E2 – Reading

Episode 2 . 18:17

Episode 2 - Reading - transcript:

What is up, my friends? Welcome to the Speak Easy English Podcast: the number one podcast on the Internet (according to my mother). Thank you for joining me 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. All of the episodes are free. And guess what? All of the transcripts are also free on our website, speakeasyenglish.club. That is speakeasyenglish.club. No need to pay, no need to log in. It’s all posted for free on the website. My name is Brandon. I’ll be your host. Go ahead, make yourself comfortable. Grab a coffee, grab a beer or whatever you want to drink, and let’s get this show on the road!

So right now we are continuing with our mini-series on natural language learning. What is natural language learning? Well, it is: learning languages by listening, reading, and using them as a tool to communicate – instead of trying to learn a language by memorizing words and memorizing textbooks and rules. Natural language learning is much more effective and much more efficient than the old way of learning languages, like we did back in school. 

FYI, once we finish this miniseries, each episode we will be talking about a new and interesting topic! From current events, to idiomatic expressions, to funny stories, scientific discoveries, breaking news, whatever. But for right now, we are learning how to use this podcast to learn English naturally, easily and automatically.

Last episode we talked about the power of listening. Remember, spoken language existed 100,000 years before reading and writing! So, speaking and listening are the foundation. Those come first. And listening is extremely powerful because every word, and every phrase, every conjugation is in context. Those words are all meaningful and connected with one another, which helps your brain absorb and start learning the patterns of that language and how to use that language as a tool. Listening is also extremely effective precisely because it is easy to install as a habit. Podcasts in particular make it very easy for you to listen to English every day. You simply need to make it a habit to listen to English at the same time as you do some other activity every day – and you will become fluent. Literally. That is 99% of what you need to do to become fluent. You listen every day and you repeat those episodes multiple times. Repeat, repeat, repeat. But remember, repetition should be spaced. (Do not listen to the episodes back-to-back to back. You need to listen and then wait and then repeat and listen again. That’s called spaced repetition.) 

So now you’ve got a daily habit of listening installed in your life. You are listening to English every single day – and it is exciting! It feels good to listen (and to understand) a new language, a foreign language. You will start to get addicted to listening to English and to all of the progress that you are making. You will start to see progress and you will want to make even more progress and faster progress. Well, when that happens, this leads us to the second pillar of natural language learning, which is reading. Now, I will repeat here. You do not need to do anything other than listening to English every day to become fluent. But if you get addicted to learning this language and you want to see more and more progress, faster and faster, then reading is the next step to help you accelerate your English learning. 

Why is reading important? Well, let me ask you. Which memory is stronger? Let’s say you look at a picture of a nice dinner, a nice plate of delicious food, okay? And you have a memory of looking at that picture. Now, compare that memory to actually being in the restaurant. Let’s say you are sitting in the restaurant at the table, and you hear all of the sounds, and you smell all of the delicious food, and the waiter, you see him walking out of the kitchen and toward the table, and he sets in front of you the delicious plate of food. And you can see the steam rising, and you can smell and taste that meal. 

Well, which memory is stronger? Looking at a picture of that meal, of that food? Or actually being in the restaurant and seeing, smelling, tasting that food?

Well, of course, the memory of being in the restaurant is much stronger. Why? Well, because that memory is connected to way more neurons in your brain. It is connected to the smells, to the sounds, to the sights (what it looks like being in the restaurant). It allows your brain to experience that plate of food in several different ways. And when you can experience a memory in multiple ways, it makes a much stronger memory. Now, language (like English) can only be directly experienced with two senses. You can’t smell it. You can’t taste it. Most of us cannot touch it. But at least we can hear it and we can see it, right? So we can listen to it – and we can read it. Those are the only two ways for us to directly experience the language. So just like that delicious meal, that delicious plate of food, the more senses that we can use to experience English, the better our brain will be able to store those memories. 

