Hi it's Ken here this podcast short is with myself Ajarn Ken we've got teacher Tino and teacher Michael another couple of English as a second language teachers from Instagram that I know very well. This podcast short, we'll look at a question it's a very, very common question I get to my Instagram channel Get English Tips and it is 'How to be an expert in English'
So everyone every teacher gets this question so it's really, really interesting to get three teachers and their different viewpoints on what makes you improve your English. So we talk a lot about the skills and how to acquire the skills, we talk about accent and pronunciation, not just with students but from our own experiences of traveling the world and teaching around the world, so very, very interesting.
I really hope that you find it useful and you get a lot from it and if you haven't already done so please subscribe to my YouTube channel to get all the latest English lessons that will help you to improve your English skills. So without further ado here's the podcast short.
Hi guys it's Ken here just before we go into this podcast short I’d just like to let you know about my new website GabToo.com. It's a platform for English learners to connect and to practice speaking English with other learners we have audio chat rooms and video chat rooms and also you can text as well. For members there are three drop-in conversation classes every week with myself where you can practice with a native speaker so check out GabToo.com g-a-b-t-o-o and hopefully I’ll see you there
Now how do I become an English expert this is I guess students ask this all the time because because they speak their own language, I guess they think people generally do they think it must be easy to speak another language because they do it already. So they think maybe it must you know it must be easy to kind of fit into learning a new language. How do you become an expert at anything? I believe to become an expert you need, and I’ve read about this, you need to take 10 000 hours of practice to become an expert. Would that would that be a fair comment?
Tino: yeah so yeah many people have asked me this question and I’m sure every English teacher in the world has received this question and the response I give almost sounds like a cliche at this point I mean you say practice practice practice I mean if you want to become an expert in anything I mean you've never met a race car driver who read the manual played a video game listened to some podcasts and then became a race car champion they go on the track they drive they drive they drive they get a feel for for the car they get a feel for what they like what they don't like how to improve in certain areas within weekend so it's just practice practice and practice and in terms of time I feel young people generally have more time compared to adults so you get adults uh studying once a week only in class with their teacher and they say I’m getting nowhere how do I become an expert and they stick to just the learning whereas young people have generally lot more time so beyond the classroom and beyond just learning using books and so forth they'll be like oh what's my hobby I’m really into minecraft at the moment let me get with some groups on the internet let me check some subreddits let me read some captions let me watch some Youtube videos in English about the subject so they take learning to a whole other level compared to a lot of adults and this is still learning this is still practice and it all adds up and that's how they become experts absolutely right yeah
Michael: yeah yeah I completely agree with every everything Tino said. I think that's that's all really good and make it make it fun as you said like with Minecraft if that's your hobby you know do what you can to make it fun um maybe you spoke about the more motivational side like how to build that I i often like to talk about the maybe slightly more boring practical side like um something that a lot of people neglect is like building habits um because Tino mentioned time adults don't have much time usually um and I think it's really important to kind of have this daily habit same time every day that helps where you can sit down you have a structure and do whatever it is you're doing and that could be it could be having like an online lesson maybe doing some listening whatever it is um a little bit every day I think is the key to kind of see progress in anything like if you think of it like exercise if you're doing it sporadically like not on a regular basis then you're not going to make much progress so find that routine and also try to find the fun side again because using the exercise metaphor if you're just gonna do some sit-ups and then check the mirror for your abs you're gonna be disappointed because you're focused on the the outcome and you're not focused on the journey and the enjoyment of you know learning the language rather than just waiting for the end goal you know how often do you think we should and learners who should practice before they look at their abs um I i guess you can you know whether it's exercise or language learning I guess you can do it continuously like you can do it at any stage I would say as long as that's not the main focus like you know even if it's every other day you're kind of thinking about your own level like how much progress have I made in these two days I think that that can be a healthy thing to look at because you're kind of seeing you know how is this going is there anything I need to tweak or improve but as long as you're not making that the main goal and the main goal is the making it fun uh maybe that's it making it fun does that make sense yeah you know yeah what do you think oh yeah no it makes absolute sense I almost spit out my water and my car but yeah it makes absolute sense and to add on to what he said about as long as it doesn't become the goal because if you're constantly working out and then checking your abs you become obsessed on your abs and you start neglecting your arms your legs because you're just focused on the abs so it's good to check on your progress but it's also important to move forward you can this is why you don't do abs every day or legs every day you need to touch up on other stuff even if you haven't become an expert in this particular area you go back to that part every in the week or you alternate today I think that's a good point
