E6 – Your Language Journey

Episode 6 . 28:09

E6 - Your Language Journey - transcript:

What’s up, my friends? Welcome to the Speak Easy English podcast – the number one podcast on the Internet… if you only ask my mother! 

Thank you for joining us on another episode. This podcast is designed to help you become completely fluent in English, naturally, automatically, and without studying any boring grammar. As always, we’re going to talk about interesting topics, 100% in English, spoken by a native English speaker (that’s me). And all the episodes are free – and the transcripts along with them! It’s all on our website, speakeasyenglish.club. That’s speakeasynglish.club. There’s no need to pay, no need to log in, and it’s all posted right there for free on the website. My name is Brandon. I will be your host. So make yourself comfortable. Grab a coffee or a beer or whatever you want to sip on, and let’s get this show on the road! 

Okay, before we dive into today’s episode, I’ll talk about a couple things. First, don’t worry if you’re sick of listening to podcasts about natural language learning. After this introductory series on natural language learning, each episode will be about a different interesting topic, and we will have an entertaining conversation about those topics. We will talk about current events. We’ll talk about science. We will talk about cool, idiomatic expressions, or sometimes just tell stories – stories that are fictional, or stories from our own lives. But this podcast is starting with a series on natural language learning because I believe it is super important for you to learn how to use these podcasts (and free transcripts) to improve your English as quickly and naturally as possible. If you have this resource, but do not know how to use it, then you are not going to be able to take advantage of it. That means: to use it to its full potential and to your full potential. 

In the last handful of episodes, we talked about spaced repetition. So don’t forget – and listen to each episode multiple times. Spaced repetition is the key. We also talked about how the traditional method, the old method of learning languages, is not very effective and is not efficient. You can memorize all the grammar, and vocabulary, and lists of flashcards… and you will end up knowing all of the rules and how to spell the words… but not being able to hold a conversation with a native! Natural language learning is the opposite of that, and it will result in you being able to speak and understand. And over time, all of the small grammatical errors, all of the small grammar errors, will correct themselves along the way. 

Once you have enough input, that means enough hours listening and reading and using the language, you will magically know when something sounds correct or when it sounds off (when it sounds incorrect). It’s natural and automatic. Think about how kids learn language. They speak and understand, albeit with some mistakes, but they do that way before they know any grammar rules, or learn to read or write. They are already fluent by the time they start school or even think about reading or writing. 

We also talked about fluency. What does it mean to be fluent? And it does not mean that you are perfect. It does not mean that you are making no mistakes. It means: being able to communicate and understand with ease. If you can easily create a sentence to say what you want to say, and you can easily understand a native speaker, speaking to you in plain English, then you are fluent! For example, would you say that a four-year-old isn’t fluent in their native language? Of course not! Of course they are fluent! Even though they have a very small vocabulary and they make lots of grammar mistakes. But they are still fluent, because they easily understand you. And they are easily able to create their own sentences to express what they want to communicate. 

In this episode, I’m going to give you some specific examples (some specific suggestions) for how to use this podcast in your daily life as a tool to learn English naturally and automatically. The suggestions I’m going to give you are essentially repeating many of the the same exact things I did to become fluent in Spanish and to make a ton of progress in French. So I know for a fact that these strategies work! Of course, many of these same ideas and strategies have been repeated by many people before me. So I do not claim to be the author or inventor of any particular strategy for language learning. I am simply repeating what I did and sharing with you how it helped me to achieve what you are trying to achieve. I will also note: I am sure there are people who disagree with me and have different ideas about learning a language. And that’s okay. I am basing my suggestions and my opinions on my experience in my life learning languages. While I am not a scientist or researcher, I have studied my own experiences in depth and I believe that I have valuable advice to share. I really hope that you’ll take these ideas and suggestions and find them helpful as a starting point. 

If your life and your situation does not allow you to use all of these tactics, no problem! I’m sure you can find ways to modify and adapt them and still be very successful on your journey to become fluent. 

One more note – to repeat – listening does not mean simply having the podcast play in the background while you “zone out” or think about other things. No! Listening means active listening. That means paying attention! If you find yourself too tired or too distracted, then turn it off. It does not help you at all to “listen” to a podcast but not pay attention. In fact, you might even deceive yourself [by] doing that. Your brain will start to learn to ignore that language (those words and sentences that you do not easily understand). If you turn on that podcast – but then ignore it – you are training your brain to ignore those sounds as if they are background noise. And of course, I think it goes without saying, that will probably slow you down. 

