#130 - Improving Your Speaking Skills by Yourself

March 23, 2022

More and more people around the world are starting to ditch the language schools and simply learn foreign languages by themselves. But how can you learn to communicate in a foreign language without having anyone to communicate with? In this episode, I’m gonna share a simple activity that will help you to increase your vocabulary and improve your speaking skills even if you don’t have anyone to talk to.

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[00:00:00] What's up, everybody? You are listening to another episode of Life in English. I'm your host, Tony Kaizen. And today I want to talk to you about learning English by yourself. More and more people around the world are starting to ditch the language schools and simply learn foreign languages at home by themselves. But how can you learn to communicate in a foreign language without having anyone to communicate with? In this episode, I'm going to share a simple activity that will help you to increase your vocabulary and improve your speaking skills, even if you don't have anyone to talk to. All right? Let's do it.

[00:00:39] Now before I tell you about the activity, I want to tell you how I came up with this idea. One of my favorite rappers is known for taking three to five words that people suggest to him and doing a freestyle rap that incorporates the words. His name is Harry Mack coming out of scandalous Los Angeles, California. And I got to say, man, if you've got love for real hip hop, if you appreciate real talent, if you want to see greatness personified, then please take some time to check out Harry Mack on YouTube, particularly his Omegle Bars series. He gets on Omegle and asks people for three random words to inspire his freestyle. He turns on a beat and he just fucking murders it, man. Time and time again. It's insane. So I'm going to leave a link to his channel in the description for this episode. Or you can just search on YouTube for Harry Mack. That's H A R R Y, Harry. M A C K, Mack. Harry Mack on YouTube.

[00:01:34] But anyway, I was watching one of his videos the other day and I thought to myself, this guy's active vocabulary is so extensive that it almost seems inhuman or unhuman. It's one of those. I mean, the amount of different words that this guy has at his disposal is insane to me. Like, his ability to take three just random words and incorporate them into a three-minute improvised yet coherent song that rhymes is something that never ceases to amaze me. And thinking about his active vocabulary made me remember another one of his videos that showed him preparing for the tour he was about to go on. But since he's a freestyle rapper, he wasn't rehearsing the songs he would perform because you can't improvise, or excuse me, you can't rehearse a freestyle. Right?

[00:02:21] So instead, to prepare for his shows, he simply opens a random word generator on the internet, uses the words as inspiration, and starts improvising to a beat. Just to get the creative juices flowing before the show. You know what I'm saying? And that made me think about conversations with people. You're just improvising. Right? In a conversation, you almost never know what the other person or people are going to say. They say some random words and those words make you think. Then you respond with some improvised random words, and those words make them think. Then the cycle repeats itself and the whole time you're both improvising. It's not like you're reading from a script or something like that. Right? And that's why having conversations with real people is the most dynamic and effective way to learn how to communicate in any language.

[00:03:13] Now, improvising can be uncomfortable or awkward at first, but when you're doing it all the time, it just starts to come natural to you. In other words, you get good at improvising. You get good at having conversations with anyone. But what if you don't have anyone to talk to? What can you do? Well, you can do what Harry Mack does. Simply go online, open a random word generator, they're free by the way, and use those words to improvise your own freestyle. Now, of course, you don't have to make it rhyme. You just talk about each word and as much detail as you possibly can. And this is such a great way to learn new vocabulary and force yourself to think in English. But, not because, but this exercise will only work if you're willing to play and experiment and sound silly and just have some fun. You can't take it too seriously. You know?

[00:04:08] The point isn't to make the most coherent sentences or the most engaging story. Just talk and keep talking. Don't judge yourself and say more than you think you need to say. The whole point of the exercise is to talk as much as possible. And the random word generator forces you to think on your feet the same way you do in a conversation with a stranger. The difference is that with the word generator, you can take as much time as you need. No one's waiting for you or judging you. And you can do this exercise any time, anywhere.

[00:04:44] Now, something I recommend you do during the exercise is take notes, because you're going to see very quickly that there are a bunch of things you don't know how to say. And when you get to a point where you don't know a particular word or phrase, you got two choices. The first one is to stop and search for the vocabulary on the internet or send a message to your language exchange partner or your teacher or whoever. You find the answer and then you continue speaking. The second option is to simply write down all the things you couldn't say in a notebook somewhere, and at this point, you'd be writing in your native language and that's fine. But then search for the words and phrases after you finish the speaking exercise.

[00:05:23] So in summary, the main difference between your two choices is, you stop and search for something every time you hit a wall and you can't find a word or a phrase that you don't know how to say. Or you just write everything down during the exercise and later you go search one by one for these words and phrases and expressions and stuff like that. I just think this could be a much more intentional way of using your time when you're trying to improve your speaking skills and your vocabulary by yourself.

[00:05:51] So now I'm going to give you a quick demonstration so you can see exactly how I think the exercise should be done and then you can make your own adjustments to it if you want. You know, you do whatever works for you. All right? But if you're watching this on YouTube, I'm going to share my screen with you. If you're just listening, I'm going to do my best to give you the play-by-play, you know, the color commentary. You know? And use my vernacular to describe what's happening in the actualar. That didn't make sense. Actualar, I don't think is a word. I'm just playing around. So let me share my screen real quick. All right, cool.

[00:06:28] So for those of you watching on YouTube, you can see I've simply gone to the website randomwordgenerator.com. But if you search on Google or Bing or DuckDuckGo for "random word generator", I'm sure there are a bunch of different ones. But if you want to use the same one as me, then go to randomwordgenerator.com. So really quick before I actually do the exercise, I just want to talk about everything you see on the screen because this website is pretty cool. So if we look here in the left corner... Actually first, let's look at the header, the menu bar, the navigation bar, whatever you want to call it. You can generate random words or specifically random nouns, or specifically random verbs or names, or even complete sentences, phrases, numbers, letters. You can generate all these things randomly.

[00:07:16] So it doesn't have to be just one word. And now if we look in the left corner here, you can actually change the number of words. So I want three random words like Harry Mack. Or five random words or 10 random words. And I'll show you the benefit of using more than one word after I show you the basic exercise. All right? I don't want to lose you or confuse you. So to keep it simple, we're just going to generate one random word. It doesn't matter what kind of words. So I'm going to check all words and then I just click Generate. And once I click Generate, it gives me a random word and we just or I just talk about that word in as much detail as I possibly can. There are no other rules or guidelines. There's no wrong way to do this. You just talk. All right?

[00:08:01] So let's get started, man. Let's do a couple of words and see how this goes. So I'm going to click Generate a random word. Thoughtful. T H O U G H T F U L. Another thing that might be helpful is to spell the words out loud because all of it is just practice. There are times when you need to spell words, especially in English, because not all words are written how they sound. So you can be a thoughtful person and spell the word for somebody on the phone. Right? Like, if you call customer service and they ask you what your name is and you know you have a challenging name or a name that doesn't exist in their native language that you know people have trouble spelling, you can be thoughtful and immediately after saying your name, you can spell it. That helps the customer service representative a lot when getting information from you, that's a very thoughtful thing you can do.

[00:08:53] Speaking of being thoughtful, when I think of thoughtful, I think of flowers for some reason. You know? Because traditionally, in the context of a romantic relationship, a thoughtful gift to give your partner is flowers, and I never understood why. Like, why flowers specifically or chocolate specifically? There are so many things you could give to your partner. What if your partner doesn't like flowers or chocolate? You know? Being thoughtful is nice, but I think you got to know what they like instead of just getting them the generic flowers and chocolates. That's not very thoughtful. Like, you thought of me and you bought the gift, but I don't even fucking like chocolate. So were you thinking about me? Were you? You know? Anyway, it's good to be thoughtful, man.

