E3 – Using The Language

Episode 3 . 19:16

E3 – Using the Language – 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 so much 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. That’s right, zero 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 all of the transcripts are free on our website, speakeasyenglish.club. No need to pay. No need to log in. It’s all there, posted for free. My name is Brandon. I’ll be your host. Make yourself comfortable. Grab a coffee or a beer or a cocktail or whatever you want to sip, and let’s get this show on the road!

In the last two episodes, we started talking about natural language learning. That means learning languages by listening, by reading, and by using the language as a tool for communication. (Instead of the old way back in school when we would have to memorize individual words on flashcards, and memorize grammar rules and, really, we never practiced listening or speaking naturally. Natural language learning is the opposite of that. It means listening actively every day – creating that daily habit of listening – and also reading and using the language as a tool to communicate. As you know by now, listening is the key. The daily habit of listening is the number one thing you need to do to become fluent in English. That’s why podcasts are awesome. They are so easy to install as a habit in your daily life! When you ride the metro, listen to English. When you clean the house, listen to English. When you are in the car, listen to English! There are a million ways for you to create a daily habit of listening to English podcasts like this one. Also don’t forget that spaced repetition is the key. That means don’t listen to each episode one time. Listen repeatedly. Listen today, listen tonight, listen again tomorrow. Listen dozens of times over the next few weeks or months. Repetition is the key that will allow your brain to store all of these new words and patterns and structures for the long term. And it will allow your brain to automate understanding English. So you can simply understand English in English instead of trying to translate it back into your mother tongue. Listening is the key, but reading is also a great way to supplement that, to add more content to your brain, to get more English experience from a different angle. So when you listen, you experience this content by listening – and then when you read this transcript, you are experiencing that same content from a totally different angle. Experiencing that same content from multiple angles is very powerful and helps your brain to absorb, to internalize, that content even better. Yes, reading takes more time, but it does allow that content to anchor in your brain faster. If you are addicted to the progress you are seeing with your English and you want to go even faster, if you want your fluency to explode, then do both! Listen and read. 

Alright, today is the third episode and we are going to talk about a third way to experience the language. Reading and listening, those are using two of our senses to observe the language. We listen to the words – and we read the words. But actually using the language is how to move from just observing (listening and reading) to actually making it your own. This is a very powerful way to experience the language. It forces you to take ownership of your learning. When you are active listening and reading, in a way it is still passive. The words are being given to you. I am saying the words, or you are reading the words that are already written down. The words are being given to you. Whereas when you use the language to create a sentence, to create communication, you have to own that! You have to create. No one is giving you those words. You have to use your brain to communicate an idea. And just like reading gives you a new perspective on that same material that you were listening to, talking and writing about that material gives you another way to experience that same material. If you think (in English) about this episode, for example, or you talk to your friend (in English) about this episode, or you write in a journal about this episode, that gives your brain another way to experience the same material. The same material that you listened to, that you read, and now you are thinking about it in English, talking about it in English, writing about it in English. 

So when should you start trying to use the language? Well, as soon as you can! I would say establishing a habit of listening is the only thing that you absolutely must do first. After that, start trying to use the language. Start imitating the sounds. Start repeating phrases. Start copying my pronunciation. And once you are able, start making your own sentences, your own phrases! Try to communicate your ideas using the English that you have absorbed from this podcast.

Remember, using the language does not just mean speaking English. It can mean thinking in English, or writing, or quizzing yourself. That means testing yourself to see if you know how to say a certain phrase or a certain sentence that you want to communicate. In fact, using the language, think of it like testing yourself. Research says that you should spend at least two thirds of your “study time” not studying at all, but actually testing yourself! (Checking to see if you can recall the knowledge.) So when you sit and “study”, only a small portion of your “study time” should be studying. The rest, the majority, should be trying to use the information that you studied, right? 

In this case, that means you should be engaging and using the language, thinking in that language, interacting with that language, because that is you testing yourself to check and see if you can say what you want to say – and if you can understand what the other person is saying. 

