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Filed UnderEnglish fluency

Hard-coding your English so it just runs on autopilot

December 25, 2020 , by Dr Julian Northbrook

Just over a year ago I ran the Taipei Marathon, which was particularly difficult as I was having several “daily issues” at the time.

And I sent an email about it to the Doing English Daily Newsletter, as I do with most things.

Anyway, one of my Top MEFA Girls replied with this:

Oh wow, Julian congratulations.

Thank you for sharing with us the details of this experience. It’s so great to know that once we reach a level our overall performance won’t be affected by daily issues.
Congrats again and have safe travels.

And my reply:

Thank you!

I’ll be honest and say there was a point I desperately wanted to quit… but REALLY glad I didn’t!

The “daily issues” she’s referring to were my super-hectic schedule, insomnia and overall lack of training (I did LOADS in the months before, just not in the weeks before).

But she’s totally right.

Get the ‘Good Shadowing Guide’ to build physical fluency fast here.

With any skill, once the motor skills and neural routines are hard-coded, they run largely automatically.

Yes, more sleep, rest and training probably would have shaved a few extra minutes off my time. But those extra benefits would have been minimal.

The months of preparation beforehand, building muscle, practising controlling my breathing (the big breakthrough for me that time) and doing a shit-ton of interval training to build stamina ensured that.

English is the same.

Factors such as how tired stressed or “out of practise” you are will make a difference. But once the hard-coded routines kick in, the English skill you’ve built will just flow on autopilot.


Assuming you’ve hard-coded the right English in the right way.

‘cos if you haven’t even done that you’re fucked.

But don’t worry: when it comes to building “muscle memory” for speaking English well, ‘shadowing” is an excellent exercise to use. Trouble is, the way many people use it is totally wrong… and so they’re just spinning their wheels and not getting anywhere with it.

Which is why I create the Good Shadowing Guide, which you can get here:


Dr Julian Northbrook

P.S. Here’s a mid-race selfie:

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