[00:09:42] It's good to be full of thoughts. It's good to be full of thoughts. From time to time, not all the time. Because sometimes it's good to be void of thoughts, to think nothing. You know? And just witness, just observe, don't think anything. That's easier said than done or easy to say than it is to do. But, yeah. Anyway, sometimes it's good to be full of thoughts. Sometimes it's good to be void of thoughts. But being a thoughtful person is always good. Taking consideration of those around you and you know, the context of a situation and things like that. That's a good thing.

[00:10:22] Because I'm sure you've met people who are not thoughtful. If you drive a car on the freeway in the United States you come into contact with people who are not thoughtful all the time. Because people here, man, maybe it's just in the big cities. I don't know. But they drive like they're the only person on the road and nobody else exists. Like, What the fuck, bro? You know? No thought or consideration for any of the other, you know, thousand-pound death machines traveling at 90 miles an hour. No thought or consideration for any of that. It's just them on a three-lane freeway by themself. They don't give a fuck about anyone or anything else. No blinkers. You know, people that... Bro, you want to talk about inconsiderate people?! Because when you think about it, a thoughtful person is similar to a considerate person. Right? You think about other people, you take other people into consideration. So the opposite would be inconsiderate.

[00:11:18] So people who are not thoughtful, people who are inconsiderate, on the freeway, like the worst kind are the ones that drive slow in the fast lane, bro. I don't know how this works in your country, but here in the U.S. it's just like an unwritten rule, if there's a three-lane freeway or highway, the lane furthest to the right is the slow lane. You can drive slow on the freeway, but just do it in this lane right here. You know? Then the lane in the middle is moderate speed. Not too fast. Not too slow. The left lane is the fast lane, bro. Why the fuck are you driving slow in the fast lane? With 15 cars behind you. Just move over. Just move over, bro. I don't understand. Like, I don't understand.

[00:12:03] That's just like the way things work. If you're in a fast lane and the people behind you are going faster than you just move over one so that they can get to where they need to go. Why are you holding them up? You could easily move your hand like 15 degrees to the right and be in a different lane. Get the fuck out of everybody's way. That's thoughtful. That would be the thoughtful thing to do. But so many people, they're just like, "No, this is my freeway". I'm going to go as fast as I want in the fast lane, even if it's slower than everyone else on the freeway. Because fuck it. Land of the free. I do what I want. Right? Don't be that guy. Do not drive slow in the fast lane. Get the fuck out of people's way, man. Be thoughtful. Be considerate. You can tell I drive on the freeway every day. This is just, that shit... It used to drive me like batshit crazy. Now it's just like, it is what it is. There's nothing you can do about it. Right? There's nothing you can do. Such shitty drivers everywhere.

[00:13:05] Anyway, that's thoughtful. Now, I just did that whole tangent. I went off on that entire tangent based on the word thoughtful. So if you're still with me at this point, hopefully, you can get the idea is I just take that word, I spell the word, which is helpful for many reasons. And then I just think, what does it mean to be thoughtful? It's thoughtful a noun, a verb, or an adjective? Can I use it with prepositions in the phrase? What are the most common prepositions to use with this word? You know, am I pronouncing this word correctly? And what context can I use this word? Are there any synonyms for this word?

[00:13:36] Now, as a language teacher and somebody who's fascinated by language in general, I think much more deeply about language than I think the average person. I don't know if that's true. It's just in my experience. That's the impression I get. So I'm not saying you have to think, is this noun, verb, adjective? Which prepositions? My pronunciation... You don't have to like, be overwhelmed by all those questions, or even consider those things. The point is just to talk, but I'm saying when I'm talking about this word, when I'm thinking about what can I say about this word, I'm considering things like that. Hopefully, you get the idea. All right?

[00:14:09] So let's do one more word. Maybe two more. You know? Just for more examples. Give you something to listen to, and you can see how I do this. Because I understand that my first language is English so it's much easier for me to just improvise a random story or just start talking about any given word. You are trying to increase your vocabulary. But like I said before, if you're taking notes, you'll see you're trying to speak, you have things to say, but you don't know how. So now you go and study those things specifically. You go back and you do it again. That's how you practice and improve. That's how you fill the holes in your vocabulary so that you become solid, you have a nice, strong foundation upon which you can build. Hopefully, I'm not losing you. I'm sure you get the point. I hope you get the point.

[00:14:55] Let's do one more word, let's keep it moving. Difficulty. D I F F I C U L T Y, difficulty. Difficulty. A lot of people have difficulties, man. Everyone has difficulties. That's what's interesting, man, is when you talk to enough people from all different social classes, economic classes, races, different gender, different age, like all these different categories that we find ourselves in, when you talk to people from all of them, you realize that everybody's got difficulties in life, man. Everyone, even the person you look up to and you think their life is just perfect, they're living their dream. Even they have difficulties. Men, women, rich, poor, black, white, young, old, smart, stupid, funny, boring. Like, everyone has difficulties. Which is all the more reason to treat people with kindness and respect, man. You know what I'm saying? Because life can be really hard.

[00:15:57] So why are you, you know, why make it harder by being a dick or being an asshole? Why would you do that? It's good for no one, right? You put out that negativity, that disrespect, and that hatred, that black, nasty shit. You know? Just all that... Not black, nasty shit. What's the word I'm looking for? You spew that hatred. It's just... it's disgusting. It's nasty. You put that out into the fucking universe. You put that on other people. Karma is real. So it's just going to come right back to you. Which is going to make you feel bad, so you want to make somebody else, why would you do that? Why would you do that? Why make life more difficult than it needs to be?

[00:16:36] I've been realizing that a lot lately, like, just personally over the past like 10 years, just making life so much harder, so much more difficult than it needs to be. I heard a couple of weeks ago that apparently, the age the ages 18 to about 28 are what they call "the dumb decade" because as a young person from that age, you know, from the beginning of what we know of as adulthood to about 28, you just make so many dumb decisions, do so much stupid shit. You make life so much more difficult than it really needs to be. You know? And thus you make everyone else's lives so much more difficult than they need to be, man. That fucking dumb decade. And I feel so glad that I'm slowly inching my way out of the fucking dumb decade. You feel me?

[00:17:25] Difficulties, man. A lot of people have difficulties with English. And what's the main difficulty? Speaking. You know? I think listening is challenging at first, but when you do it enough, you get used to it. You listen to enough podcasts, you listen to enough interviews, you watch enough movies and TV series, you get used to it, eventually. Even if you still need the captions at the bottom of the screen, it's normal. But slowly but surely, you can improve that, and then once you get to a certain level, it just improves extremely fast. That's just the way the learning curve works. But when it comes to speaking, even the most advanced listeners, writers and readers have difficulty with speaking. Because no one speaks.

[00:18:08] I think that's in general, not just language learners. I think one difficulty that we're going to face in the future, especially with the next generation, it's just communication. What we know of as communication. Us old folks here, you know, 27 and up and shit. But we know of, what we know of as communication, which is like talking to a real person face to face, it just feels like it's becoming less common. I don't know if it is, it just feels that way. Like, more and more people are just used to... My phone is too far, I can't grab it. But people are used to grabbing their phone and just looking at the phone and watching something or listening to something and not being required to talk. You know what I mean?

[00:18:48] Like, most people, especially the younger people spend most of their day looking at a phone. Right? But they're not talking to the phone, they're just watching video after video, after video. Or looking at picture after picture or reading, tweet after tweet. But they're never talking. So a lot of people, I think, are just getting used to that being talked to, but not talking to people. I don't know if that makes sense to you. But that's what I think, man, I think that's a difficulty we're going to have to deal with. Now and in the future even more, unfortunately. So my recommendation is don't be one of those people, man. Get to talking. Because getting back to my point, the reason a lot of people have difficulty speaking is because they never speak. They never speak. They just listen, listen, listen, listen. And you can understand the difficulty when it comes to not being able to say what you want to say. But that just comes with time and practice. But there are a lot of people who can speak, but especially when it comes to a stranger or someone they don't know very well or starting a conversation and keeping it going, a lot of people have difficulty with that. Myself included, you know? I've gotten better over the years through practice and effort. But still, it can be a challenge. You know,?