So, reading the transcript of this episode is reliving the same experience, but from a totally different perspective! So when you listen, your brain is experiencing this episode by listening – and then later, if you read this transcript, your brain is getting to look at the same material, but from a completely different angle (using a different sense and a different way of processing information). So look, we only have two ways to directly experience a language. It is very important and powerful to use both. Yes, listening is enough. Listening will get you fluent. But if you also read the transcripts of what you listened to, that is going to be an extremely powerful tool to help boost, to help accelerate your learning. 

You can, and you will, become fluent automatically. It is easy. But in order to do that, you need to listen and read and use English a lot. You need to listen every day, and you need to input as much English as you can into your brain. So by reading, that gives you an additional input that you can add (on top of listening) to help make progress even faster – by exposing your brain to even more ways to engage with the language, to experience the language. 

Now, it does not always feel like progress. You will not feel better at speaking English every day. Some days you will feel great, and other days you might feel totally lost and confused. And that’s okay. That is the natural process of your brain figuring out how to use English.

Listening and reading are awesome ways to experience the language. But your brain has other creative ways to experience the language, too. No, you cannot smell it or feel it, but you can imagine those senses when reading or listening to a story. In fact, when you read or listen to a story, if you imagine it in your head, it is almost the same as if you actually lived that story! And by imagining it in your head, your brain will create even more neural connections to that material, [to] what you are reading, or what you are listening to. 

So here are a few tips, a few recommendations on how to use the transcripts and how to use reading. 

  • Again, I’ll repeat: if you are reading or listening to a story, try to imagine that story. Try to visualize that story in your head. This might seem silly or crazy, but it actually helps. It helps your brain to permanently store that material in your neurons. 
  • My second piece of advice: do not read along while you are listening. Do not read the transcript while you are listening to the episode. Your brain will trick you! Your brain will make you think you understand more than you actually do. No, you need to listen, and then separately (later on) read the transcript. But never read the transcript while you are listening. 
  • Third, we have talked about spaced repetition. So don’t listen to the podcast back-to-back. Don’t listen once and immediately listen again! No! And the same rule goes for reading. Don’t listen to the podcast and then immediately read it. No. Leave some space. Listen, for example, in the morning – and then read the transcript in the evening, or the afternoon, or the next day. Make sure that you have some space in between these repetitions. Spaced repetition is the key. 
  • Fourth, I strongly recommend having a pen or a pencil or highlighter while you are reading any words or phrases that you don’t understand. Underline them or highlight them. This will help draw your brain’s attention to those things you don’t understand. Otherwise, you have to be careful, because your brain might just ignore the parts that you don’t understand. You don’t want to ignore them! You want to focus on the things that you do not understand. So highlight them or underline them and look them up. Then the next time you read, or when you go back and listen to that episode, your brain will remember that that was one of the items you did not understand. But now you do! It helps draw extra attention to those items, those new words or phrases.

Alright, so we have talked a lot about reading today. Let me summarize. Listening is the most important. But if you want to make progress even faster, you can also read the transcripts of these episodes that will give your brain another way to experience the same content. Allowing your brain to experience the content in multiple ways by listening and by reading, is very powerful to help your brain store and remember all of this material even more efficiently. Remember, the more you listen and the more you read, the more English, the more input that you can give your brain, the faster you will become fluent. This is an automatic process. This is easy and automatic, but it does require a lot of exposure to English. It requires a lot of active listening and a lot of reading and a lot of thinking in English and using English. And, over time, you will automatically become fluent. Reading gives you just another awesome way to expose your brain to English. 

Okay. In the next episode, we will talk more about using the language: that is, speaking and thinking and writing in English – using that language as a tool to communicate.

Thank you for listening to this entire episode. 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 of the transcripts, along with my email address are posted on our website, speakeasyenglish.club. That is speakeasyenglish.club. As always, don’t forget to listen to this episode multiple times. Not just once, but multiple times. Spaced repetition will help you make awesome progress toward your goal of becoming completely fluent in English. All right, we will see you next time. Cheers.