HOW TO USE THIS LESSON
Step 1 – Listen to the podcast episode 2-3 times.
Step 2 – Listen again while reading the transcript.
Step 3 – Study the new words and expressions by listening to the vocabulary lesson.
Step 4 – Listen to the podcast episode again until you have 100% comprehension.
without music version
READ TRANSCRIPT HERE
Hello there, Kevin here with another episode of the Feel Good English podcast, teaching you how to become a better English speaker and teaching you life skills as well.
Today I am going to be giving you some ideas based on a book on how to learn a foreign language. Hey, that sounds pretty interesting, huh?
If you are listening to this, it’s very likely you have learned a foreign language which is English; good for you, great job by the way.
And maybe you have tried or you are considering learning another foreign language. This book has some very valuable advice and strategies on how to do that. And don’t forget, and I talk about this a lot, I believe everyone learns a foreign language differently and at least they have their own preference on how to learn, you have to make the process fun and interesting.
So even though this book has great tips, it’s not like it has the answer for everybody. We have to experiment, try out different things, see what works for us, see what we enjoy doing and keep applying those methods.
However, there are universal methods of learning a foreign language, methods that I believe most people can benefit from. And through research and experimentation, we can learn these methods and apply them and see quicker results in our language learning journey, our language learning process. And the book “Fluent Forever“ has great tips.
So I am going to talk about a few of the different strategies in the book that I find very useful, you might know some of them, you might not know some of them. One of them is even going to help you remember people’s names.
One cool bonus of learning how to learn a foreign language effectively is you will also learn in general how to memorize information and learn information because that is what you’re doing when you’re learning a new language, you are memorizing and discovering ways to retain information and this name remembering hack is awesome, and it works; so listen in to learn that technique.
If you want a transcript to this episode, go to my website, feelgoodenglish.com, you will find it there. You can get transcripts to this and all of the Feel Good English podcast episodes; those are quite helpful so go check that out (check out) after the episode.
Now let’s get into the episode on the book “Fluent Forever” by Gabrielle Wyner.
The first idea here is that when it comes to memory, recalling is better than reviewing; recalling is better than reviewing. So what is the difference? Well, let me try to explain it in simple terms.
So, if you are reviewing information, literally think of view, your eyes, you are seeing something, you are viewing something; you are just looking at something many many times. So you have notes you write down notes in class and you view, you look at those notes over and over and over.
Whereas recall, think of calling somebody or actually using your language and talking to somebody; if you recall information you’re taking it out of your brain, or you’re finding those words and those phrases that you’ve learned and you are using them to communicate, are using them to figure something out; so you are actually pulling that information out of your head as opposed to just seeing it.
Something we often do is cram for an exam, cramming for an exam, this is what cramming is: you have a test next Friday, it’s a big test, it’s a final exam, and when do you study? Well, probably Thursday night, right? Six hours of intense studying Thursday night for your exam which happens on a Friday; that’s called cramming. We go over the material many times, we review it many many times, trying to retain as much information as possible the night before.
But one big issue with this is if you cram for a test you might have that information the next day, you might do well on the test, great, however, you are not going to remember this information, it will disappear very quickly. And if you’ve ever tried that before, you crammed for a test, you might do well enough, you’ve studied hard enough the night before; however, the next week you basically don’t remember a thing that you learned.
What we are talking about here is a long-term memory and if we’re going to speak a language well, if we’re going to learn a language to fluency, we need to utilize our long-term memory. Not just so that we can use those vocab words for the next day, we need to be able to use the language we learned forever, and this is done by recalling.
The word recall, recall or retrieving information from the past tells your brain something is important to remember, you’re actually pulling that out of your brain, telling your brain “Okay, I guess I am going to have to remember this.” And this is why using language in real situations, in natural situations is so valuable. If you go to school and you’re learning English, and you’re taking a test and you’re just reviewing your notes and going over these notes, and some people are good at that, then they do well on tests, but in real conversations that information is not there because they have never actually had to pull it out of their brains to use it in a real life situation. When you have to recall the information, let’s say you’re talking to somebody and you actually have to think of a word that you learned, when you are able to use that in a conversation correctly, it sticks.
I don’t know how many times when I was learning Portuguese, I would study a word on a piece of paper many many times, and then thirty minutes later I would forget it and I felt like a complete, freaking idiot. Because I would see it, I would see it and then thirty minutes later I would forget it, so I go “God, I am dumb as hell.”