[00:20:05] So I think that's the main difficulty. And this whole exercise is trying to act as a solution or an alleviation to that difficulty, let's say, trying to make it easier. Because again, maybe you don't have someone to talk to. But by doing something like this, things get less difficult because at least you're trying to speak, you're trying to think in this language and you're realizing what you need to know. So there's never going to be a situation in which you don't learn something new, a new word, expression, or phrase when you do this exercise. Unless your English, like, you know every word in the language and you've had every thought you could possibly have in the language, it's always something new. You know?

[00:20:47] So anyway, I'll stop the demonstration there, because I'm sure you get the point. All off the word difficulty, I just said all that stuff. I just let my mind wander. I'm not judging myself or really thinking too deeply about what I'm saying. I'm just talking and talking and talking. And I could talk for another hour if I really wanted to because I got 27 years of practice of just talking. Just like every other skill you have, it's just years and years of practice. So by sitting down, opening a random word generator, and just getting the juices flowing, you're practicing, man. You're practicing. So I don't know exactly what would happen if you did this exercise three or four times a day for the next month. I have no idea, but I imagine that your ability to think in English is going to improve like you never imagined possible.

[00:21:33] And this is something you can do if you don't have anyone to talk to. But even if you do have someone, it's a simple game. You can play anytime, anywhere. You can play it with another person. You know? Like, I give you a random word and you start talking and I critique your speech. You give me a random word and I do the same thing. Now, one other thing I wanted to show you, I almost forgot is using more than one word to increase the difficulty because maybe one word is boring to you and the word difficulty doesn't inspire you in any way.

[00:22:01] Another thing that I was thinking about making a separate episode about, but it's really the same exercise with just more difficulty. So I'll explain it now. You can take three words just like Harry Mack, generate those random three words. Like, here we have pitch, long and cold. And what you can do is try to create an actual story with these three words. Now again, you don't have to be like Harry Mack and make the story rhyme with every line, but you can take the words "pitch" "long" and "cold" and make an actual story. It could be a story with just five sentences, 50 sentences. It could be as long as you want. There are no rules, you know? Like, I love watching a good game of football on a nice, clean pitch, you know, after a long day of work on a cold winter evening.

[00:22:47] Just take those three words and of course, I have more practice with English that might not be so easy to you, but it's just an example. I just took those three words and just start talking. Just weave them into the speech because you're forcing your brain to be creative, to produce these thoughts and it's all in English. And there's no wrong way to do it. You can't fail at this exercise and the whole time you're just talking and you're not even thinking about that. You're just focusing on trying to have fun and be creative and let your mind wander. You know?

[00:23:17] So if you want to increase the difficulty, increase the number of words that you use, and maybe instead of talking just randomly about a specific word or phrase or expression, try to create a story. You know? Take three words, five words, seven words, and you can write this down if you need to first, or you can just speak without thinking and just create a random story. You know? I'm going to start doing this myself. So I highly recommend you do it, man. Because the benefits don't have to do just with thinking and speaking in English, but also just being creative, just improvising in general. You know? Getting better at storytelling and things like that. These are like, really good skills to have, they can help you in more than one way, but especially in the context of language, especially in the context of making conversation, especially with people you don't know very well, but you want to have some kind of connection with.

[00:24:08] It's all based on communication, bro. It's all based on that. So improving your communication skills will guarantee that everything else gets better along with it. Just trust me on that. Okay? But like I said, you can do this alone. You can do this with somebody else. You can do it as many times a day as you want, anywhere, anytime. On the bus, at the doctor's office, in your kitchen. It doesn't matter. Just find an object or a word and start talking about it. You can even experiment with the difference between thinking in your head and thinking out loud. Now, I don't know why, but it's much easier for me to think out loud in a foreign language than it is to think in my head.

[00:24:46] But anyway, if you end up giving this exercise a try, then I recommend documenting your progress. So record short videos of yourself every time you do the exercise so you can track your progress and share it with the community and me. Also, take note of all the nouns, verbs, adjectives, prepositions, phrases, expressions, and slang that you learn, you know, or that you need to learn during the exercise and review them from time to time. Talk to real people about the things you learned to make sure you truly understand what you're learning. You know?

[00:25:19] So I know that this activity might sound a little simple and silly, but I've come to realize that the best methods for achieving great success at anything are usually very simple methods. And this exercise is kind of like the "Wax on, wax off" type of activity that will help you to start speaking in more detail about anything you want. And the fact that you can do it alone means that it can help alleviate the problem for millions of people around the world who constantly complain about having no one to speak with, in English. Now, if you'd like some feedback on your English, if you'd like to have your mistakes corrected, if you'd like to be a part of a growing community of people from around the world to practice your English with, then consider joining the Life in English community.

[00:26:04] As a member of the community, you'll get access to our private English Conversation Group on Discord, bonus podcast episodes with transcripts and vocabulary guides, and you'll be able to sleep at night knowing that you're supporting your favorite English teacher. So for more information about how to join the community, you can visit lifeinenglish.net/vip. But that's it for now, my friend. I want to thank you for your time and your attention. I hope you enjoyed this episode. This is Life in English. I'm your host, Tony Kaizen. And I will talk to you soon. Peace!

[END OF EPISODE]

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[00:00:00] What's up, everybody? You are listening to another episode of Life in English. I'm your host, Tony Kaizen. And today I want to talk to you about learning English by yourself. More and more people around the world are starting to ditch the language schools and simply learn foreign languages at home by themselves. But how can you learn to communicate in a foreign language without having anyone to communicate with? In this episode, I'm going to share a simple activity that will help you to increase your vocabulary and improve your speaking skills, even if you don't have anyone to talk to. All right? Let's do it.

[00:00:39] Now before I tell you about the activity, I want to tell you how I came up with this idea. One of my favorite rappers is known for taking three to five words that people suggest to him and doing a freestyle rap that incorporates the words. His name is Harry Mack coming out of scandalous Los Angeles, California. And I got to say, man, if you've got love for real hip hop, if you appreciate real talent, if you want to see greatness personified, then please take some time to check out Harry Mack on YouTube, particularly his Omegle Bars series. He gets on Omegle and asks people for three random words to inspire his freestyle. He turns on a beat and he just fucking murders it, man. Time and time again. It's insane. So I'm going to leave a link to his channel in the description for this episode. Or you can just search on YouTube for Harry Mack. That's H A R R Y, Harry. M A C K, Mack. Harry Mack on YouTube.

[00:01:34] But anyway, I was watching one of his videos the other day and I thought to myself, this guy's active vocabulary is so extensive that it almost seems inhuman or unhuman. It's one of those. I mean, the amount of different words that this guy has at his disposal is insane to me. Like, his ability to take three just random words and incorporate them into a three-minute improvised yet coherent song that rhymes is something that never ceases to amaze me. And thinking about his active vocabulary made me remember another one of his videos that showed him preparing for the tour he was about to go on. But since he's a freestyle rapper, he wasn't rehearsing the songs he would perform because you can't improvise, or excuse me, you can't rehearse a freestyle. Right?

[00:02:21] So instead, to prepare for his shows, he simply opens a random word generator on the internet, uses the words as inspiration, and starts improvising to a beat. Just to get the creative juices flowing before the show. You know what I'm saying? And that made me think about conversations with people. You're just improvising. Right? In a conversation, you almost never know what the other person or people are going to say. They say some random words and those words make you think. Then you respond with some improvised random words, and those words make them think. Then the cycle repeats itself and the whole time you're both improvising. It's not like you're reading from a script or something like that. Right? And that's why having conversations with real people is the most dynamic and effective way to learn how to communicate in any language.