Using the language: so actually speaking, writing, or thinking in the language is the best way to test yourself. This will help you learn so much faster. It forces you to recall, to remember, the words and phrases on your own – without me saying them or without you reading them. It forces you to dig, to search in your memory, and remember these words and phrases on your own. This will also show you exactly what you don’t understand and where you need to work more. You might think you fully understand how to use a certain word or a certain phrase, until the moment that you try to create your own sentence using that word. And at that point you might realize, oh wait, I don’t actually understand how to use this in a sentence. Then, once you know what you don’t know, you can pay more attention the next time you listen and the next time you read, to try and understand exactly how to use those words or phrases. 

Now, remember how I said don’t read the transcripts while you are listening because it tricks you into thinking that you understand more than you really do? Exclusively listening and reading. I mean, only listening and only reading and never actually using the language – never actually trying to think or speak in English – if you are just listening and just reading, that can also trick you! You think “I understand the material”, so you think that you have mastered it, and that you are fluent. You think you fully understand all of the words and how to use them. Then you go and try to communicate and you realize that maybe you don’t fully understand how to say certain things or how to structure certain sentences. There is a difference between being able to understand English and being able to speak English. Yes, you will eventually be able to speak fluently just by listening every single day. But if you want to get to that level much faster, then you should also be reading and using the language every day. 

Again, trying to use the language is going to show you what you don’t know. It will show you what you are missing. And then your brain will automatically focus on those things while you are reading and listening. Your brain will go to work filling in those gaps, on learning those things that you are missing. But if you don’t even know what you are missing, then how do you know what to learn? 

Your brain is incredible. It does this automatically. So when you don’t understand something, or when you struggle to say something, your brain basically puts an asterisk (a little star) by it, metaphorically speaking of course. And later on, when you see or hear that word in a sentence, your brain automatically sees that little star, that asterisk, and your brain pays more attention to it. Your brain goes to work resolving your doubts and your questions about that word. So using the language is the ultimate test. It will show you what you actually know – and what you don’t quite know yet. Using the language does not necessarily mean speaking out loud. Of course, speaking out loud is the best. But if you’re on a train or on a subway or in public, you might not want to be talking to yourself out loud. People might think you’re crazy! So here are three other ways to use English without speaking out loud:

  • One: use your internal voice in your own head to talk to yourself in English. That’s almost as effective as actually speaking out loud. You don’t get the benefit of practicing the pronunciation, but you can do it anywhere! So that’s great. 
  • Number two: write down one paragraph each night describing what you did that day. This is like a miniature journal that you write every night, just one paragraph. Take five minutes to write one paragraph in English each night describing what you did that day. 
  • Number three, and this is my personal favorite: in your head, ask yourself, “could I say that in English?” Throughout the day, no matter what you say, it could be something simple. You might tell your children to put their shoes on – then ask yourself, “could I say that in English?” Or you might say to yourself, “man, I am really busy today.” And then pause and ask yourself, “could I say that in English?” And this is a way to test yourself over and over again and is an extremely powerful way to check your understanding of English.

Alright, we have talked a lot about using the language today, so let me go ahead and end on a slightly different note. I want to tell you: do not be too hard on yourself. Learning a language is not like learning math or learning science. There is no deadline. There is no test. Nobody is grading you. So don’t be so hard on yourself. Don’t be so critical of your own efforts. You are not perfect, and you never, ever will be. And that’s okay! Making mistakes is normal and natural, and actually it is a good thing. If you are not making mistakes, then you are not trying to learn English. Remember, this is not math. This is not science. Language is a tool to communicate. So there is only one question that matters. Were you able to communicate or not? Were you able to express yourself in a way that the other person understood or not? If yes, then great. Congratulations. You successfully used English to communicate. That’s awesome. And if not, if the other person did not understand, or you were not able to express what you wanted to express, then great. You just discovered exactly where you need to improve. You learned what you need to learn. This leads us perfectly into the topic for our next episode, where we will talk about our expectations and our goals for the new language and how those actually fit into real life. We will talk about what it even means to be fluent. We will talk about getting over our fears, and we will talk about how we should realistically feel as we begin to use the language and step out of our comfort zone.

Alright, that’s all for today. I really appreciate you being here and listening to the entire episode. If you appreciate having this resource along with these 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, comments, or suggestions. All of the free transcripts along with my email address are posted on the website speakeasyenglish.club – that’s 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 incredible progress toward your goal of becoming fluent in English. Alright, we will see you next time. Until then, cheers!