not and then unfortunately sometimes the conclusion is that despite the fact that in retrospect we can think of a lot of things that kind of could have prevented that particular catastrophe from happening, sometimes it couldn’t have been prevented because there are certain things that are just bound to happen. And for instance the tsunami that happened all those years ago – 10 years ago at this stage I would imagine – that wiped out so many people’s lives in Southeast Asia. It couldn’t have been prevented. A lot of the fatalities probably could have been prevented but the actual catastrophe, this tsunami itself couldn’t have been prevented, you know, it’s one of those things that just happens that we have to accept that reality of life. So I hope that you’re going to be using this particular grammar construct “couldn’t have been” and just like I told you don’t try and figure out what it represents whether it’s passive or active voice or what kind of tense it is. It serves no purpose. It doesn’t matter. All that matters is that you can use it. Okay? So I hope that you enjoyed watching this video and just like I told you a million times before do some spoken English practice. If you just watch this video without any practice whatsoever, this video is not going to serve any purpose. Okay? So if you have any questions obviously publish them in the comment section below. And chat to you soon my friends. Bye-bye! Robby P.S. Would you like to find out why I’m highlighting some of the text in red? Read this article and you’ll learn why it’s so important to learn idiomatic expressions and how it will help you to improve your spoken English! P.S.S. Are you serious about your spoken English improvement? Check out my English Harmony System HERE!

5mins

18 Jan 2017

Rank #10

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English Idiomatic Expression “Good Night’s Sleep”

Here’s how to improve your English listening skills when listening to my video: put the headphones on, playback the video and write it all down while listening to it! Video Transcript Below Hi guys, that’s me, Robby from EnglishHarmony.com and welcome back to my video blog! Currently I’m having my morning tea. As a matter of fact, it’s green tea with lemon. One smart person suggested a while back that I drink green tea with lemon as a way of boosting my immune system and whatnot and it actually helped, you know what I mean? So that was a very wise suggestion on that person’s part. Anyhow, today we’re going to look at the following English idiomatic expression. As a matter of fact, I forgot what the expression was. Seriously, what’s wrong with me? It just slipped my mind. I cannot believe that, it’s unbelievable. I remember it now but it just goes to show that my head is full of different thoughts and everything and it’s all too easy to me to forget the stuff that I actually wanted to put in this video, right? So today’s idiomatic expression is a “good night’s sleep”, right? And it may sound very simple. In fact, it’s super simple, a good night’s sleep, right? When you’ve had a good night’s sleep obviously you slept very well. However, there’s a reason for me to creating a whole video dedicated to this particular idiomatic expression. And if you want to find out what the reason is, please bear with me for a few more minutes and everything is going to become crystal clear to you, my friends. So welcome back. A good night’s sleep. Last night I had a really, really good night’s sleep. Well, as a matter of fact come to think of it the day before was even better, you know what I mean? This morning I actually forced myself to wake up earlier, 6:30 which is by my earlier standards it’s still quite late, it’s just that I’m on my holidays at the moment and lately I’ve been sleeping in in mornings and I’ve gotten used to getting up at 9 o’clock or even after 9 which is super late, you know. So on those mornings when I got up past 9 actually, I rolled out of my bed at 8:30 or something I really had a good night’s sleep, you know what I mean? I slept like a baby and I cannot remember when would have been the last time I had such a great sleep. So when I slept till 9 or even past that, I really had a good night’s sleep. Last night I can’t really complain. It was still better than getting up at 5:30 in the morning which is my typical getting up time in the morning on my working days but I still had a good night’s sleep. And now, speaking of the reason why I decided to dedicate a whole video to this phrase, the reason is simple enough. A lot of my students as you may know and for those of you who didn’t know, yes, I’ve been coaching people via Skype face to face. It was a program called Fluency Star and the website is still there, FluencyStar.com, it’s just that I’m not taking any more students currently because I just can’t handle it, you know what I mean? There’s only so many hours in my day and I come home very late at night and I just cannot do that. But anyhow, a lot of those students and when we talked about sleeping and related matters I actually think that none of them could use this phrase “good night’s sleep”. And they tried describing the concept of having had a good sleep in a different way and obviously it came across slightly awkward because as you may know, native English speakers refer to things in a specific manner, you know what I mean? So a lot of concepts are described in a specific way and if you’re trying to describe them in a different way it just doesn’t sound right. And “a good night’s sleep” is one of those examples, you know? No matter what other way you put it, you know, my sleep was good or whatever, it doesn’t kind of come across as a native-like speech. So that’s the reason why I decided to record this video. So next time around when you have to tell someone that you really had a good night’s sleep, that you slept really, really well you have to use this expression “I had a good night’s sleep.” And that’s another tiny little step towards your English fluency, towards your goal of speaking just like a native English speaker. Thanks for watching this video, my friends! If you have any further questions obviously, please feel free to publish them in the comment section below down there and chat to you soon again. Bye-bye! Robby P.S. Would you like to find out why I’m highlighting some of the text in red? Read this article and you’ll learn why it’s so important to learn idiomatic expressions and how it will help you to improve your spoken English! P.S.S. Are you serious about your spoken English improvement? Check out my English Harmony System HERE!