[00:03:13] Now, improvising can be uncomfortable or awkward at first, but when you're doing it all the time, it just starts to come natural to you. In other words, you get good at improvising. You get good at having conversations with anyone. But what if you don't have anyone to talk to? What can you do? Well, you can do what Harry Mack does. Simply go online, open a random word generator, they're free by the way, and use those words to improvise your own freestyle. Now, of course, you don't have to make it rhyme. You just talk about each word and as much detail as you possibly can. And this is such a great way to learn new vocabulary and force yourself to think in English. But, not because, but this exercise will only work if you're willing to play and experiment and sound silly and just have some fun. You can't take it too seriously. You know?

[00:04:08] The point isn't to make the most coherent sentences or the most engaging story. Just talk and keep talking. Don't judge yourself and say more than you think you need to say. The whole point of the exercise is to talk as much as possible. And the random word generator forces you to think on your feet the same way you do in a conversation with a stranger. The difference is that with the word generator, you can take as much time as you need. No one's waiting for you or judging you. And you can do this exercise any time, anywhere.

[00:04:44] Now, something I recommend you do during the exercise is take notes, because you're going to see very quickly that there are a bunch of things you don't know how to say. And when you get to a point where you don't know a particular word or phrase, you got two choices. The first one is to stop and search for the vocabulary on the internet or send a message to your language exchange partner or your teacher or whoever. You find the answer and then you continue speaking. The second option is to simply write down all the things you couldn't say in a notebook somewhere, and at this point, you'd be writing in your native language and that's fine. But then search for the words and phrases after you finish the speaking exercise.

[00:05:23] So in summary, the main difference between your two choices is, you stop and search for something every time you hit a wall and you can't find a word or a phrase that you don't know how to say. Or you just write everything down during the exercise and later you go search one by one for these words and phrases and expressions and stuff like that. I just think this could be a much more intentional way of using your time when you're trying to improve your speaking skills and your vocabulary by yourself.

[00:05:51] So now I'm going to give you a quick demonstration so you can see exactly how I think the exercise should be done and then you can make your own adjustments to it if you want. You know, you do whatever works for you. All right? But if you're watching this on YouTube, I'm going to share my screen with you. If you're just listening, I'm going to do my best to give you the play-by-play, you know, the color commentary. You know? And use my vernacular to describe what's happening in the actualar. That didn't make sense. Actualar, I don't think is a word. I'm just playing around. So let me share my screen real quick. All right, cool.

[00:06:28] So for those of you watching on YouTube, you can see I've simply gone to the website randomwordgenerator.com. But if you search on Google or Bing or DuckDuckGo for "random word generator", I'm sure there are a bunch of different ones. But if you want to use the same one as me, then go to randomwordgenerator.com. So really quick before I actually do the exercise, I just want to talk about everything you see on the screen because this website is pretty cool. So if we look here in the left corner... Actually first, let's look at the header, the menu bar, the navigation bar, whatever you want to call it. You can generate random words or specifically random nouns, or specifically random verbs or names, or even complete sentences, phrases, numbers, letters. You can generate all these things randomly.

[00:07:16] So it doesn't have to be just one word. And now if we look in the left corner here, you can actually change the number of words. So I want three random words like Harry Mack. Or five random words or 10 random words. And I'll show you the benefit of using more than one word after I show you the basic exercise. All right? I don't want to lose you or confuse you. So to keep it simple, we're just going to generate one random word. It doesn't matter what kind of words. So I'm going to check all words and then I just click Generate. And once I click Generate, it gives me a random word and we just or I just talk about that word in as much detail as I possibly can. There are no other rules or guidelines. There's no wrong way to do this. You just talk. All right?

[00:08:01] So let's get started, man. Let's do a couple of words and see how this goes. So I'm going to click Generate a random word. Thoughtful. T H O U G H T F U L. Another thing that might be helpful is to spell the words out loud because all of it is just practice. There are times when you need to spell words, especially in English, because not all words are written how they sound. So you can be a thoughtful person and spell the word for somebody on the phone. Right? Like, if you call customer service and they ask you what your name is and you know you have a challenging name or a name that doesn't exist in their native language that you know people have trouble spelling, you can be thoughtful and immediately after saying your name, you can spell it. That helps the customer service representative a lot when getting information from you, that's a very thoughtful thing you can do.

[00:08:53] Speaking of being thoughtful, when I think of thoughtful, I think of flowers for some reason. You know? Because traditionally, in the context of a romantic relationship, a thoughtful gift to give your partner is flowers, and I never understood why. Like, why flowers specifically or chocolate specifically? There are so many things you could give to your partner. What if your partner doesn't like flowers or chocolate? You know? Being thoughtful is nice, but I think you got to know what they like instead of just getting them the generic flowers and chocolates. That's not very thoughtful. Like, you thought of me and you bought the gift, but I don't even fucking like chocolate. So were you thinking about me? Were you? You know? Anyway, it's good to be thoughtful, man.

[00:09:42] It's good to be full of thoughts. It's good to be full of thoughts. From time to time, not all the time. Because sometimes it's good to be void of thoughts, to think nothing. You know? And just witness, just observe, don't think anything. That's easier said than done or easy to say than it is to do. But, yeah. Anyway, sometimes it's good to be full of thoughts. Sometimes it's good to be void of thoughts. But being a thoughtful person is always good. Taking consideration of those around you and you know, the context of a situation and things like that. That's a good thing.

[00:10:22] Because I'm sure you've met people who are not thoughtful. If you drive a car on the freeway in the United States you come into contact with people who are not thoughtful all the time. Because people here, man, maybe it's just in the big cities. I don't know. But they drive like they're the only person on the road and nobody else exists. Like, What the fuck, bro? You know? No thought or consideration for any of the other, you know, thousand-pound death machines traveling at 90 miles an hour. No thought or consideration for any of that. It's just them on a three-lane freeway by themself. They don't give a fuck about anyone or anything else. No blinkers. You know, people that... Bro, you want to talk about inconsiderate people?! Because when you think about it, a thoughtful person is similar to a considerate person. Right? You think about other people, you take other people into consideration. So the opposite would be inconsiderate.

[00:11:18] So people who are not thoughtful, people who are inconsiderate, on the freeway, like the worst kind are the ones that drive slow in the fast lane, bro. I don't know how this works in your country, but here in the U.S. it's just like an unwritten rule, if there's a three-lane freeway or highway, the lane furthest to the right is the slow lane. You can drive slow on the freeway, but just do it in this lane right here. You know? Then the lane in the middle is moderate speed. Not too fast. Not too slow. The left lane is the fast lane, bro. Why the fuck are you driving slow in the fast lane? With 15 cars behind you. Just move over. Just move over, bro. I don't understand. Like, I don't understand.

[00:12:03] That's just like the way things work. If you're in a fast lane and the people behind you are going faster than you just move over one so that they can get to where they need to go. Why are you holding them up? You could easily move your hand like 15 degrees to the right and be in a different lane. Get the fuck out of everybody's way. That's thoughtful. That would be the thoughtful thing to do. But so many people, they're just like, "No, this is my freeway". I'm going to go as fast as I want in the fast lane, even if it's slower than everyone else on the freeway. Because fuck it. Land of the free. I do what I want. Right? Don't be that guy. Do not drive slow in the fast lane. Get the fuck out of people's way, man. Be thoughtful. Be considerate. You can tell I drive on the freeway every day. This is just, that shit... It used to drive me like batshit crazy. Now it's just like, it is what it is. There's nothing you can do about it. Right? There's nothing you can do. Such shitty drivers everywhere.

[00:13:05] Anyway, that's thoughtful. Now, I just did that whole tangent. I went off on that entire tangent based on the word thoughtful. So if you're still with me at this point, hopefully, you can get the idea is I just take that word, I spell the word, which is helpful for many reasons. And then I just think, what does it mean to be thoughtful? It's thoughtful a noun, a verb, or an adjective? Can I use it with prepositions in the phrase? What are the most common prepositions to use with this word? You know, am I pronouncing this word correctly? And what context can I use this word? Are there any synonyms for this word?

