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Thoughts about learning foreign languages. News about PhraseMix.com

What would you do if you could speak English perfectly?

Imagine that you were able to speak English perfectly. What would you do with that skill?

Would you give speeches? Negotiate deals? Read great literature? Pick up women? 

Would you make friends? What kind of people would you be friends with? What would you want to talk with them about?

Would you move to another country? Get a new job? 

I bet that, no matter what your answer, you can probably start doing those things now. You don't need to wait until you're perfect. So what are you waiting for? 

Please share your English aspirations in the comments!


8 reasons why your English isn't improving

Do you feel like you're becoming better at speaking English?

I often get emails from PhraseMix readers saying something like this:

"I need help. I've been studying English for a long time, but I don't feel like I'm improving. What do you suggest?"

Here are some of the most common reasons that I think people "get stuck" and don't improve.

Reason #1: You don't spend enough time on it.

Improving your English ability requires a lot of time. To keep improving, you need to spend at least one hour every day practicing.

If you have a busy life and only study on the weekend, it's going to take a very, very long time to become fluent. You've got to do it every day. Even spending ten minutes a day is better than nothing.

Reason #2: You're too passive.

When I was a kid, I used to think I could...


How your brain learns English (and how it doesn't)

I sometimes worry that the lessons I write contain too much information.

"Information" includes anything that can be written as a "rule": grammar rules, explanations of the difference between two words, etc.

It's OK to learn information about English. But it's much, much more effective to become used to English through repeated speaking and listening. Here's why:

Your brain doesn't work like this

Your brain isn't one big container that can be improved just by dumping more information into it.

 

It works like this

Instead, imagine that your mind has two separate "buckets". 

One part of your mind (the Knowledge section) stores information.

Another separate part of your mind (the Performance section) controls things that you're able to do, like draw a picture,...


Listen to the lessons

You might have noticed that there's a new feature on PhraseMix. You can now listen to every key example sentence if you sign up for PhraseMix Premium

Learn more deeply by memorizing sentences

I provide explanations of different phrases with every PhraseMix lesson, but that's not really the main point. As I've explained before, I think memorizing sentences is extremely useful. The sentence is a "hook" which can remind you of all of the points that you learned in the lesson.

But memorizing a sentence just based on its written form is tough. Really, our eyes aren't made for learning languages. Our ears are.

Memorize PhraseMix sentences with audio recordings

Until now, you haven't been able to hear what a lesson sounds like. You just had to guess, or ask a friend

Now...


What does the perfect example sentence sound like? (Part 2)

This is the second in a series of posts about recording example sentences. Read the first entry here.

In my last post, I explained the process of recording example sentences from PhraseMix lessons. I also explained why faster and more natural-sounding examples are best. In this post, I'm going to point out some of the details that I listen for when I'm choosing a voice artist or a recording.

Natural connections

I hired professional voice actors for the recordings because they have nice microphones, good software, and nice, quiet recording locations. However, professional voice actors learn to speak in a specific way. It sounds clean and precise. For example, listen to this recording of the sentence, "You want to rent some movies?"

 

It sounds great and easy to understand. But it's...





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