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Will Improving English Change Your Identity?

January 15, 2019 , by Dr Julian Northbrook

Yesterday I was talking to one of my coaching clients.

She’s living in the UK, and has seen an enormous amount of progress over the last 90 days or so. But one thing she said to me, is that she used to think of English as just being a kind of tool to use to speak to people… and that’s it.

But now she sees it as something greater than that. She said she sees the connection between the language—the words, phrases and expressions we use—and the way we think about the world.

“Improving my English”, she said, “has changed my identity”.

She not only speaks in a different way…

… but thinks and behaves in a different way.

Language, culture and knowledge are all mixed together. And one of the big mistakes people make is thinking that to speak great English all they need to do is memorise more words and expressions.

But this doesn’t work.

You’ve got to consider how those words and expressions are USED. The context. And how people are going to understand the things you say… based on how they THINK, which may be very, very different to how you think.

Great example —

An American man walks into a bar in Amsterdam, sits down and orders a beer. He gets chatting to a Dutch lady sitting near him at the bar.

They chat, and then—because he doesn’t know what else to say—he asks, “So, what do you do?”

Instead of answering, the woman gets offended!

“What difference does it make? Would you think less of me if I was a janitor, or more of me if I was a CEO?”

To the American, this was a perfectly innocent question — but he asked it based on his own way of thinking, without realising that this is somewhat of a rude thing to ask in the Netherlands (or so I’m told).

Culture defines the things we say.

And therefore, the things we say define our culture.

It’s a two-way process…

… and not only do you need to learn to think differently in English, but speaking English will change the way you think.

And if you’re struggling to speak well in English conversation?

That is, at an “advanced” level…

My book, “Advanced English Conversation” will show you step by step what you need to do. I teach you everything you need to know to reach an advanced level when it comes to speaking in everyday casual and business conversation (you can get it here).

The place to get your copy is here.


P.S. This book is also available on as a part of the complete “Advanced English” series. You can find information about that here.

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