[00:13:36] Now, as a language teacher and somebody who's fascinated by language in general, I think much more deeply about language than I think the average person. I don't know if that's true. It's just in my experience. That's the impression I get. So I'm not saying you have to think, is this noun, verb, adjective? Which prepositions? My pronunciation... You don't have to like, be overwhelmed by all those questions, or even consider those things. The point is just to talk, but I'm saying when I'm talking about this word, when I'm thinking about what can I say about this word, I'm considering things like that. Hopefully, you get the idea. All right?

[00:14:09] So let's do one more word. Maybe two more. You know? Just for more examples. Give you something to listen to, and you can see how I do this. Because I understand that my first language is English so it's much easier for me to just improvise a random story or just start talking about any given word. You are trying to increase your vocabulary. But like I said before, if you're taking notes, you'll see you're trying to speak, you have things to say, but you don't know how. So now you go and study those things specifically. You go back and you do it again. That's how you practice and improve. That's how you fill the holes in your vocabulary so that you become solid, you have a nice, strong foundation upon which you can build. Hopefully, I'm not losing you. I'm sure you get the point. I hope you get the point.

[00:14:55] Let's do one more word, let's keep it moving. Difficulty. D I F F I C U L T Y, difficulty. Difficulty. A lot of people have difficulties, man. Everyone has difficulties. That's what's interesting, man, is when you talk to enough people from all different social classes, economic classes, races, different gender, different age, like all these different categories that we find ourselves in, when you talk to people from all of them, you realize that everybody's got difficulties in life, man. Everyone, even the person you look up to and you think their life is just perfect, they're living their dream. Even they have difficulties. Men, women, rich, poor, black, white, young, old, smart, stupid, funny, boring. Like, everyone has difficulties. Which is all the more reason to treat people with kindness and respect, man. You know what I'm saying? Because life can be really hard.

[00:15:57] So why are you, you know, why make it harder by being a dick or being an asshole? Why would you do that? It's good for no one, right? You put out that negativity, that disrespect, and that hatred, that black, nasty shit. You know? Just all that... Not black, nasty shit. What's the word I'm looking for? You spew that hatred. It's just... it's disgusting. It's nasty. You put that out into the fucking universe. You put that on other people. Karma is real. So it's just going to come right back to you. Which is going to make you feel bad, so you want to make somebody else, why would you do that? Why would you do that? Why make life more difficult than it needs to be?

[00:16:36] I've been realizing that a lot lately, like, just personally over the past like 10 years, just making life so much harder, so much more difficult than it needs to be. I heard a couple of weeks ago that apparently, the age the ages 18 to about 28 are what they call "the dumb decade" because as a young person from that age, you know, from the beginning of what we know of as adulthood to about 28, you just make so many dumb decisions, do so much stupid shit. You make life so much more difficult than it really needs to be. You know? And thus you make everyone else's lives so much more difficult than they need to be, man. That fucking dumb decade. And I feel so glad that I'm slowly inching my way out of the fucking dumb decade. You feel me?

[00:17:25] Difficulties, man. A lot of people have difficulties with English. And what's the main difficulty? Speaking. You know? I think listening is challenging at first, but when you do it enough, you get used to it. You listen to enough podcasts, you listen to enough interviews, you watch enough movies and TV series, you get used to it, eventually. Even if you still need the captions at the bottom of the screen, it's normal. But slowly but surely, you can improve that, and then once you get to a certain level, it just improves extremely fast. That's just the way the learning curve works. But when it comes to speaking, even the most advanced listeners, writers and readers have difficulty with speaking. Because no one speaks.

[00:18:08] I think that's in general, not just language learners. I think one difficulty that we're going to face in the future, especially with the next generation, it's just communication. What we know of as communication. Us old folks here, you know, 27 and up and shit. But we know of, what we know of as communication, which is like talking to a real person face to face, it just feels like it's becoming less common. I don't know if it is, it just feels that way. Like, more and more people are just used to... My phone is too far, I can't grab it. But people are used to grabbing their phone and just looking at the phone and watching something or listening to something and not being required to talk. You know what I mean?

[00:18:48] Like, most people, especially the younger people spend most of their day looking at a phone. Right? But they're not talking to the phone, they're just watching video after video, after video. Or looking at picture after picture or reading, tweet after tweet. But they're never talking. So a lot of people, I think, are just getting used to that being talked to, but not talking to people. I don't know if that makes sense to you. But that's what I think, man, I think that's a difficulty we're going to have to deal with. Now and in the future even more, unfortunately. So my recommendation is don't be one of those people, man. Get to talking. Because getting back to my point, the reason a lot of people have difficulty speaking is because they never speak. They never speak. They just listen, listen, listen, listen. And you can understand the difficulty when it comes to not being able to say what you want to say. But that just comes with time and practice. But there are a lot of people who can speak, but especially when it comes to a stranger or someone they don't know very well or starting a conversation and keeping it going, a lot of people have difficulty with that. Myself included, you know? I've gotten better over the years through practice and effort. But still, it can be a challenge. You know,?

[00:20:05] So I think that's the main difficulty. And this whole exercise is trying to act as a solution or an alleviation to that difficulty, let's say, trying to make it easier. Because again, maybe you don't have someone to talk to. But by doing something like this, things get less difficult because at least you're trying to speak, you're trying to think in this language and you're realizing what you need to know. So there's never going to be a situation in which you don't learn something new, a new word, expression, or phrase when you do this exercise. Unless your English, like, you know every word in the language and you've had every thought you could possibly have in the language, it's always something new. You know?

[00:20:47] So anyway, I'll stop the demonstration there, because I'm sure you get the point. All off the word difficulty, I just said all that stuff. I just let my mind wander. I'm not judging myself or really thinking too deeply about what I'm saying. I'm just talking and talking and talking. And I could talk for another hour if I really wanted to because I got 27 years of practice of just talking. Just like every other skill you have, it's just years and years of practice. So by sitting down, opening a random word generator, and just getting the juices flowing, you're practicing, man. You're practicing. So I don't know exactly what would happen if you did this exercise three or four times a day for the next month. I have no idea, but I imagine that your ability to think in English is going to improve like you never imagined possible.

[00:21:33] And this is something you can do if you don't have anyone to talk to. But even if you do have someone, it's a simple game. You can play anytime, anywhere. You can play it with another person. You know? Like, I give you a random word and you start talking and I critique your speech. You give me a random word and I do the same thing. Now, one other thing I wanted to show you, I almost forgot is using more than one word to increase the difficulty because maybe one word is boring to you and the word difficulty doesn't inspire you in any way.

[00:22:01] Another thing that I was thinking about making a separate episode about, but it's really the same exercise with just more difficulty. So I'll explain it now. You can take three words just like Harry Mack, generate those random three words. Like, here we have pitch, long and cold. And what you can do is try to create an actual story with these three words. Now again, you don't have to be like Harry Mack and make the story rhyme with every line, but you can take the words "pitch" "long" and "cold" and make an actual story. It could be a story with just five sentences, 50 sentences. It could be as long as you want. There are no rules, you know? Like, I love watching a good game of football on a nice, clean pitch, you know, after a long day of work on a cold winter evening.

[00:22:47] Just take those three words and of course, I have more practice with English that might not be so easy to you, but it's just an example. I just took those three words and just start talking. Just weave them into the speech because you're forcing your brain to be creative, to produce these thoughts and it's all in English. And there's no wrong way to do it. You can't fail at this exercise and the whole time you're just talking and you're not even thinking about that. You're just focusing on trying to have fun and be creative and let your mind wander. You know?