Ajarn Ken: I think having the goal is really, really important you know from my own experience then of learning a language. I remember I would then you know before my work I would I would get the Spanish newspaper I’ve said that I’ve told this story lots of times and I would actually start speaking and reading the Spanish newspaper every morning for about 15 minutes and just speak when I read you know me yeah you think and I would speak it and I felt after about a month my Spanish went from here to here you know just short as you said Michael just short kinda you know you know I don't know it's just short hits and into the language so you don't become a guest to not too bored but too override by everything you know everything becomes too much for you a lot I guess yeah and I think uh a lot a lot of students as well maybe feel that they're under kind of like pressure as well to to have the end goal so kind of making it as fun as possible is really, really kind of important you know
Michael: yeah yeah yeah it's kind of maybe just to summarize what what we were saying or what I was saying another metaphor that you could use is like if you're taking a long journey in a car like you could think about like the question could be you know how can I get to the end of this journey as soon as possible or in the best way possible but maybe the question itself is not the best question to ask you maybe you should be asking how can I make the journey more efficient or how can I make the journey more fun but not focus on just where you're going because else the entire journey is going to be miserable and you'll be really impatient
Ajrn Ken: absolutely absolutely I remember again a little story when I was in Spain I remember looking for an apartment to rent and I was very, very shy speaking Spanish I would cover my mouth like this you know and uh I thought there's an apartment a beautiful apartment let's let's you know stay acular had the phone number so I wrote it down but then as you said you know I i came I kinda wrote a dialogue what what am I going to say what are they going to reply how is the conversation going to go and I kind of practiced on that and I made that my little stop showing my on my learning you know to see how far I was progressing and a couple of days later I had the courage and I phoned up and uh the conversation went exactly how I thought it would go you know and uh I got the apartment but I was very, very [ __ ] I was very, very you know I was really pleased with myself that I’d I’ve seen myself making that little bit of progress you know i remember you you speak Portuguese you know yeah oh yes yeah I lived in portugal for a couple of years and I learned to speak a little bit of Portuguese and when I moved to Spain the Spanish and Portuguese language is very, very similar you know but the Portuguese is almost like a German Spanish a German accent you know you know so when I moved to Spain I thought this will be easy my god the accent is so different
Tino: oh yeah that happened to me because I started learning Spanish when I lived in Texas because that's what you do in Texas neighbors in mexico but after meeting my uh now wife back then girlfriend I kind of abandoned my journey into Spanish because at first I thought oh the languages are similar enough and but the differences are broad enough and the accents are very different right the Portuguese accent from portugal and the Portuguese accent from brazil uh night and day isn't it yeah so it's quite interesting and even when we speak about Spanish I remember my first trip to barcelona from the us and I was using my mexican Spanish and I was like this is not the same and they do this thing I don't like calling it a lisp thing because people get angry but I don't remember what it's called there we go like what are they saying why don't they just say so now it's like three different pronunciations and accents for the same language it's funny I was in costa rica for a while and my friends they are really funny he speaking Spanish and costa rica and then he started speaking Spanish or with a Spanish accent you know that I could really see the difference between them you know it's really funny do you think accounts are really important because this is again this is something I get asked all the time how do I improve my English accent and I’ve never you know only until I started using Instagram did I get this question from my students in thailand it was never a problem what's your thoughts on accents right let's say I’ll go so for me this one is a simple question I’m like everybody and I mean absolutely everybody has an accent it doesn't matter what language you speak and it doesn't matter what country you're in in the uk alone there's at least 17 different accents so I think what people mistake for accent is usually a matter of pronunciation yeah so the accent in my opinion doesn't matter what's important is pronunciation if you're spot on with your pronunciation and you communicate well people don't care about your accent in fact a lot of people find accents endearing but as long as you speak well as I find a lot of latin and asian people worry about the accent but if you look at a lot of europeans across the continent they