5mins

20 Jan 2017

Rank #11

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English Sentence Starter: “I Heard Somewhere That…”

Here’s how to improve your English listening skills when listening to my video: put the headphones on, playback the video and write it all down while listening to it! Hi guys, today I’m bringing you yet another English idiomatic expression, and this time around it’s a super handy sentence starter: I HEARD SOMEWHERE THAT… Why am I saying it’s a super handy sentence starter? Well, the reason behind that is simple enough – it’s a perfect way of starting a conversation with someone about something that you’ve heard somewhere, which is what a lot of conversations are all about! Let’s say, for argument’s sake, you want to tell your work colleague that there’s way more bacteria on the average mobile phone than on a toilet seat. In theory, nothing could be easier than that, right? Just open your mouth and tell him about it! In reality, what a lot of foreign English speakers will struggle with is – HOW TO START THE DAMN SENTENCE! One way of going about it would be to simply state the fact: “There’s way more bacteria on the average mobile phone than on a toilet seat”, but in this case you’re really running the risk of sounding a bit awkward. I mean – who just says something like that out of the blue, right? So I think that anyone would quite instinctively feel that there’s a need for something to PRECEED the actual statement, and that’s exactly where the phrase I HEARD SOMEWHERE THAT… steps in! You just have to admit that if you address your work colleague this way: “Listen Josh, I HEARD SOMEWHERE THAT there’s way more bacteria on the average mobile phone than on a toilet seat, isn’t that mad?” – it will sound way more native-like, and that’s exactly the way you want to sound! So, what are you waiting for? Watch the video above to learn more about using this particular English sentence starter, and by the way – you’ll also learn that there’s a very similar expression: I READ SOMEWHERE THAT… which can be used to refer to facts that you would have read somewhere instead of just heard somewhere. Let me know if you’ve any questions! Cheers, Robby

6mins

21 May 2016

Rank #12

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Why It’s So HARD to Accept Spoken English Can Be Practiced?

Video Transcript Below: Hi guys, hello boys and girls, hello my dear fellow foreign English speakers! It’s Robby here from EnglishHarmony.com and welcome back to my video blog. Let’s talk about the subject of spoken English self-practice again for the millionth time. But in case you’re thinking “Robby, come on, you’ve been talking about it in every single video for the last couple of months.” Hold on a second, just bear with me for a moment and you’ll realize that today I’m going to reveal a certain aspect of the whole spoken English self-practice thing that hasn’t been talked about before. And to be honest with you guys, I didn’t even realize that it existed up until today, when I happened to receive an email from one of my blog readers. And I actually sent him an email a couple of days before that, telling him that spoken English practice, basically speaking is the only way that’s going to develop his fluency, his ability to speak for that matter. And I didn’t explicitly mention in the email that speaking with himself is one of the options. I only spoke about speaking in general terms and then I went on to give him a few tips and tricks on how to approach the whole speaking thing but I never explicitly mentioned that if you don’t have anyone else to talk to, you can do self-practice in the comfort of your own home. Okay? Next thing I know that person responds by saying “Listen Robby, it’s not going to work. I can’t, I can’t heed to your advice because I can’t speak. There’s no one for me to speak with!” Generally SPEAKING Associates With Interpersonal Communication ONLY! And only then I realized – it was some sort of a light bulb moment, I realized that for some people speaking is only associated with communication with other people, right? And when you think about it, it actually makes an awful lot of sense because when you grow up as a human being, when you develop from the stage of infancy and then you start pronouncing the first words, repeating what you hear around you and then you start speaking with your parents and friends and all that, you don’t probably even think about speaking with yourself because you only speak with other people. That’s the most natural thing. And then at some stage in your life when you start learning the second language, if it happens so that you learn it by way of speaking – the natural way. If you live in a bilingual country for instance, just like I did, in my country they speak Latvian and Russian, so I learned Russian by way of speaking. I can’t actually remember when I learned the Russian language; I just kind of know that I always spoke it. But it’s because I was playing with Russian kids as a little kid myself, so I just learned it the natural way. But if you start learning the second or the third language in school, in the traditional language teaching setting where you only do textbook exercises, filling gaps in the different exercises and read a lot and listen, you don’t – nobody tells you that you can practice your speech with yourself, right? You only assume that you can do the very same thing you’ve done in your native language, maybe in your second language – speak with others, okay? When You Don’t Have Anyone to Speak With in English – You’re Lost… And just because there’s no opportunities to speak with others when it comes down to the English language, you’re lost. You don’t even realize, there’s no concept of self-practice because you just never knew that it existed. So it can’t even cross your mind. It can’t occur to you. And this is something that I didn’t even think about because for me personally, the whole concept of spoken English self-practice has become second nature. And it’s been like that for long, long years now and I can’t actually imagine myself without it, you know. And just because I’ve been communicating about the whole thing from my videos for years on end now, I assume that everyone who I come in contact with will quite automatically realize what I’m talking about. Even When I Say That You’ve Got to SPEAK, Speaking With Yourself Doesn’t Even Occur to You! But the fact of the matter is that most people out there who haven’t heard about the concept of spoken English self-practice, even if you tell them that you’ve got to speak which I thought was just enough information to make them realize that they can speak with themselves, even then they don’t realize it! You have to explicitly tell them!And when you tell them that, most people are shocked because the whole concept seems something weird, something strange. And I want you to read an article that I published a year ago. You can click on the link right here and it’s called “Why it’s so hard to realize you have to speak in order to speak?” Right? And back then and up until now obviously I thought that this is the only issue that for most of us it’s difficult to realize that you have to speak in order to develop your fluency because of the bad job that the traditional English teaching study has done to us, right? We’ve been brainwashed and now we believe that we can read, write, listen and that way become fluent English speakers, right? So that’s why it’s so hard to realize that you’ve got to speak. But here’s the thing that I’m talking about today. Here’s a whole new issue. Basically, even if you convince a person that they have to speak, it requires an additional effort to make them understand that they can speak with themselves and that there’s so many advantages to do spoken English self-practice such as zero stress levels and you can make as many mistakes as you want and you can record your speech on a camcorder, go back and self-correct and all those sort of things. So there’s a million advantages and no disadvantages at all, right? So that’s the message I wanted to send to you guys. In case you happened to be that person who didn’t realize up until now that you can speak with yourself, please start doing that on a daily basis. And if you know some other people who would benefit from this advice, don’t hesitate to tell them that. Tell them Robby told you to speak with yourself and that’s the only way to improve your English fluency if you don’t have any opportunities to speak with other people, right? So I hope that what I was trying to communicate with you guys makes an awful lot of sense! So obviously, if you have any questions or comments of any nature – preferably something that’s got to do with spoken English improvement – post them I the comment section below. Chat to you soon and bye-bye! Robby P.S. Would you like to find out why I’m highlighting some of the text in red? Read this article and you’ll learn why it’s so important to learn idiomatic expressions and how it will help you to improve your spoken English! P.S.S. Are you serious about your spoken English improvement? Check out my English Harmony System HERE!

