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  • Hi, I'm Oli.

  • Welcome to Oxford Online English!

  • In this lesson, you'll see six things we often hear from English learners we meet.

  • We see them in YouTube comments.

  • We hear them in classes.

  • Do you want to learn English and make faster progress?

  • Of course you do!

  • You should stop saying these things.

  • Stop sayingIt's difficult.”

  • Definitely, never sayIt's too difficult.”

  • Instead, say “I need more time.”

  • When you sayIt's difficult,” you're immediately taking a negative approach.

  • It's like saying “I can't do it,” “I should give up,” “There's no point

  • trying.”

  • This way of thinking makes you feel bad about yourself, and it discourages you from trying

  • further.

  • Everything is difficult when it's new and unfamiliar.

  • When you learn Englishor any languageyou have to deal with many new and unfamiliar

  • things.

  • But, guess what?

  • With time and practice, everything gets easier.

  • So, don't sayThis grammar point is too difficult.”

  • Don't sayWriting essays is too difficult.”

  • Don't saySpeaking fluently is difficult.”

  • Say “I need more time to understand this grammar point.”

  • Say “I need more time to learn how to write essays well.”

  • Say “I need more time in order to speak more fluently.”

  • This helps you approach your English learning in a positive way, so that you're focused

  • on improving and progressing.

  • Stop saying “I understand.”

  • Don't say “I understand this vocabulary.”

  • Don't say “I understand these grammar rules.”

  • Don't say “I understand what people say, but I can't respond!”

  • Many English learnersand language learners generallyfall into the same trap.

  • They confuse understanding something with knowing it.

  • But, really knowing somethingfor most learnersmeans that you can use it.

  • I understand *how* to play the piano.

  • You hit the keys in the right order at the right times.

  • I can't play the piano.

  • So, is it useful that I understand how?

  • No.

  • Let's come back to you, and your English.

  • You're reading something in English.

  • You find a word you don't know.

  • You look it up in your dictionary, so you know the translation in your language.

  • You think to yourself, “I know this word now.”

  • You go to English class.

  • Your teacher gives you exercises on a grammar point.

  • You do the exercise, and you get most of the questions right.

  • You think to yourself, “I know this grammar.”

  • Maybe you even complain to your teacher, and sayThis grammar is too easy!

  • I know this already!”

  • You read a text.

  • You understand it, or at least most of it.

  • When you try to write something in English, it's a mess.

  • You can't put your ideas into sentences, and your writing is full of mistakes.

  • So then, you start saying things like “I understand words but I can't use them!”

  • “I understand when I listen, but I can't speak!”

  • “I understand grammar, but I make mistakes when I speak or write!”

  • First of all, it's natural for your passive skills to be better than your active skills.

  • It's natural that your listening and reading are better than your speaking and writing.

  • To some extent, this is normal and it isn't a problem.

  • It's true for native speakers, too.

  • But, many English learners *do* have a problem here.

  • They focus on understanding, and then they complain that they can't use what theyknow”.

  • If you can't use it, then you don't know it.

  • If you make mistakes with a grammar point, then you don't know it.

  • If you can't use a word when you're speaking, then you don't know the word.

  • It doesn't matter if you've studied something a hundred times.

  • Can you use it?

  • No?

  • Then you don't know it.

  • So, don't say “I understand…”

  • Instead, say “I can use this,” or “I can't use this.”

  • That's what counts.

  • That's what you care about, right?

  • Stop sayingHow do I…?

  • Don't sayHow do I remember new words?”

  • Don't sayHow do I get 7.5 in IELTS?”

  • Don't sayHow do I improve my listening?”

  • Instead, ask yourselfWhat can I do today?”

  • SayWhat can I do today to learn some new vocabulary?”

  • SayWhat can I do today to prepare for my IELTS exam?”

  • SayWhat can I do today to practise my listening skills?”

  • We meet many students who ask huge, general questions like this.

  • How do I speak fluently?”

  • How do I write a high-scoring IELTS essay?”

  • How do I speak with a British accent?”

  • These questions are too big.

  • You don't do one thing to speak fluently, you do many, many things over a long time.

  • When you ask big, general questions like these, you get trapped in abstract generalities.

  • You're living in a future dream, where you somehow speak perfect English.

  • But, you can't control the future.

  • All that time you spend thinking about the abstract future, you're wasting time right

  • now.

  • Focus on what you can do today.

  • There's a saying in English.

  • Actually, it's in the form of a question: how do you eat an elephant?

  • Have you heard this?

  • Do you know the answer?

  • You eat an elephant one bite at a time.

  • That's what learning English is like.

  • If you look at the whole task, it seems impossible.