[00:23:17] So if you want to increase the difficulty, increase the number of words that you use, and maybe instead of talking just randomly about a specific word or phrase or expression, try to create a story. You know? Take three words, five words, seven words, and you can write this down if you need to first, or you can just speak without thinking and just create a random story. You know? I'm going to start doing this myself. So I highly recommend you do it, man. Because the benefits don't have to do just with thinking and speaking in English, but also just being creative, just improvising in general. You know? Getting better at storytelling and things like that. These are like, really good skills to have, they can help you in more than one way, but especially in the context of language, especially in the context of making conversation, especially with people you don't know very well, but you want to have some kind of connection with.

[00:24:08] It's all based on communication, bro. It's all based on that. So improving your communication skills will guarantee that everything else gets better along with it. Just trust me on that. Okay? But like I said, you can do this alone. You can do this with somebody else. You can do it as many times a day as you want, anywhere, anytime. On the bus, at the doctor's office, in your kitchen. It doesn't matter. Just find an object or a word and start talking about it. You can even experiment with the difference between thinking in your head and thinking out loud. Now, I don't know why, but it's much easier for me to think out loud in a foreign language than it is to think in my head.

[00:24:46] But anyway, if you end up giving this exercise a try, then I recommend documenting your progress. So record short videos of yourself every time you do the exercise so you can track your progress and share it with the community and me. Also, take note of all the nouns, verbs, adjectives, prepositions, phrases, expressions, and slang that you learn, you know, or that you need to learn during the exercise and review them from time to time. Talk to real people about the things you learned to make sure you truly understand what you're learning. You know?

[00:25:19] So I know that this activity might sound a little simple and silly, but I've come to realize that the best methods for achieving great success at anything are usually very simple methods. And this exercise is kind of like the "Wax on, wax off" type of activity that will help you to start speaking in more detail about anything you want. And the fact that you can do it alone means that it can help alleviate the problem for millions of people around the world who constantly complain about having no one to speak with, in English. Now, if you'd like some feedback on your English, if you'd like to have your mistakes corrected, if you'd like to be a part of a growing community of people from around the world to practice your English with, then consider joining the Life in English community.

[00:26:04] As a member of the community, you'll get access to our private English Conversation Group on Discord, bonus podcast episodes with transcripts and vocabulary guides, and you'll be able to sleep at night knowing that you're supporting your favorite English teacher. So for more information about how to join the community, you can visit lifeinenglish.net/vip. But that's it for now, my friend. I want to thank you for your time and your attention. I hope you enjoyed this episode. This is Life in English. I'm your host, Tony Kaizen. And I will talk to you soon. Peace!

[END OF EPISODE]

Writing prompts

  • What methods have you used to improve your English by yourself?
  • What are some words you would use to describe your communication style?
  • What are some things you'd like to improve about your speaking skills?
Key Vocabulary & Grammar Guide
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Key Vocabulary Guide

Transcript

[00:00:00] What's up, everybody? You are listening to another episode of Life in English. I'm your host, Tony Kaizen. And today I want to talk to you about learning English by yourself. More and more people around the world are starting to ditch the language schools and simply learn foreign languages at home by themselves. But how can you learn to communicate in a foreign language without having anyone to communicate with? In this episode, I'm going to share a simple activity that will help you to increase your vocabulary and improve your speaking skills, even if you don't have anyone to talk to. All right? Let's do it.

[00:00:39] Now before I tell you about the activity, I want to tell you how I came up with this idea. One of my favorite rappers is known for taking three to five words that people suggest to him and doing a freestyle rap that incorporates the words. His name is Harry Mack coming out of scandalous Los Angeles, California. And I got to say, man, if you've got love for real hip hop, if you appreciate real talent, if you want to see greatness personified, then please take some time to check out Harry Mack on YouTube, particularly his Omegle Bars series. He gets on Omegle and asks people for three random words to inspire his freestyle. He turns on a beat and he just fucking murders it, man. Time and time again. It's insane. So I'm going to leave a link to his channel in the description for this episode. Or you can just search on YouTube for Harry Mack. That's H A R R Y, Harry. M A C K, Mack. Harry Mack on YouTube.

[00:01:34] But anyway, I was watching one of his videos the other day and I thought to myself, this guy's active vocabulary is so extensive that it almost seems inhuman or unhuman. It's one of those. I mean, the amount of different words that this guy has at his disposal is insane to me. Like, his ability to take three just random words and incorporate them into a three-minute improvised yet coherent song that rhymes is something that never ceases to amaze me. And thinking about his active vocabulary made me remember another one of his videos that showed him preparing for the tour he was about to go on. But since he's a freestyle rapper, he wasn't rehearsing the songs he would perform because you can't improvise, or excuse me, you can't rehearse a freestyle. Right?

[00:02:21] So instead, to prepare for his shows, he simply opens a random word generator on the internet, uses the words as inspiration, and starts improvising to a beat. Just to get the creative juices flowing before the show. You know what I'm saying? And that made me think about conversations with people. You're just improvising. Right? In a conversation, you almost never know what the other person or people are going to say. They say some random words and those words make you think. Then you respond with some improvised random words, and those words make them think. Then the cycle repeats itself and the whole time you're both improvising. It's not like you're reading from a script or something like that. Right? And that's why having conversations with real people is the most dynamic and effective way to learn how to communicate in any language.

[00:03:13] Now, improvising can be uncomfortable or awkward at first, but when you're doing it all the time, it just starts to come natural to you. In other words, you get good at improvising. You get good at having conversations with anyone. But what if you don't have anyone to talk to? What can you do? Well, you can do what Harry Mack does. Simply go online, open a random word generator, they're free by the way, and use those words to improvise your own freestyle. Now, of course, you don't have to make it rhyme. You just talk about each word and as much detail as you possibly can. And this is such a great way to learn new vocabulary and force yourself to think in English. But, not because, but this exercise will only work if you're willing to play and experiment and sound silly and just have some fun. You can't take it too seriously. You know?

[00:04:08] The point isn't to make the most coherent sentences or the most engaging story. Just talk and keep talking. Don't judge yourself and say more than you think you need to say. The whole point of the exercise is to talk as much as possible. And the random word generator forces you to think on your feet the same way you do in a conversation with a stranger. The difference is that with the word generator, you can take as much time as you need. No one's waiting for you or judging you. And you can do this exercise any time, anywhere.

[00:04:44] Now, something I recommend you do during the exercise is take notes, because you're going to see very quickly that there are a bunch of things you don't know how to say. And when you get to a point where you don't know a particular word or phrase, you got two choices. The first one is to stop and search for the vocabulary on the internet or send a message to your language exchange partner or your teacher or whoever. You find the answer and then you continue speaking. The second option is to simply write down all the things you couldn't say in a notebook somewhere, and at this point, you'd be writing in your native language and that's fine. But then search for the words and phrases after you finish the speaking exercise.

[00:05:23] So in summary, the main difference between your two choices is, you stop and search for something every time you hit a wall and you can't find a word or a phrase that you don't know how to say. Or you just write everything down during the exercise and later you go search one by one for these words and phrases and expressions and stuff like that. I just think this could be a much more intentional way of using your time when you're trying to improve your speaking skills and your vocabulary by yourself.

[00:05:51] So now I'm going to give you a quick demonstration so you can see exactly how I think the exercise should be done and then you can make your own adjustments to it if you want. You know, you do whatever works for you. All right? But if you're watching this on YouTube, I'm going to share my screen with you. If you're just listening, I'm going to do my best to give you the play-by-play, you know, the color commentary. You know? And use my vernacular to describe what's happening in the actualar. That didn't make sense. Actualar, I don't think is a word. I'm just playing around. So let me share my screen real quick. All right, cool.

