August 5, 2021 , by Dr Julian Northbrook

The easy way to improve your English is to stop looking for “easy” ricks to improve, and start putting some time and effort into the things which work.

You need:

  1. A method that works (because if the method you’re using isn’t getting the right results, you need to change it).
  2. Materials that help you learn natural, native-like English (chunks, not words or grammar).
  3. The right mindset (because if you believe you can’t do it, you won’t).

If you get these things right, you’ll improve.

If you don’t, you won’t.

Improving in English really is that simple.

If you’re not sure what method, materials, or mindset you need: I have a free training here that will show you what you need to know.

Julian Northbrook

August 4, 2021 , by Dr Julian Northbrook

In general, yes, I would recommend using an English-to-English dictionary as a way to improve your English.

And this is because if you look at English definitions of words in an English dictionary, you’re actually doing something in English.

Here’s an extract:

You see, the more you remove your native language in your learning process, the better. And if you’re reading definitions in an English dictionary, obviously, you have to understand English first. So, when you’re reading these definitions, you’re actually leveraging your English. You’re using it as a tool to learn even MORE English.

However, if you use dictionaries in your native tongue, that’s another case. And I say this because English dictionaries in a different language usually have a lot of fuzzy translations. Of course, some specific technical words have clear translations… but then most of them still don’t.

Let’s take this for example:

If you translate the English word “cause” into Japanese, you’ll get a similar word in Japanese… but it’s not used in the way it’s supposed to be used in English. Not only that, you’ll actually lose most of the information you need. Like how the English word “cause” is only used in negative situations, i.e. “cause a problem” or “cause an accident”. You never really say “cause happiness”. And, you know, this sort of thing is hard to grasp if you’re just looking at word-for-word translations.

Now, this is not to say that all multi-language dictionaries are bad (some of them are actually good). I just think that it’s always going to be better to keep English in English since it has real benefits once you use them.

So, again, yes, you can use an English-to-English dictionary. But if you can, try to avoid multi-language dictionaries when your goal is to improve your English.

Now, if you need help improving in English faster, you can try what I like to call the “Two Track Approach”. You can learn more about this and other methods in 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.

If you want more tips, you can sign up for my free daily emails here.

Hope that helps.

Dr Julian Northbrook

July 22, 2021 , by Dr Julian Northbrook

Well, the brutally honest and probably not what you want to hear, answer to this is: SLOW THE FUCK DOWN.

You see, there’s this myth that native speakers of English speak very, very fast. And because you believe this myth, you imitate what they do, so you speak English like a teenager driving a car down country lanes at a maniac’s speed.

But this myth isn’t true at all. Most native speakers don’t actually speak really fast.

Sometimes, to non-natives, they only sound like they’re speaking fast. But what they’re actually doing is chunking and articulating their speech well.

And, you know, speaking fast doesn’t mean you’re actually fluent at all.

There are a couple of reasons why people may speak too fast in English:

  1. Their natural rate of speech (some do speak fast, some don’t).
  2. Their first language has a high average rate of speech compared to English. (e.g. Italian)
  3. Their fear of making mistakes (therefore they speak fast to cover it up).
  4. They want to impress people (they won’t).

When you talk about covering your mistakes and impressing people to sound fluent, what you’re actually doing is the complete opposite of that. People won’t understand you when you speak English fast and incoherently.

So instead of speaking fast, speak CLEARLY.

Focus on the clarity of your speech and of your speaking.

Work on the naturalness of your speech (native-like selection), which is speaking in high-frequency, native-like chunks of English. That way, you’ll sound better when you speak English.

If you want to learn more about how to speak better English, have a look at the free training I made. It goes into detail about how native speakers speak, and what learning (and speaking) in chunks means.

Hope this helps.

Dr Julian Northbrook

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