July 16, 2021 , by Dr Julian Northbrook

Reading, writing, listening, and speaking are (in a way) connected with each other.

But if you’re asking which skill is better than the other… then you’re just asking the wrong questions.

What you should think of instead, is your goal in learning English.

Think of what you’re trying to achieve.

Because if you’re only thinking of things such as, “I need to improve my English so I should read”, then you’re really just forming bad habits which are completely counterproductive.

So rather than forming bad habits, create good habits.

Try thinking along the lines of, “Here’s a book that I want to read, it just so happens that it’s in English”. Or “Here’s a radio show or audiobook in English that I really want to listen to.” And if you do that consistently, you’ll find yourself forming the right habits over time.

And again, all these skills are connected to each other. But varying the way you use English is better than just doing any one thing.

When you’re in your focused study time and you come across the expression “push the boat out”. After some time, you watch a show on TV, and someone says, “Oh, I’m going to push the boat out today, this is going to be the best party of my life!”. And essentially, that’s the same thing… just from a different type of usage.

Now, all of that exposure, whether it’s from reading, speaking, listening is all just as good as any other. In fact, it’s even better for your memory to hear and see the same thing over and over again, in varying ways. That will actually create the strongest kind of memory for whatever it is you’re trying to learn.

So, in that sense, all your skills are kind of interconnected because they help each other so you can learn more. And the best way to learn English is still focused intensive learning and usage in relaxed settings.

If you want to improve your English more, the best place to start would be the free training I created. You’ll learn the 5 key changes my best clients make to improve their English as higher-level English learners.

Here’s the link if this interests you.

Dr Julian Northbrook

July 12, 2021 , by Dr Julian Northbrook

If you’re trying to improve your level and you’re only listening to podcasts, of course, it’s not going to do much to improve your English at all.

And the reason why is because listening to podcasts is just passive exposure. And passive exposure is not going to improve your English much, especially if your English is already at a higher level.

Here’s an extract:

What you need to do is:

  1. Put intensive study into your English every day
  2. and in addition, use English extensively (i.e. passive exposure).

You see, when you study, you’re actually opening the door for passive exposure (i.e., podcasts in this case) to let it do its job. Once you’ve studied something, passive exposure can make it fluent.

But ONLY passive exposure will not help you grow your English.

It’s extremely ineffective, especially if your English is already at a higher level.

Let’s put it this way:

Think of passive exposure as droplets of water. If you put droplets of water in a tiny puddle, it gets bigger quickly. So you learn more if you don’t have much knowledge of English yet. But if you put droplets of water into the ocean, it’s not going to add anything much since the ocean is already big. This goes the same as when you already have a lot of knowledge of English. The better you get, the less any word or chunk has an impact on your English because your knowledge of English is just bigger.

For most people, the fastest way to improve in English is this balance of study and exposure, or what I call the “Two Track Approach”.

If you want to learn more about this method and how to do it, go here and study the free training.

Hope that helps.

Dr Julian Northbrook