[00:06:28] So for those of you watching on YouTube, you can see I've simply gone to the website randomwordgenerator.com. But if you search on Google or Bing or DuckDuckGo for "random word generator", I'm sure there are a bunch of different ones. But if you want to use the same one as me, then go to randomwordgenerator.com. So really quick before I actually do the exercise, I just want to talk about everything you see on the screen because this website is pretty cool. So if we look here in the left corner... Actually first, let's look at the header, the menu bar, the navigation bar, whatever you want to call it. You can generate random words or specifically random nouns, or specifically random verbs or names, or even complete sentences, phrases, numbers, letters. You can generate all these things randomly.

[00:07:16] So it doesn't have to be just one word. And now if we look in the left corner here, you can actually change the number of words. So I want three random words like Harry Mack. Or five random words or 10 random words. And I'll show you the benefit of using more than one word after I show you the basic exercise. All right? I don't want to lose you or confuse you. So to keep it simple, we're just going to generate one random word. It doesn't matter what kind of words. So I'm going to check all words and then I just click Generate. And once I click Generate, it gives me a random word and we just or I just talk about that word in as much detail as I possibly can. There are no other rules or guidelines. There's no wrong way to do this. You just talk. All right?

[00:08:01] So let's get started, man. Let's do a couple of words and see how this goes. So I'm going to click Generate a random word. Thoughtful. T H O U G H T F U L. Another thing that might be helpful is to spell the words out loud because all of it is just practice. There are times when you need to spell words, especially in English, because not all words are written how they sound. So you can be a thoughtful person and spell the word for somebody on the phone. Right? Like, if you call customer service and they ask you what your name is and you know you have a challenging name or a name that doesn't exist in their native language that you know people have trouble spelling, you can be thoughtful and immediately after saying your name, you can spell it. That helps the customer service representative a lot when getting information from you, that's a very thoughtful thing you can do.

[00:08:53] Speaking of being thoughtful, when I think of thoughtful, I think of flowers for some reason. You know? Because traditionally, in the context of a romantic relationship, a thoughtful gift to give your partner is flowers, and I never understood why. Like, why flowers specifically or chocolate specifically? There are so many things you could give to your partner. What if your partner doesn't like flowers or chocolate? You know? Being thoughtful is nice, but I think you got to know what they like instead of just getting them the generic flowers and chocolates. That's not very thoughtful. Like, you thought of me and you bought the gift, but I don't even fucking like chocolate. So were you thinking about me? Were you? You know? Anyway, it's good to be thoughtful, man.

[00:09:42] It's good to be full of thoughts. It's good to be full of thoughts. From time to time, not all the time. Because sometimes it's good to be void of thoughts, to think nothing. You know? And just witness, just observe, don't think anything. That's easier said than done or easy to say than it is to do. But, yeah. Anyway, sometimes it's good to be full of thoughts. Sometimes it's good to be void of thoughts. But being a thoughtful person is always good. Taking consideration of those around you and you know, the context of a situation and things like that. That's a good thing.

[00:10:22] Because I'm sure you've met people who are not thoughtful. If you drive a car on the freeway in the United States you come into contact with people who are not thoughtful all the time. Because people here, man, maybe it's just in the big cities. I don't know. But they drive like they're the only person on the road and nobody else exists. Like, What the fuck, bro? You know? No thought or consideration for any of the other, you know, thousand-pound death machines traveling at 90 miles an hour. No thought or consideration for any of that. It's just them on a three-lane freeway by themself. They don't give a fuck about anyone or anything else. No blinkers. You know, people that... Bro, you want to talk about inconsiderate people?! Because when you think about it, a thoughtful person is similar to a considerate person. Right? You think about other people, you take other people into consideration. So the opposite would be inconsiderate.

[00:11:18] So people who are not thoughtful, people who are inconsiderate, on the freeway, like the worst kind are the ones that drive slow in the fast lane, bro. I don't know how this works in your country, but here in the U.S. it's just like an unwritten rule, if there's a three-lane freeway or highway, the lane furthest to the right is the slow lane. You can drive slow on the freeway, but just do it in this lane right here. You know? Then the lane in the middle is moderate speed. Not too fast. Not too slow. The left lane is the fast lane, bro. Why the fuck are you driving slow in the fast lane? With 15 cars behind you. Just move over. Just move over, bro. I don't understand. Like, I don't understand.

[00:12:03] That's just like the way things work. If you're in a fast lane and the people behind you are going faster than you just move over one so that they can get to where they need to go. Why are you holding them up? You could easily move your hand like 15 degrees to the right and be in a different lane. Get the fuck out of everybody's way. That's thoughtful. That would be the thoughtful thing to do. But so many people, they're just like, "No, this is my freeway". I'm going to go as fast as I want in the fast lane, even if it's slower than everyone else on the freeway. Because fuck it. Land of the free. I do what I want. Right? Don't be that guy. Do not drive slow in the fast lane. Get the fuck out of people's way, man. Be thoughtful. Be considerate. You can tell I drive on the freeway every day. This is just, that shit... It used to drive me like batshit crazy. Now it's just like, it is what it is. There's nothing you can do about it. Right? There's nothing you can do. Such shitty drivers everywhere.

[00:13:05] Anyway, that's thoughtful. Now, I just did that whole tangent. I went off on that entire tangent based on the word thoughtful. So if you're still with me at this point, hopefully, you can get the idea is I just take that word, I spell the word, which is helpful for many reasons. And then I just think, what does it mean to be thoughtful? It's thoughtful a noun, a verb, or an adjective? Can I use it with prepositions in the phrase? What are the most common prepositions to use with this word? You know, am I pronouncing this word correctly? And what context can I use this word? Are there any synonyms for this word?

[00:13:36] Now, as a language teacher and somebody who's fascinated by language in general, I think much more deeply about language than I think the average person. I don't know if that's true. It's just in my experience. That's the impression I get. So I'm not saying you have to think, is this noun, verb, adjective? Which prepositions? My pronunciation... You don't have to like, be overwhelmed by all those questions, or even consider those things. The point is just to talk, but I'm saying when I'm talking about this word, when I'm thinking about what can I say about this word, I'm considering things like that. Hopefully, you get the idea. All right?

[00:14:09] So let's do one more word. Maybe two more. You know? Just for more examples. Give you something to listen to, and you can see how I do this. Because I understand that my first language is English so it's much easier for me to just improvise a random story or just start talking about any given word. You are trying to increase your vocabulary. But like I said before, if you're taking notes, you'll see you're trying to speak, you have things to say, but you don't know how. So now you go and study those things specifically. You go back and you do it again. That's how you practice and improve. That's how you fill the holes in your vocabulary so that you become solid, you have a nice, strong foundation upon which you can build. Hopefully, I'm not losing you. I'm sure you get the point. I hope you get the point.

[00:14:55] Let's do one more word, let's keep it moving. Difficulty. D I F F I C U L T Y, difficulty. Difficulty. A lot of people have difficulties, man. Everyone has difficulties. That's what's interesting, man, is when you talk to enough people from all different social classes, economic classes, races, different gender, different age, like all these different categories that we find ourselves in, when you talk to people from all of them, you realize that everybody's got difficulties in life, man. Everyone, even the person you look up to and you think their life is just perfect, they're living their dream. Even they have difficulties. Men, women, rich, poor, black, white, young, old, smart, stupid, funny, boring. Like, everyone has difficulties. Which is all the more reason to treat people with kindness and respect, man. You know what I'm saying? Because life can be really hard.

[00:15:57] So why are you, you know, why make it harder by being a dick or being an asshole? Why would you do that? It's good for no one, right? You put out that negativity, that disrespect, and that hatred, that black, nasty shit. You know? Just all that... Not black, nasty shit. What's the word I'm looking for? You spew that hatred. It's just... it's disgusting. It's nasty. You put that out into the fucking universe. You put that on other people. Karma is real. So it's just going to come right back to you. Which is going to make you feel bad, so you want to make somebody else, why would you do that? Why would you do that? Why make life more difficult than it needs to be?