But it happens to a lot of us; my memory, my short term memory maybe isn’t great. But if I was able to use these words in a conversation, even if it’s on paper and I am talking to somebody and I see it and I use it, and then maybe the next day I pull it out of my head, I recall this word, I use it in conversation, that is when you start really memorizing vocabulary forever.
And that’s why it’s effective if you focus on a specific topic and you use the same vocabulary words and you focus on that for let’s say, a week, and you keep recalling the same words, you keep reusing these words in conversation, writing them down, even hearing them, reading them, you don’t have to produce the language, you could recall it just by seeing it on a piece of paper and knowing what it means; this is how we expand our vocabulary very quickly.
This next one’s quite interesting, and I remember learning this way back when I was taking some linguistic courses at university, something that is huge, something that I talk about a lot, something that is very important is a concept called Comprehensible input.
Comprehensible input is input, English, for example, that you can understand; often you can understand it through visual cues. If you are in Brazil for example and you don’t speak any Portuguese and somebody walks up to you at a bar and says [something in Portuguese 07:47]. You would look at that person and say “What are you doing? Get out of here, you are crazy. I don’t understand you.”
But if he looks at you and he slowly says [something in Portuguese at this point 8:00] and he holds a beer in his hand and he points to the beer, you say “Oh, this guy wants to know if I want a beer.” That’s comprehensible input. You might have learned the word [Portuguese word 8:15], or you might have learned the word [Portuguese word 8:19] which means beer in Portuguese and you will learn very slowly like that.
So in a practical sense, how do you apply this to language learning? Find simplified language, simple sentences, simple grammar, a lot of videos, a lot of pictures, a lot of images and start from there and slowly progress the natural way.
So literally learn from children’s material, children’s books, children’s audio, children’s videos. Don’t let your ego get in the way of thinking that it’s not cool to learn from children’s material. Learn a language like a child and learn it the way that it is supposed to be learned.
Kind of connected with the last one, going further with how to remember new words like beer; images and personal connections make remembering easier for the brain, and this is how you’re going to remember someone’s name when you meet them. And you’ll be the guy or gal, that remembers people’s names, this system works.
Like I said, if you don’t connect a word to a feeling, an emotion, an image, a situation, it disappears, it doesn’t stick. We need to make connections with words, connecting words to a personal experience; it could be an emotion, something like that.
But here we go, this is how you are never going to forget somebody’s name when you meet them.
When you meet somebody, let’s say you meet somebody named Angelica and you meet this girl her name is Angelica, say, “Hi, Angelica. How are you?”
What you need to do is think of another Angelica that you know; it could be a friend or it could even be a famous person, but somebody with the name Angelica that you can visualize when you see this new Angelica.
And while you’re talking to Angelica, the new Angelica, you’re going to visualize in your head the other Angelica, you’re going to connect that person with the situation, you’re going to think of that person and you’re going to look at the new Angelica and you’re going to make that connection with an Angelica that you already know.
This gets a little harder if you don’t know another Angelica, then you‘re going to have to be a little more creative and think of an image that reminds you of the word Angelica; this one is pretty easy, “angel”, Angelica. But think of a person with the same name when you meet somebody famous or not and this is how you will remember.
So when I am travelling abroad to countries where there are no Kevins and people don’t know a Kevin, I have to say, “Oh, think of Kevin Costner, think of Kevin Bacon, think of Kevin James, think of Kevin Hart, depending on their age, who might be the most relevant to them. So they have to think of that person and then they look at me, bam! The connection is made.
One fantastic way to not only memorize new people’s names but also to learn new words.
Now if you learned a new word you can’t connect it with a person’s name, but you can connect the sound of that word with other words that you know, or other images. There is more to that and I could go deeper into this idea of connecting images with words, but it’s a similar idea.
A quick example, in the Japanese language the word for octopus, the octopus in the ocean, is “taco”, “taco”. So, if you’re learning the word for octopus in Japanese and you know what tacos are, tacos like the Mexican food taco, you think of a taco in the ocean with tentacles or maybe an octopus eating a taco and that’s how you remember the new word. Simple example, however, you get the point.
Some action steps for you so you can apply this; next time you meet somebody and it’s important for you to remember this person’s name and you’re bad at remembering names, when you meet them, instantly think of another person important to you. It could be a friend, somebody you know or it could be a famous person, and visualize this other person, connect that image with the person that you are missing and watch how easily you remember their name.
Now if you don’t know somebody else with that name, if they have a crazy name, then think of an image or come up with something creative to connect that name to.
The other day I met somebody named Anar, Anar. I don’t know somebody else named Anar, so what did I visualize? Well, what do you think? I visualized the letter R with a little article before, “an” “An R”. “Hey look, it’s an R, it’s a big R.” And I didn’t forget Anar’s name.
