August 24, 2021 , by Dr Julian Northbrook

When you were first learning English, sure you’ll see that you’re improving very fast.

But that’s only because you actually don’t really know anything then. You didn’t even know one English word.

And let’s say you only know a couple of English words as a beginner. And then you learn more words (either during your relaxed time or in your focused intensive learning). That’s already a lot of English! And of course that’s huge!

But see, learning English (as in any language) is exponential.

This means that the difference in the amount of learning you have to do increases more and more the bigger your progress is.

But to a certain extent, the answer to what you can do to improve your English depends on your situation… because everybody’s situation is different.

On its simplest level, if you want to improve your English (as my coaching clients did), you can start with a two-step process. It’s what I like to call the “Two Track Approach” which is:

  1. Focused intensive study (grow your bank of phrases, expressions, chunks, etc.)
  2. Relaxed usage and exposure (i.e., watching English TV programmes, reading English books, etc.)

But again, this depends on what level of English you’re in and what you’re actually aiming to improve on.

If you want to learn more about the Two Track approach (and other useful English-learning methods), you can start with the free training I created.

Hope that helps.

Dr Julian Northbrook

August 23, 2021 , by Dr Julian Northbrook

I learned Japanese to a very high level (fluent enough that I worked in a Japanese company, in Japanese) “at home”, and it’s also what I teach my clients.

When I say “at home” I guess you mean without classes. But honestly? Classes or no classes is simply a preference.

They’re neither sufficient nor necessary to improve in English, anyway. Or, in my experience very effective. The quality of ESL schools in most countries is fairly dubious at best…

So-called English teachers who’ve never learned a second language themselves, who still think “grammar and words” is the best way to teach, who have no clue about any of the developments in second-language research and who are reliant on textbooks (whether they’re appropriate to the student or not) so he (or she) doesn’t have to put any real effort into lesson planning…. yeah, you get the idea.

Anyway… I digress.

To improve in English two things have to happen:

  1. You’ve got to put time into learning and growing your English (study).
  2. And you’ve got to do stuff with that English (preferably real things, in the real world – none of this “speaking to practise” rubbish, which is just kinda pointless).
    If you do those two things every day, you’ll improve.

Find some good learning materials that match what you want to do in English (so if you want to speak well in conversation, find materials that give you natural, accurate samples of dialogues and conversations) and spend time every single day studying them. Then take the English you’ve used and use it in the real world (again, use… none of this “speaking to practise” bullshit).

Improving is as simple as that.

But BOTH steps are 100% necessary.

And of course, make sure you’re using high-quality materials to learn from. Textbooks and notoriously crap, and you should avoid anything that’s basically just “grammar and words” teaching. Ultimately, if you’re learning the wrong thing it’s all a waste of time anyway.

Also, if you have mindset/ confidence issues, you’ll also need to sort those out (you can use the best method in the world and the most amazing learning materials… but if you don’t do anything with it because you don’t have the confidence or think you can’t, well, it’s all a waste of time).

If you want more detail on what method you should use, what materials are best as well as the mindset side of things, I created a free training which shows you the 5 key changes you’ll need to make to see faster progress — you can access it by going here.

Dr Julian Northbrook

August 11, 2021 , by Dr Julian Northbrook

When you’re a beginner you’ll see real progress fast.

And this is simply because you know nothing at the beginning.

Let’s say you only know two English words and then you managed to learn two more English words. That’s already double your original English knowledge! And that’s huge.

But learning English (as in any other language) is exponential.

And by this, I mean we can compare it with earthquakes. You see, the difference between a magnitude 1 and a magnitude 2 is a little bit big… but the difference between magnitudes 5 and 6 is much, much bigger. And the difference between a 7 and 8 is insanely big. And similar to this analogy, the difference in the amount of work you have to do to improve gets bigger and bigger the further you progress, so while the difference between absolute-beginner and low-beginner isn’t very big… the difference between intermediate and advanced is enormous.

Naturally, you’re going to actively stop noticing progress as you go along the way. But it doesn’t mean you’re not progressing at all. Kind of like when you were younger, you never noticed how tall you’ve gotten… but it doesn’t mean you didn’t grow any taller.

So don’t worry too much about this.

A much better approach is to track actions taken, not proficiency gained.

This is one of the things I teach my clients (go here if you’re interested in this).

Hope that helps.

Dr Julian Northbrook