6mins

4 Feb 2016

Rank #13

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English Idiomatic Expressions: “I’ve Been Meaning to… Never Get Around to…”

Here’s how to improve your English listening skills when listening to my video: put the headphones on, playback the video and write it all down while listening to it! Video Transcript Below: Hi guys. Here’s the funny thing. I’ve been meaning to record this particular video for a while now but finally, when I got around to it yesterday, all sorts of weird thing started happening. I tried to record it two times in a row but every time when I connected the camcorder to the laptop, there was nothing there. There were no files to be found and it was very weird to say the least! And as you noticed guys, I actually used today’s phrases in this sentence. So this was the first sample sentence actually. “I’ve been meaning to do something” and the second one is “to get around to doing something”. And depending on whether you refer to a past event or things in general, you will say either “got ‘round to doing something” or “get ‘round to doing something”. And you will also notice that I don’t say “get around,” I said conversationally. I shortened the word “around” to just ’round basically. I omit the “A” letter, just stick an apostrophe there and it becomes ’round. That’s what native English speakers say conversationally and that’s what I’m sticking with. So do you want to find out more about these two idiomatic expressions “I’ve been meaning to do something” and “to get ’round to doing something”? Well, bear with me for a few more moments and everything is going to become crystal clear to you my friends! Don’t Analyze These Phrases From the Grammar Standpoint! Welcome back. So, I’ve been meaning to do something. Please guys, don’t start analyzing this sentence from the grammar standpoint. Don’t start thinking, “hold on, what kind of a tense is it? What voice is represented there?” I’ve been meaning to do something. Don’t analyze it at all! Just take it for what it is. It’s a phrase that simply means that you wanted to do something for a long time and just repeat it. “I’ve been meaning to do something. I’ve been meaning to. I’ve been meaning to.” And then it becomes your second nature. You can just produce it yourself when speaking obviously, whether you speak with someone else or do some spoken English self-practice. And you don’t need to analyze it at all. You don’t need to figure out what it represents. Okay? It’s immaterial. And to tell you the truth guys prior to recording this video I was kind of thinking, hold on, maybe I should let my audience know what tense and voice it is but then I caught myself doing that and I realized, hold on a second Robby, if you were to do that, you would actually go against everything you stand for because the English Harmony philosophy is to get rid of the grammar concepts altogether. Okay? And that’s what I’ve been doing for the last number of years. And to tell you the truth, my grammar knowledge has actually all but disappeared. If you were to ask me a very simple grammar related question, maybe I wouldn’t even know that unless I did some deeper research into it. Okay? Second Example Sentence: “I’ve been meaning to get in touch with an old friend of mine but…” So yeah, without further ado, let me get down to business and give you the second example of the sentence. And as a matter of fact I’ve been meaning to get in touch with an old friend of mine but we never get ’round to doing it because either I’m very busy or he hasn’t got much time for it. So we keep putting it off. And as a matter of fact we wanted to get in touch in early January and now it’s late February. Okay? So it’s been almost two months. So despite the fact that both of us have been meaning to get in touch with each other, we never get ’round to doing it, you know? So I hope you get the drift, you start developing that feeling for how these phrases are to be used and just to solidify that knowledge just give me – let me give you the third example which is going to be; let me see, let me brainstorm something. I’m quite good at these things, aren’t I? I can brainstorm things on the spot. Third Example: “I’ve been meaning to change my website design for a few years…” So I’ve been meaning to change my website design for a few years and considering that I’m very busy teaching my students, running the blog and all that, I really never got ’round to doing it. Okay? And then one fine day I realized, “hold on a second, my current design is not bad at all. Even though it’s old, it’s like 7 or 8 years old or 6 years old or thereabouts, there’s nothing wrong with it!” So I’d much rather focus on the content creation, writing good quality articles for you guys to enjoy and cranking out my daily videos – well, not daily really but you get the drift, right? – than spending thousands of dollars on completely redesigning the whole thing. Because good quality design costs an arm and a leg which is an English idiom meaning that it’s very, very expensive. So despite the fact that I had been meaning to change the website design and I never got ’round to it, finally I realized that there’s no need for it. Okay? So this was the third example. So I hope that now everything is clear to you my friends. So you basically use these phrases to express the simple fact that you wanted to do something for a while but then you never got a chance to do it, okay? And bear in mind, you don’t necessarily have to use these phrases in combination. You can use one or the other depending on the situation. It’s just that I kind of stuck them together and they supplement each other, you know? It’s a very fitting situation of using these two phrases together because they express the concept of you wanting to do something and not being able to do it. But you may as well use one or the other. For instance someone gets in touch with you and then you tell that person “I’m sorry that I never called you. I’ve been meaning to do it for a long time and I’m really sorry, I totally forgot about it. It slipped my mind.” Or you can just say things like “I’ve been meaning to do my homework or my essay or something for a couple of weeks now and now finally today is the last day. I can do it tomorrow after hand it in so there’s no excuse for me not do to do it tonight, you know.” So I hope you get the drift, right? Use these phrases in your spoken English self-practice sessions. Use them when speaking with others by all means guys. So if you have any questions obviously, please post them in the comment section below. And thanks for watching this video and chat to you soon. Bye-bye! Robby P.S. Would you like to find out why I’m highlighting some of the text in red? Read this article and you’ll learn why it’s so important to learn idiomatic expressions and how it will help you to improve your spoken English! P.S.S. Are you serious about your spoken English improvement? Check out my English Harmony System HERE!