speak English very well but with their own accents and they never worry about oh I need an American accent I need a British accent absolutely what do you think Michael I 100 agree that's actually exactly what I was going to say sorry to steal your point but um yeah I i do think there's a important distinction between accent and pronunciation and maybe a kind of a confession I can make all right you know I I’ve had a few quite a few non-native English-speaking friends over the years and to be honest I think if they did have an English accent I feel like I would like them a little bit less because really well I mean do you say that accent makes them endearing right like the fact they have an accent it's just more interesting um I think probably sounds better like there's so many accents I love to hear it's almost like listening to music yeah um it's so much nicer for me than just hearing accents similar to mine every day um it yeah it's interesting is the difficult thing is though I think when it comes to English learning is I don't know if we can get around this but like students are kind of folk students are encouraged to learn like receive pronunciation like standard kind of British accent whatever that is um you know I’m sure you you know about this Ken but you don't see many learners wanting to learn like a Scottish accent and quite often yeah yeah yeah exactly it's not fair and if you you know many teachers if they hear a learner saying I’m not going to mimic it but if they hear a learner saying like a Scottish or maybe irish pronunciation they might correct that because it sounds like a mistake and that that's always a tricky thing that I come across it's like yeah it's I don't know if that's a mistake I think the rp is is kind of very, very dated you know it's yeah uh always reminds me of like the 1940s kind of cinema you know and the the old style news from it you know actually I actually heard that there's around only about three percent of British speakers will actually have you know the rp accent you know it's very, very warm you know and I always try and say people it doesn't matter are you a clear speaker that's the most important thing you know and are you putting your point across that's the most important thing I guess yeah sorry to interrupt again but another thing that I love to think about is you know accent is kind of a sign of where you're from so I think it's something you should be proud of and also it's kind of maybe people like like Tino who have lived in many places around the world the accent kind of like is almost like a like a history of where you've been you know you pick up a little bit from here and there and it's almost like a little map yeah um I i think that's amazing and I think people should be proud of whatever accent they have yeah absolutely absolutely I mean I i sorry you know you're going to continue that's an excellent point so if you focus on clarity and pronunciation it's good but uh also like Michael said yes um accent is your rhythm and intonation it shows where you're from where you are raised but also it shows your journey because after you kind of learn English after a period of time where you live how you speak um the influence of the target language on you after a period of time will definitely kind of meld or merge or influence your accent because a lot of people have asked me where's your accent from and a lot of people will quickly say yeah oh it's a British accent and I’m like well if you put me in a room with some British people I’m sure they can tell that there's quite a few elements to my accent which is uh which are not British so yes it definitely has a lot of British influence because one Zimbabwe is a former British colony yeah to my time living in the uk but a lot of the words I use the way I draw out some of my words it's a lot of influence from my time living in Texas yeah and there are also elements from the shana language in Zimbabwe so if you hear how I pronounce certain words you can kind of hear it as well and also I can say that uh I have different caches of English within me I don't know if that makes sense so it's like when I visit my friends in the u.s my English kind of turns and becomes really American and I can say things not only in an American way but in a more Texan way I use a lot of Texan jargon her pronunciation and so forth same thing when I go to Zimbabwe if I’m speaking to my parents or from with people from the rural areas over there I use more of uh African English for lack of a better term because I know africa's 53 countries it's really over generalized and if I’m in the uk my vocabulary and everything uh changes as well I started using things like may to bang on knuckles things that I wouldn't use necessarily if I’m in the u.s or in Zimbabwe or depending on the level of the student in brazil as well yeah absolutely I think I think when you go traveling as well you your accent and your vocabulary and how you speak actually becomes more not flat but it becomes less regionalized if you like you know becomes so everyone can kind of get a grasp of what what you're saying I know when I spoke to my brother on skype after not speaking for a few months and uh immediately he went into the Scottish dundonian accent where I’m from and took me about two seconds to actually grasp on to what she was actually saying excellent excellent interesting interesting stuff so you hope you enjoyed that little podcast shot and I hope you learned something from it it's always great to have different teachers together discussing different aspects of English don't forget to check out GabToo.com GabToo.com for a platform to connect English learners all around the world and also remember there are three drop-in classes every week for members of GabToo.com. so hopefully I’ll catch you soon bye for now.