Okay, well, if you can understand this, you probably already have a good level of English. You’re definitely beyond the beginner stage. So I will not spend much time talking about the very beginner stage, but I do not want to ignore it completely because, I know in my life, many of my friends ask me how they should start learning a language. In fact, it’s very common that my friends or family will tell me they’ve decided to learn a language, and they ask how they should go about starting. And in these situations, they are beginners. They don’t have any base. They don’t have very much “base knowledge” to start with. So my advice to them is very much the same, but a little bit different, than what I would say to an intermediate language student. 

Since this episode is all about giving suggestions on how to use podcasts to become fluent, I think we will spend a couple quick minutes to talk about how those students at the very beginning can also use podcasts to become intermediate – and then, of course, from intermediate to become advanced. So, for someone that knows zero or very little English – that’s exactly like I started with French. You need to start with a very basic podcast. But the point here is that they can start, right from the beginning, listening to podcasts every day as their learning strategy. So just find a podcast designed for very beginner level, the very first words that someone learns. Find a podcast designed for that, and use that. Create a habit of listening to that podcast until you get to the next level. And once you become a beginner and upper-beginner and early-intermediate, then you can change the podcast that you listen to. Really, it’s the same strategy as intermediate learners use to go from intermediate to advanced. Just find something at your level. So find a podcast at or slightly beyond your level and make a daily habit of listening to it. No matter what level you are at, you should always be looking for content that you find interesting, but that is also at your level or slightly beyond your level, right? So if it is too easy, if you easily understand everything I say, then this is too easy! Then you need to move on to something more advanced, maybe one of the later episodes, or maybe a podcast designed for native English speakers, that might really challenge you. 

So that’s one of the rules of thumb: to listen to something at your level or slightly more advanced than your level. Another rule of thumb is that you should listen to podcasts that are 100% in the language you want to learn. So in English, in this case. You should listen to podcasts that are completely in English as soon as you can. So as soon as your level of English allows you to listen to podcasts that are completely in English, you need to do that. That will help you make the most of your time listening to podcasts. I mean, do you want to listen to a podcast where 80% (where 800 out of 1000 words) are in your own language? No! That’s not going to help you. You want to listen to as many English words as possible. So you should always switch to podcasts that are completely in your target language as soon as you possibly can. 

My last rule of thumb is that if you have 30 minutes to study English, it will help you more to do three 10-minute sessions, than one 30-minute session. So, break those minutes into separate listening sessions and that will help you more than putting all of the minutes together and studying for one 30-minute session each day. 

Okay, so now you’re intermediate and at this level you’ll still be using a podcast like this one designed for people learning English. And that’s because I speak slower and more clearly than podcasts designed for native English speakers. That makes these episodes a little bit easier for you to understand. So, congratulations on getting this far! Now you can start putting your learning on autopilot and start seeing really rapid improvement in your English. What do I mean by autopilot? The habit of daily listening has already been installed now, so you are automatically listening to the language each day. You never have to wake up and figure out when you’ll work on your English, or what you are going to listen to. And you don’t procrastinate because it’s automatic! It’s a habit that you already do, automatically, at the same time each day. So, for you, it’s easy – and that is autopilot. So again, congratulations! You have so many reasons to be proud of yourself – and that is awesome! 

So here’s what I would do if I were you. And I’m talking to you the same way that I talk to myself about learning French and holding myself accountable for doing what needs to be done to make progress in the language. 

I would find time to listen to the language in the morning and also in the afternoon or evening. And those sessions, those blocks, can be as short as ten minutes. But you need to listen in the morning, and again in the evening. That’s going to give you more opportunities for repetition. 

Some specific suggestions for the morning are:

  • When you eat breakfast. If you sit down and drink coffee or espresso and have breakfast, then you have ten minutes right there where you can put headphones in and listen to a podcast for ten minutes. 
  • Another option in the morning is if you commute to work. If you drive or take the metro to work, you could listen to the podcast while you are commuting to work. 
  • Lastly, if these two options don’t work for you, then you could just get up ten minutes earlier! Just ten minutes, and listen to the podcast during those ten minutes. That is not difficult. You can do that! 

Okay. So then in the afternoon you could listen to the podcast:

  • While you eat lunch or dinner. 
  • Or you could listen to the podcast on your way home from work (if you are driving or in the metro).
  • Or if you exercise, you could listen to the podcast while you were exercising 
  • Or while you were doing housework (if you do the dishes, or laundry, or just straighten up the house, you could listen to a podcast). 
  • And lastly, if you have outdoor work (like cutting the lawn or feeding the animals or farm chores) you could listen to a podcast while you do that work. 