6mins

7 Mar 2016

Rank #14

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English Fluency Q & A – 17 September 2016 – Ask Robby!

Here’s how to improve your English listening skills when listening to my video: put the headphones on, playback the video and write it all down while listening to it! Hi Guys! In today’s video I’m going to respond to a number of e-mails sent by my blog readers, and here’s exactly what I’m addressing in this video: How heeding to my advice about using SIMPLE VOCABULARY helped one of my blog readers to succeed at a job interview which resulted in securing a job 1:00 – 3:15 Is trying to build huge vocabulary and phraseology going to help overcome an English fluency issue whereby the person in question keeps constantly second-guessing themselves when speaking in English? 3:20 – 9:50 Studying English grammar for 20 years – and still can’t speak in English! 9:50 – 11:05 Struggling with English Tenses and modifying English sentences 11:15 – 13:05 Robby P.S. Are you serious about your spoken English improvement? Check out my English Harmony System HERE!

13mins

18 Sep 2016

Rank #15

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Surround Yourself With English ALL the Time!

Here’s how to improve your English listening skills when listening to my video: put the headphones on, playback the video and write it all down while listening to it! Hi guys, hello my dear fellow English speakers and welcome back to Robby’s English Harmony video blog! In today’s video we are going to look at the following topic: full English immersion and its importance in your spoken English fluency development. And sometimes you may think “what’s the big deal? Why would I have to necessarily surround myself with English 24/7? Surely, if I want to improve my English I can just do certain things and that will improve my spoken English, right?” Well, you’re right to a certain degree. Yes, you will definitely improve it because doing something is better than doing nothing, right? But here’s the deal: if you immerse yourself in English 24/7, it’s going to provide even additional benefits for your overall spoken English fluency development. 24/7 English Immersion Is ESSENTIAL! And I noticed that, a few years ago, when I went back to my home country, obviously when you land in the airport, you exit the aircraft, enter the airport and you immediately get surrounded with Latvian which is the language spoken in Latvia, right? And that’s the country I come from. That is my home country and I noticed that it’s a bit more difficult for me to focus on my inner thoughts. Obviously if you have been following my blog you know that I’m doing constant spoken English self-practice, I’m trying to think in English when in public and speak with myself in slight whisper when there’s no one around and I find it a bit more difficult to do it when in my country because I’m surrounded with all things Latvian. And like with a wave of a magic wand, when I land back in Ireland in Dublin and I exit the aircraft and I’m walking along the corridor in the airport and I read all the posters in English and everything, everything is sign posted in English obviously, like with a wave of a magic wand, my ability to think in English clearly and speak with myself in English returns back. And I think it’s all because your surroundings determine a lot when it comes to your own performance. And it’s not necessarily a language performance, it can be a lot of different things. Your Surroundings Determine an Awful Lot! For instance, I think one of the reasons why people fail to exercise at home is because the home setting doesn’t necessarily evoke the necessary emotions associated with working out. When you work out in a gym, it’s a whole lot different story. There’s other people working out, you see all these different machines, there’s up beat music going bam-bam-bam-bam. So all those surroundings make you want to work out yourself and makes the whole process more enjoyable and more sufficient. Whereas if you want to work out in your own room where you’re mostly used to watching TV, right,  that’s what you want to do in that room. You don’t even want to work out so you’re forcing yourself to work out in your room but it just doesn’t happen for some reason. So it’s all about the surroundings, right? I actually like drawing parallels between the fitness world and your language performance because I strongly believe that your ability to speak is just another practical skill. Just like your ability to perform physical exercises for example. Anyway, going back to full immersion and being surrounded with all things English, is definitely beneficial because just as I said, if you’re surrounded with all things English, it will facilitate your English performance. You are so much more likely to speak better, to understand better, to write better, read better, if you’re surrounded by English the whole time. And obviously, what I mean is not sticking posters on your wall in English or things like that. Well, to a certain degree, yeah, is true. If you’re sticking post-it notes on a whiteboard in front of you, obviously, do it in English. Do as much as you can in English. But I’m not saying you have to totally redo your whole environment and go great lengths but things that you do on a daily basis, I strongly and warmly suggest you to do in English. If you keep a diary, if you keep notes, a simple notebook, do all your notes in English. If you read fiction, choose English fiction. If you read news websites, go for news websites in English. If you watch some TV, why not watch English channels? And the list goes on and on. You get the drift, right? But obviously you don’t have to tear down posters that are on your wall in your native language and a calendar that might be hanging in there which is all in your native language and things like that, right? You don’t have to go extreme but all I’m saying is you have to make sure there’s a little bit of English everywhere and that will facilitate your own English performance and that’s why the full immersion is of the utmost importance if you want to maximize your potential as an English student, English learner, English speaker, right? Alright my friends. That’s about it for today! I really hope that you enjoyed watching this video and if you have any comments, please feel free to publish them in the comments section below. Thanks and talk to you soon! Bye-bye! Robby P.S. Would you like to find out why I’m highlighting some of the text in red? Read this article and you’ll learn why it’s so important to learn idiomatic expressions and how it will help you to improve your spoken English! P.S.S. Are you serious about your spoken English improvement? Check out my English Harmony System HERE!