  • It's like eating an elephant.

  • It's too big.

  • But, you can do it.

  • People do it!

  • It's not even rare.

  • You can do it, too.

  • You just have to do it one bite at a time.

  • Focus on what you can do today.

  • That's the only thing you can control.

  • Stop asking questions likeHow long will it take me to…?”

  • Don't sayHow long does it take to become fluent in English?”

  • Don't sayHow long will it take me to get band seven in IELTS?”

  • Don't sayHow long will it take me to learn to negotiate in English for my work?”

  • First, no one knows.

  • You don't know, and I don't know.

  • No one knows.

  • Maybe you're a genius and you'll do it in four weeks.

  • Maybe it'll take you four years.

  • Maybe you'll never do it.

  • How am I supposed to know?

  • How's anyone supposed to know?

  • Every learner is a little bit different.

  • No one has the same experience.

  • Secondly, often, this question hides something underneath.

  • This question often says “I don't want to study English; I don't want to spend

  • my time and money studying English, but I have to.

  • So, how can I get what I want while spending as little time and money as possible?”

  • Look: being efficient with your time and money is a worthwhile goal, but if you're trying

  • to learn English and your starting point is: “How do I do this cheaply and without spending

  • much time?” then your chances of success are slim.

  • Here's the answer: if you don't want to study English, then don't.

  • You don't have to.

  • If you really don't want to, then you probably won't learn much anyway.

  • So, what should you say instead?

  • Instead, askWhat's the next step if I want to…?”

  • What's the next step if I want to get band seven in IELTS?”

  • What's the next step if I want to improve my speaking?”

  • What's the next step if I want to stop making so many grammar mistakes?”

  • Again, these questions focus you on the present and encourage you to take action now.

  • This increases your chances of making progress.

  • Stop saying “I can't.”

  • Don't say “I can't speak fluently.”

  • Don't say “I can't understand films and TV in English.”

  • Don't say “I can't write without making mistakes.”

  • Instead, ask yourselfWhy?”

  • Why can't I speak fluently?”

  • Why can't I understand films and TV in English?”

  • Why do I make so many mistakes when I write?”

  • There's a reason.

  • There's an answer to all these questions.

  • If you want to learn, you need to find the answer.

  • There might not just be *one* answer, there could be many.

  • The answer might not be simple.

  • In fact, it almost certainly won't be.

  • But, finding an answer is the first step.

  • Why can't you speak fluently?

  • Maybe you don't get enough opportunities to speak English.

  • Maybe you live 99% of your life speaking and thinking in your native language.

  • Maybe you lack vocabulary.

  • Maybe your pronunciation needs work.

  • Maybe something else.

  • I don't know.

  • Remember: every learner is a little bit different!

  • You need to find the answer for you.

  • Thinking this way will encourage you to take action and do something now.

  • Saying “I can't…” all the time just makes you feel bad.

  • Find out why, then do something about it.

  • Stop saying “I want...”

  • Stop saying “I need…”

  • Don't say “I want to improve my speaking.”

  • Don't say “I want to have a bigger vocabulary.”

  • Don't say “I need to get band six point five in IELTS.”

  • Often, when English learners say, “I want…” or “I need…”, there's a second meaning.

  • It's not bad to have goals or to want things.

  • But, if you say this, is this all you mean?

  • Many people who say these things really mean “I want *someone else* to give this to me.”

  • I want *someone else* to solve this problem.

  • I want *someone else* to wave a magic wand and get me my IELTS result.

  • I want *someone else* to take away all the bad feelings and the hard work and the difficulties.

  • It doesn't work like that, and it's never going to.

  • You heard this before, but I'll say it again: you don't have to learn English!

  • But, but, but

  • I need it for my job.

  • I have to learn English to emigrate to Australia.

  • I have to learn English for my exams at university.

  • No, you don't.

  • No one's forcing you to learn English.

  • You want to, or you don't.

  • If you want to, then do it.

  • If you don't, then save your time, your money and your energy.

  • And, for sure, no one else will make it happen for you.

  • Other people can help.

  • Good teachers can help.

  • English-speaking friends and colleagues can help.

  • But, in the end, it depends on you.

  • So, don't say “I want…” or “I need…” if what you really mean is “I want someone

  • else to give me the solution.”

  • Don't wait for someone else to solve your problems.

  • Take responsibility for your own progress.

  • I'm not saying that to be unkind.

  • I'm saying it because you're the only person who can.

  • That's it.

  • Thanks for watching!

Hi, I'm Oli.

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6 Things to Stop Saying If You Want to Learn English

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    Courage posted on 2020/04/01
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