Now, when it comes to repeating those episodes, I think it is important when you first hear an episode to repeat that new episode multiple times within the first two days. So, when you listen to an episode for the first time, I would listen to it twice that day. So in the morning and then in the afternoon – and I would probably listen to it again once or twice the following day (the next day). So, for example, you could listen to episode one on your way to work – and again on your way home. 

I listen to each episode of the podcast that I use many, many times – dozens of times. Spaced repetition is the key to give your brain the opportunity to absorb all of that content and all of that knowledge, automatically. So I would recommend repeating these episodes many, many times and only slowly introducing new episodes into the mix. 

If you are listening to four or five new episodes every week, you are probably moving too fast. You need to make sure you are allowing time to repeat each episode multiple times. So, today I might listen to episode ten and eleven, and tomorrow I might repeat episodes eight and nine, and then the next day I might come back to episode ten and eleven, and maybe episode five, and then the next day maybe episode six and seven. And I just keep doing that. I keep going back and listening over and over again to those episodes that I listen to over the last two or three weeks. Right? That’s spaced repetition and that is how you use these podcasts to become fluent. 

The next thing I would do is that I would read the transcript of your newest episode in the morning every day. So you don’t have to read the entire transcript, but if you’re eating breakfast, you could read ten minutes worth. You could read one or two pages of the transcript while you’re eating breakfast. And then you go and get on the metro (or you drive to work) and you listen to a different episode. Don’t listen to the episode that you just read, and don’t read an episode transcript right after you listen to it. It needs to be spaced. So, if you read a transcript while you are eating breakfast, then listen to a different episode while you drive to work (or while you ride the metro)! And as you definitely know by now, do not ever read the transcript at the same time as you listen. 

I believe that having the right strategy is very important – and natural language learning is an excellent strategy (in my opinion the best strategy) that you can have to learn a new language. But the strategy is not the only important thing. The other part is your commitment and your consistency. You have to work on English every day. You have to listen to English every single day. Especially in the beginning! When you learn a language this way, it is incredibly durable and you will have that language with you for life. But this method requires that you put in effort every single day. And of course that’s why the habit is so important: because it makes it easy to do it every day. But consistency is the key and it has to be every day. 

The good news is when you learn a language using this method, if your circumstances change in the future and you have to take some days, or weeks, or even months without using that language, it will still be there for you when you come back to it. But while you are learning, especially at this stage, you need to make sure you are listening to English every single day. 

Eventually, when the podcasts designed for students learning English become too easy, you will need to seek out and find podcasts for English speakers (podcasts written by and for native English speakers) and you will use those to continue listening and progressing toward becoming completely fluent. But the method will not change. You listen every single day – and you read those transcripts – and you use the language – and you use what you have absorbed from those podcasts. 

So to recap, if I were you, I would be listening in the morning at some point. I would be reading a transcript first thing, while I eat breakfast. I would be listening again in the afternoon or evening. And, if you can do both, even better! If you can listen in the morning, afternoon, and evening – even if those are just ten minutes each! So, ten minutes in the morning, ten minutes in the afternoon, and ten minutes in the evening. So just 30 minutes total – if you can do that, wow, that’s awesome! And if you can also read a transcript while you are eating breakfast for five minutes or ten minutes, that will be even more powerful!  

That would be my advice until you become super addicted, and then you can also add in language conversation classes. So find a language partner and talk for 20 or 30 minutes, or an hour, once or twice or more times, per week. Using this method is so natural and will help you make progress so fast that I hope you become addicted to the progress you are making. I hope you want to listen to more and more English and keep making more and more progress. This podcast is here for you to use, and when you outgrow it (when you become so advanced that this is no longer challenging) I hope you find new and interesting audios that will keep challenging you and enabling you to grow. 

Thanks for listening to this entire episode. I hope you are motivated and inspired to make English more of your everyday routine. If you appreciate having this free resource along with the free transcripts, don’t forget to leave a five star review! That will help us so much to gain visibility and reach even more people just like you that are working to become fluent in English! Feel free to email me with questions or concerns. All the free transcripts along with my email address are posted on the website: speakeasyenglish.club. That is speakeasyenglish.club. As always, don’t forget to listen to this episode multiple times. Not just once, but many times! Space repetition is the key that will help you make awesome progress toward your goal of becoming completely fluent in English. Alright guys, I will see you next time. Until then, cheers!