6mins

19 Oct 2016

Rank #16

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Past Events in English: “There Was This Time When… Next Thing I Know…”

Here’s how to improve your English listening skills when listening to my video: put the headphones on, playback the video and write it all down while listening to it! Hi guys, hello boys and girls and hello my dear fellow foreign English speakers! It’s me, Robby from EnglishHarmony.com and welcome back to my video blog! Now, in today’s video I’m going to give you two new English idiomatic expressions which is somewhat unusual because normally I’d be giving just one. The reason being, if you learn a number of expressions all at once, especially if they describe a very similar concept, oftentimes you would get confused when we learn them all at once and then we try to speak all those expressions would mix together kind of. So that’s why I normally suggest only focusing on one particular expression at a given time. But in this particular case the topic that I want to touch upon today is discussing past events, all right? The reason being, a lot of my blog visitors have contacted me in the past asking me “Robby, can you tell me ways of simplifying my speech when I talk about past events because I oftentimes get confused about using the different tenses or whatever?” And on top of that, a lot of my Fluency Star coaching clients have also expressed the same wish that we incorporate some storytelling basically into our programs. And by saying storytelling don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about some old style storytelling whereby the storyteller gets in front of the crowd and entertains everyone by telling entertaining stories. It’s not about that. It’s just about talk about past events, right? So basically provided all this I have a pretty clear picture basically. A lot of you guys are struggling with talking about past events and that’s exactly the reason why I’m going to be touching upon that subject today. And the two phrases will come in very handy because the first one “there was this time when…” is a great way of initiating the story, right? And then the phrase “next thing I know…” is a very handy way of making the transition from the past tenses into the simple present. The reason being, you can use simple present when talking about past events. Surprise, surprise, a lot of you guys probably didn’t know that, right? And chances are that you didn’t because nobody really tells you that. You wouldn’t find that information in an English grammar book. Nobody would write in it that simple present can be used to talk about past events, right? But in reality it happens a lot. Native English speakers use this strategy a lot but nobody – I suppose nobody really thinks a great deal of it. You know what I mean, people just speak that way, okay? But if you want to learn exactly how to use these two phrases “there was this time when…” and “next thing I know…” and how to make the transition from past tenses back to simple present to simplify your speech and get your story going, please bear with me and you’ll find it all out, my friends in a couple of moments! Using Simple Present to Talk About Past Events: Story #1 Hi my friends and welcome back. So here’s the first story. Basically today you’re going to be getting 3 stories involving 3 different ways of using these expressions. So there was this time when I was – as a matter of fact I was very young. It must have been like 20 years ago or something. So there was this time when I was walking, it was quite late at night and I was walking to the shop, I remember now. Yeah, it was the local grocery shop. And there were two guys arguing and I didn’t think much of it and I was just walking past them and next thing I know I get a punch in the face, okay? And then I turn around – and did you notice how I made the transition from using the past tense, I was walking to the shop and then I was walking past the two guys arguing and then I started using the present tense. Next thing I know I get punched in the face, I turn around and the guy is confronting me in the traditional boxer stance ready for a fight. And thankfully his friend jumped in between us and dragged the guy away, apologized and he said that that guy was having a big argument with his wife or something and he’s not himself really, right? So he apologized to me and I just let the matter go and I continued on my way to the grocery shop. And did you notice how I went back to the past tense, right? I didn’t even notice that transition myself but that’s the way you do it, right? You start the story by saying “there was this time when…” and then you use simple past or progressive past depending on what kind of action you’re actually describing. I was walking to the store obviously it’s progressive, right? It’s “I was walking” not that “I just walked”, okay? But anyway, then I said “next thing I know…” and then I made a transition into the simple present. And that’s exactly the way you can do it guys. It will simplify your speech big time, right? That was the first example and the next example is going to be – oh yeah, there was this time, again, grocery store. For some reason I picked two stories that involve going to the shop. There has to be something about those grocery shops, right? Using Simple Present to Talk About Past Events: Story #2 Anyway, there was this time when I was walking to the grocery shop with my dog. And as I oftentimes did back in the day I just left him out. No. I walked – I remember now. My memory is not what it used to be, my friends, right? So forgive me for constantly changing my story but that’s the way it happened. I thought that I left the dog outside which I didn’t, I just stayed outside with the dog and my kids went into the shop. Basically it was me with my daughters and a friend of theirs as well if I’m not mistaken. And then next thing I know this guy comes over with his dog and pits his dog against mine and this crazy fight breaks out. And I was like what on earth is going on? I was totally taken aback and I didn’t even notice how I went back to the past and so obviously for me it’s no big deal. I can actually use past tenses, future tenses, whatever, you know what I mean because at this stage in my life I’m quite comfortable using all the different English tenses. But as a matter of fact having said that I have to admit that some tenses aren’t actually used, right? So don’t take these words literally and don’t try to learn all the tenses and incorporate them into your speech, right? You have to be selective basically. There’s some tenses that aren’t actually used even by native English speakers. But what I’m getting at is that at this stage in my life I’m quite fluent, I’m quite comfortable with using different means of expression and talking about past and present and future or whatever, it’s no big deal to me. But if you struggle with that after the phrase “next thing I know…” you can definitely keep using the present tense throughout the rest of the story basically, right? That was the second story and the third story… but before getting into the matter let me have a little bit of water please. My mouth is getting dry, right? Now, the last story is going to be about what my wife experienced. Using Simple Present to Talk About Past Events: Story #3 There was this time when she was driving to work and the roads were blocked for some reason. There was some sort of a military activity in the area or something. I’m not really sure. The simple fact of the matter is that there’s an army base nearby so they might have closed the road for some reason or another. So she had to drive around some back road to get to her work, right? And then she’s driving there and this guy drives towards her and next thing she knows this guy suddenly tries to make a U turn and cuts her off and if not for her good reaction there would have been an accident for sure, right? Just because she slammed on the breaks she avoided the collision and basically the guy just turned around and drove off but she got a great fright, okay? So that was the last example where I used the phrases “there was this time when…” and “next thing I know…” Or you can actually – if you talk about some other person you can say next thing she knows or next thing he knows. But basically that’s a great way of transitioning from the past tenses into the simple present and that’s when you can talk about past events using the present, simple present or present progressive, you know. But the fact of the matter is that that simplifies your speech big time. You can talk about the past event as if it’s happening right now. It’s as if you are actually taking yourself and putting yourself into the past and you’re actually bringing the past back into now, into the present and you’re basically experiencing all those things all over and over again. And that’s how you tell the story, okay? So if you have any questions guys please don’t hesitate to ask them in the comment section below. And yeah, thanks for watching my video and chat to you soon! Bye-bye! Robby P.S. Would you like to find out why I’m highlighting some of the text in red? Read this article and you’ll learn why it’s so important to learn idiomatic expressions and how it will help you to improve your spoken English! P.S.S. Are you serious about your spoken English improvement? Check out my English Harmony System HERE!