[00:16:36] I've been realizing that a lot lately, like, just personally over the past like 10 years, just making life so much harder, so much more difficult than it needs to be. I heard a couple of weeks ago that apparently, the age the ages 18 to about 28 are what they call "the dumb decade" because as a young person from that age, you know, from the beginning of what we know of as adulthood to about 28, you just make so many dumb decisions, do so much stupid shit. You make life so much more difficult than it really needs to be. You know? And thus you make everyone else's lives so much more difficult than they need to be, man. That fucking dumb decade. And I feel so glad that I'm slowly inching my way out of the fucking dumb decade. You feel me?

[00:17:25] Difficulties, man. A lot of people have difficulties with English. And what's the main difficulty? Speaking. You know? I think listening is challenging at first, but when you do it enough, you get used to it. You listen to enough podcasts, you listen to enough interviews, you watch enough movies and TV series, you get used to it, eventually. Even if you still need the captions at the bottom of the screen, it's normal. But slowly but surely, you can improve that, and then once you get to a certain level, it just improves extremely fast. That's just the way the learning curve works. But when it comes to speaking, even the most advanced listeners, writers and readers have difficulty with speaking. Because no one speaks.

[00:18:08] I think that's in general, not just language learners. I think one difficulty that we're going to face in the future, especially with the next generation, it's just communication. What we know of as communication. Us old folks here, you know, 27 and up and shit. But we know of, what we know of as communication, which is like talking to a real person face to face, it just feels like it's becoming less common. I don't know if it is, it just feels that way. Like, more and more people are just used to... My phone is too far, I can't grab it. But people are used to grabbing their phone and just looking at the phone and watching something or listening to something and not being required to talk. You know what I mean?

[00:18:48] Like, most people, especially the younger people spend most of their day looking at a phone. Right? But they're not talking to the phone, they're just watching video after video, after video. Or looking at picture after picture or reading, tweet after tweet. But they're never talking. So a lot of people, I think, are just getting used to that being talked to, but not talking to people. I don't know if that makes sense to you. But that's what I think, man, I think that's a difficulty we're going to have to deal with. Now and in the future even more, unfortunately. So my recommendation is don't be one of those people, man. Get to talking. Because getting back to my point, the reason a lot of people have difficulty speaking is because they never speak. They never speak. They just listen, listen, listen, listen. And you can understand the difficulty when it comes to not being able to say what you want to say. But that just comes with time and practice. But there are a lot of people who can speak, but especially when it comes to a stranger or someone they don't know very well or starting a conversation and keeping it going, a lot of people have difficulty with that. Myself included, you know? I've gotten better over the years through practice and effort. But still, it can be a challenge. You know,?

[00:20:05] So I think that's the main difficulty. And this whole exercise is trying to act as a solution or an alleviation to that difficulty, let's say, trying to make it easier. Because again, maybe you don't have someone to talk to. But by doing something like this, things get less difficult because at least you're trying to speak, you're trying to think in this language and you're realizing what you need to know. So there's never going to be a situation in which you don't learn something new, a new word, expression, or phrase when you do this exercise. Unless your English, like, you know every word in the language and you've had every thought you could possibly have in the language, it's always something new. You know?

[00:20:47] So anyway, I'll stop the demonstration there, because I'm sure you get the point. All off the word difficulty, I just said all that stuff. I just let my mind wander. I'm not judging myself or really thinking too deeply about what I'm saying. I'm just talking and talking and talking. And I could talk for another hour if I really wanted to because I got 27 years of practice of just talking. Just like every other skill you have, it's just years and years of practice. So by sitting down, opening a random word generator, and just getting the juices flowing, you're practicing, man. You're practicing. So I don't know exactly what would happen if you did this exercise three or four times a day for the next month. I have no idea, but I imagine that your ability to think in English is going to improve like you never imagined possible.

[00:21:33] And this is something you can do if you don't have anyone to talk to. But even if you do have someone, it's a simple game. You can play anytime, anywhere. You can play it with another person. You know? Like, I give you a random word and you start talking and I critique your speech. You give me a random word and I do the same thing. Now, one other thing I wanted to show you, I almost forgot is using more than one word to increase the difficulty because maybe one word is boring to you and the word difficulty doesn't inspire you in any way.

[00:22:01] Another thing that I was thinking about making a separate episode about, but it's really the same exercise with just more difficulty. So I'll explain it now. You can take three words just like Harry Mack, generate those random three words. Like, here we have pitch, long and cold. And what you can do is try to create an actual story with these three words. Now again, you don't have to be like Harry Mack and make the story rhyme with every line, but you can take the words "pitch" "long" and "cold" and make an actual story. It could be a story with just five sentences, 50 sentences. It could be as long as you want. There are no rules, you know? Like, I love watching a good game of football on a nice, clean pitch, you know, after a long day of work on a cold winter evening.

[00:22:47] Just take those three words and of course, I have more practice with English that might not be so easy to you, but it's just an example. I just took those three words and just start talking. Just weave them into the speech because you're forcing your brain to be creative, to produce these thoughts and it's all in English. And there's no wrong way to do it. You can't fail at this exercise and the whole time you're just talking and you're not even thinking about that. You're just focusing on trying to have fun and be creative and let your mind wander. You know?

[00:23:17] So if you want to increase the difficulty, increase the number of words that you use, and maybe instead of talking just randomly about a specific word or phrase or expression, try to create a story. You know? Take three words, five words, seven words, and you can write this down if you need to first, or you can just speak without thinking and just create a random story. You know? I'm going to start doing this myself. So I highly recommend you do it, man. Because the benefits don't have to do just with thinking and speaking in English, but also just being creative, just improvising in general. You know? Getting better at storytelling and things like that. These are like, really good skills to have, they can help you in more than one way, but especially in the context of language, especially in the context of making conversation, especially with people you don't know very well, but you want to have some kind of connection with.

[00:24:08] It's all based on communication, bro. It's all based on that. So improving your communication skills will guarantee that everything else gets better along with it. Just trust me on that. Okay? But like I said, you can do this alone. You can do this with somebody else. You can do it as many times a day as you want, anywhere, anytime. On the bus, at the doctor's office, in your kitchen. It doesn't matter. Just find an object or a word and start talking about it. You can even experiment with the difference between thinking in your head and thinking out loud. Now, I don't know why, but it's much easier for me to think out loud in a foreign language than it is to think in my head.

[00:24:46] But anyway, if you end up giving this exercise a try, then I recommend documenting your progress. So record short videos of yourself every time you do the exercise so you can track your progress and share it with the community and me. Also, take note of all the nouns, verbs, adjectives, prepositions, phrases, expressions, and slang that you learn, you know, or that you need to learn during the exercise and review them from time to time. Talk to real people about the things you learned to make sure you truly understand what you're learning. You know?

[00:25:19] So I know that this activity might sound a little simple and silly, but I've come to realize that the best methods for achieving great success at anything are usually very simple methods. And this exercise is kind of like the "Wax on, wax off" type of activity that will help you to start speaking in more detail about anything you want. And the fact that you can do it alone means that it can help alleviate the problem for millions of people around the world who constantly complain about having no one to speak with, in English. Now, if you'd like some feedback on your English, if you'd like to have your mistakes corrected, if you'd like to be a part of a growing community of people from around the world to practice your English with, then consider joining the Life in English community.

[00:26:04] As a member of the community, you'll get access to our private English Conversation Group on Discord, bonus podcast episodes with transcripts and vocabulary guides, and you'll be able to sleep at night knowing that you're supporting your favorite English teacher. So for more information about how to join the community, you can visit lifeinenglish.net/vip. But that's it for now, my friend. I want to thank you for your time and your attention. I hope you enjoyed this episode. This is Life in English. I'm your host, Tony Kaizen. And I will talk to you soon. Peace!

[END OF EPISODE]

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