10mins

17 Jul 2016

Rank #17

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Happy New Year 2017 From English Harmony!

Happy New Year 2017 my friends foreign English speakers and all my followers! I’m wishing you a very happy, prosperous and successful New Year! Personally for me this last year has been very challenging and full of surprises, but I can proudly say that I accomplished what I set out to do and I secured a job in the IT sector as a foreign English speaker. Have you got similar dreams and ambitions? Do you feel like you’re kind of stuck and you would really like to change things? Do you plan to move to an English speaking country to study? Do you finally want to find a better job where you can realize your full potential and also use the English language? Or maybe you want to start your own YouTube channel about a specific topic and publish videos as a foreign English speaker? Everything is possible. EVERYTHING! Just set your goal for the year 2017, come up with a simple action plan and follow through with it. It really is THAT simple my friends! Have a very Happy and Prosperous New Year 2017! Your English fluency coach, Robby

7mins

31 Dec 2016

Rank #18

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Be Specific – Don’t Try to Make a General Statement When Explaining Something in English!

Fluent English can ONLY be acquired by learning IDIOMATIC EXPRESSIONS – and that’s why I’m going to highlight them for you in RED! Here’s how to improve your English listening skills when listening to my video: put the headphones on, playback the video and write it all down while listening to it! Transcript Below: Hello everybody and welcome back to Robby’s English Harmony video blog. It’s been a while guys since I recorded my last video for the simple reason that I’ve been really, really busy at work and I have to study on top of my daily duties at work as well so it’s really hectic lifestyle to say the least. And then when I’m coming home at night it’s quite late as well and then I have to do all the other stuff, prepare for the next day, pack my food, prepare my clothing, walk the dog, whatever, respond to my emails, right? You guys are asking a lot of questions on a daily basis! So unfortunately my video recording days when I used to record at least one video a day or every few days are over. But it doesn’t mean that I’m stopping it altogether. Not at all. It’s quite the opposite actually, right? I’m actually enjoying this process immensely and for too many reasons. First of all, I love helping you guys. I love talking to my audience and obviously you love it, too. And secondly, it helps me improve my own spoken English, right? That’s the way it goes. Anyhow, I’m having my morning coffee. Morning to you all! Cheers! Huge Problem For Foreigners – Being General When Describing Something! This time around it’s real coffee just to get my day kick-started, right? And today I wanted to talk about one problem that a lot of foreign English speakers have in common. Basically, when we are asked something or probably not just asked but when we want to explain something in English to the other person the first thing that we’re trying to do is we’re trying to explain it all in an abstract way. So let’s say for argument’s sake you are asked about animal rights or something, right? Why I picked that topic about an animal? Because I have a cat lying right there next to me on the bed. So let’s say for argument’s sake you are asked what’s your stance on the whole animal rights issue or whatever. And obviously that’s a very, very broad subject, right? So you might actually have like 20 different opinions on the certain aspects of the whole thing, right? But if you’re trying to grasp the whole thing at once and provide a prolific all-encompassing answer to that person it becomes mission impossible for the simple reason that it’s pretty much impossible even in your native language to manipulate with all those abstract concepts that might be popping up in your mind when it comes to the whole animal issue. So what you need to do in order to handle such conversations is instead of being general, instead of trying to generalize stuff and provide an answer from a bigger perspective you’ve got to be very, very specific! Be Very Specific Instead of Being General! So specific is the key. Just pick one example, right? And it might sound like a bad idea on certain occasions. You may think “Hold on a second, Robby but if I’m asked a general question what good is it if I’m trying to tell that person a specific situation that I had or heard about or read about or whatever.” Well, here’s the deal. That is actually the best way to illustrate a point and to get the message across, right? All too often people go on and on about some general things failing to focus on the specifics, right? So it’s not actually such a bad thing at all, quite the opposite. It’s the best way to communicate. So if I were asked something, I would probably try and remember what my daughter told me because she’s big into the whole animal thing. She wants to be a vet, the other one wants to be an architect but one of my daughters wants to be a vet and she’s been helping in places like animal shelters, veterinary clinics and so on. So I would have probably picked a specific situation that my daughter had that she told me about and that’s how the conversation would start developing. I would tell that particular instance and then my conversation partner would probably respond with something and that’s how the whole thing develops, right? And that’s a normal conversation. Whereas if I were to try and use some sophisticated terms describing the fact that the animals have rights and then being abused and it’s important to set up and maintain and sponsor all these animal foundations and animal right organizations and what not and ensure that it happens at a government level, you know. You’re getting into very tricky area so to speak. And because you cannot talk about it confidently, you might in fact have a very vague understanding of the whole thing and you’re basically shooting yourself in the foot by trying to – it kind of ties in with the whole concept of not trying to speak using some sophisticated language, trying to sound too smart. Get down to earth, you know. Use simple language. Don’t Be Afraid of Using Simple Language and Short Sentences! And in this connection I want you to check out this article and there’s a video as well. Click on it, right? Click on the link, it will take you to the respective page on my blog “Speaking in Short Sentences? It’s Normal!” So it kind of ties in with the whole thing, right? There’s no need to try and speak in long sophisticated sentences because more often than not you will end up not being able to say anything. Whereas if you stick with using simple words, simple sentences it’s going to be much better for your fluency. And the second one I want you to check out is planning your answer – click here:  “How to Answer Unexpected Questions?” And being specific is one of those points I’m making there in that article, right? So just a couple of refresher links. In case you haven’t read them at all it’s going to be all good for you. My friends, it is going to serve as an eye-opener for you, I promise, right? Because this is a big deal. So many people and a lot of my former Fluency Star students had this issue as well. I would have a conversation and then that person is trying to say it all at once, kind of be very general and then use those abstract concepts. It’s very difficult. It’s a very, very gray area to wander in. So you’d be much better off just sticking with specific situations. If you have to think about it take your time 5-10 seconds. Use some hesitation phrases such as “Well, let me see… I have to think about it…. Hold on a second…” or something like that, right? Or even the typical sentence starters “Well, to be honest with you… If I think about it I can actually remember this particular situation.” Or something along those lines and that’s when you start talking about that specific situation, you know. So The Bottom Line Is – Instead of Being General, Be Specific! Even if sometimes it might sound like a bad idea, trust me, being specific is going to help you, it’s going to make your speech way more fluent, it’s going to organize your thought process and it’s going to serve as an ice breaker in different social situations. And that’s how the whole conversation develops. You know, you mention something specific and it leads to the next thing, to the next one, then the conversation partner responds with something. And if you think about it, more often than not, casual conversations are about specific things. Obviously we would be sometimes mentioning some abstract or generic concepts or whatever but more often than not, just like I said people talk about specific stuff. So that is the key to your fluency my friends. So thanks for watching this video. If you have any further questions obviously please feel free to post them in the comment section below. Thank you. Bye-bye! Robby P.S. Would you like to find out why I’m highlighting some of the text in red? Read this article and you’ll learn why it’s so important to learn idiomatic expressions and how it will help you to improve your spoken English! P.S.S. Are you serious about your spoken English improvement? Check out my English Harmony System HERE!

9mins

6 Nov 2016

Rank #19

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English Idiomatic Expression: “As A Matter Of Fact”

Hi guys. Hello boys and girls and hello my dear fellow foreign English speaker and also any native English speaker that might happen to be watching this video on my blog at EnglishHarmony.com or on my YouTube channel! Now, in today’s video we’re going to look at the following English idiomatic expression “as a matter of fact,” right? And the fact of the matter is that I thought that I had made a video about this particular idiomatic expression. And if you were listening attentively, you definitely realized that I used a very similar expression there a few seconds ago. I said the fact of the matter is, right? And it’s funny because these two phrases “as a matter of fact” and “the fact of the matter is” they almost sound the same, but not quite. They’re not the same because “as a matter of fact” is used in different situations. But let’s not get confused guys because if you’re trying to learn these two expressions at the same time, you will end up having created a very wrong vocabulary association in your brain. Because those two phrases will kind of go together so whenever you want to use one or the other, the other phrase will just come barging in and then your speech will get very hesitant and interrupted and you will say the wrong thing at the wrong time. So that’s how typically you would be experiencing these fluency issues when you’re trying to say something and then some other thing just pops up in your brain and comes out of your mouth without actually you wanting to say that particular thing. So this would be a typical example. If I were to give you both of those phrases “as a matter of fact” and “the fact of the matter is”, then we would end up with even bigger fluency issues. So we will look at the other phrase, “the fact of the matter is” some other time but today we will be a 100% focused on the first one, “as a matter of fact”. Yeah. And just like I said I thought that I had made a video about it and it turns out that it’s not the case, right? And I was a bit surprised, I was taken aback because I thought that definitely I would have made a video about this one because it’s a very simple idiomatic expression. It’s one of the basic ones, as a matter of fact, right? It’s something that you would probably learn on the second page of an English phrase book or something. But anyway, if you are interested in how exactly this phrase is to be used, when to use it, how to use it, please bear with me for a few more minutes and I will explain everything to you in every detail my friends! First Sample Sentence So welcome back! And as a matter of fact, today I didn’t even want to make any videos, you know. But then I knew better than that because I knew for a fact that if I didn’t make any videos today, then I would be probably not doing it tomorrow and then it would go on and on and on. And then if I don’t do it for a few days in a row, my fluency just goes down. So this what I’m doing for you guys, for the YouTube channel and for my blog is actually very beneficial for my own fluency. That’s how I maintain a very high level of English fluency, right? So if you noticed the way I used the expression “as a matter of fact”, it’s actually used pretty much the same way you’d use the word “actually.” So I said as a matter of fact, I didn’t even want to make any videos and then I could have just as well said, actually I didn’t even want to make a video today, right? Actually, as a matter of fact – it’s pretty much the same thing. The only difference is that when you use the phrase “as a matter of fact,” I would imagine that you’ll probably sound a bit more native-like, if you know what I mean. Whereas if you say actually the whole time, it would probably send the message to the other person that that’s the only expression that you know. But anyway, it’s not to say that you can’t use the word “actually”, it’s just that it’s probably a bit overused sometimes, especially among foreign English speakers. So you may definitely want to start using the phrase “as a matter of fact” whenever you want to say actually or use them interchangeably, depending on the situation. Second Sample Sentence So let’s come up with some other example. Let’s imagine that the two partners who live together in a household, whether it’s the wife or the husband assumes that their partner hasn’t done something. Say, the wife thinks that her husband hasn’t put the bins out. And she tells him “Charlie, you haven’t put the bins out because you always forget it.” And then the husband can talk to his wife and tell her “As a matter of fact I have done it.” It’s like as if to say in your face “I have done it as a matter of fact.” So it’s used in a little bit sarcastic way if you know what I mean. So that’s how you can use this phrase when someone accuses you of something, someone assumes that you have or haven’t done something, you can tell them “No. As a matter of fact I have done it this time ’round.” But just like I said you could have used the word “actually” just as well. So “Actually I have done it.” But “as a matter of fact” is the phrase we’re focusing on today. So that’s the one you want to use. Third Sample Sentence And speaking of the third example, all I can say is that as a matter of fact when I did the last video I couldn’t come up with a third example sentence. And normally I come up with 3 sample sentences for each and every single one of these idiomatic expressions, right? So as a matter of fact, I was struggling with it the last time when I did it and this time around I’m getting away with using the fact that I forgot to do it as a sample sentence. And I just started it with the phrase “as a matter of fact”. I could have said “Actually I forgot”– not forgot but I couldn’t come up with the third sample sentence in my last video and I substituted that word with “as a matter of fact” and I created a third and successful sample sentence for this video. So I got away with it guys! Okay, so I hope that this clarifies everything about the phrase “as a matter of fact”. And what you want to do now is do some spoken English self-practice whereby you put yourself in a situation and then you come up with some sample sentences. You imagine that you’re speaking with someone or you just say something starting with the phrase “as a matter of fact” and make sure that you wire this particular speech pattern into your brain, as a matter of fact, as a matter of fact, as a matter of fact – so that it becomes your second nature and you can use it freely whenever the right situation presents itself, okay? So thanks for watching guys and I’ll chat to you soon again! Bye-bye! Robby P.S. Would you like to find out why I’m highlighting some of the text in red? Read this article and you’ll learn why it’s so important to learn idiomatic expressions and how it will help you to improve your spoken English! P.S.S. Are you serious about your spoken English improvement? Check out my English Harmony System HERE!

6mins

21 Mar 2016

Rank #20