Other action point here, don’t try to just memorize words by reviewing them and looking at them many many times. If you’re taking a test and you need to get a good grade on a test but you don’t need to use that information again, sure, fine cram for that test, but don’t expect to memorize that information.
If you want to memorize the information you have to use that information in a real situation, you need to recall those words, pull them from your brain and use them. That’s, how we are able to take new language and keep it in our brain forever.
That will do it for today’s episode, thank you so much for listening; I hope you learned something new. I imagined you did; if not, well at least you got to hear me talking for fifteen minutes and that’s fun, right?
Again if you want a transcript to this, go to feelgoodenglish.com and get a transcript there.
And until the next episode I hope you go out and memorize a few people’s names.
Ending with a memory joke;
So a doctors says to his patient,
“Hey, did you take those pills I gave you to improve your memory?”
And the patient says,
Have a wonderful day. See you next time.
READ TRANSCRIPT HERE
So here we are with the vocabulary lesson for this week’s episode on the book “Fluent Forever”.
Going to do this one a little differently we’re going to go over this with somebody who speaks English very, my wife. She’s Brazilian so you’ll hear a little bit of an English accent in there but, she was an English teacher for many many years. Believe me, she’s very capable.
First one, to try out for something to try out for a team like in a competition, or maybe you want to be a singer and there’s a competition where you have to prove your abilities you’re going to try out for that performance. I’m going to try out for the team.
More commonly, however, we use it to test our to use something experimentally, I’m going try something out. Paula when was the last time you tried something out?
Paula: I think it was last week.
Kevin: What was it?
Paula: I think it was a new supplement.
Kevin: oh yeah, tell me about it.
Paula: I had to try out new kind of BCAA which is a supplement, and I had to try out the new flavor.
Kevin: oh yeah, to see if it was good?
Paula: It was melon-punch.
Kevin: And how was it?
Paula: It was good.
Kevin: So melon-punch is a good flavor.
Next word here is “hack”, “to hack” or a “hack”. What does hack mean Paula?
Paula: I just know a bad word. What the heck is this?
Kevin: No that’s different, that’s what the heck? Heck, What the heck? And here we’re talking about a hack. Pronunciation is a little different, a hack. A hack is a shortcut or a way to do something more easily with less effort, you are trying to get the same results in a faster time using less effort, for example a language hack would be to, the ability to memorize words very quickly and to remember them forever like they talk about some off in this book. So it’s a hack, it’s a way to kind of cheat the system or to do something faster as opposed to the old traditional way. Does that make sense?
Paula: Yes it does.
Kevin: So give me an example of a hack? A lot of time we talk about “life hacks”, life hacks way to make your day to day easier. So you know any cool life hacks Paula?
Paula: So when I have hard boiled eggs I just put them in a cup with some water and I shake ’em to get the shell off.
Kevin: Oh really, so you put hard-boiled eggs, you mean the eggs that you cook in water, you put them in a cup and you shake the cup and what, the shell just magically falls off or what?
Paula: it comes off easily.
Kevin: oh very cool. So that’s a cool life hack, a hard-boiled egg hack. What about you listening to this out there? What’s a life hack you apply or that you know, do you know any life hacks? Language learning hacks maybe?
Another phrasal verb here, “check-out” has various meanings. You’ve probably heard check-out from a hotel, you’re going to check out of the room or if you’re at a store and you’re going to buy something, you gotta check out, I’m gonna check out at the counter the woman up front at the cash register is going to check me out. Also, it means to look at something or to examine something, like check someone out. So if you check someone out it means you look at them maybe your friend is like “hey, check out that hot babe on the beach”. Paula, you go to the gym a lot, do you ever check out guys?
Paula: Yes, sometimes I have to check them out.
Kevin: Oh yeah, why do you have to check them out?
Paula: To see the muscle quality.
Kevin: Oh good, well I guess you’re comparing, seeing with the kind of muscles you need to build. It’s okay, if my wife is at the gym checking out other muscle guys, it’s okay, it’s all part of her profession.
Check out, it’s very common, commonly, used phrasal verb here in the U.S., American English for sure. Say, hey check that out or hey I want you to check out that new song, check out that new movie, or maybe you create something and you say, hey man can you check this out, see if you like it?
Next word here is to cram or I’m cramming for a test. Paula what does cram mean?
Paula: I don’t know.
Kevin: Oh you don’t know? Well cram, to cram. the example I use his if you have a big test coming up and you haven’t been studying every day for months, you decide to study for many many hours the day before the test, that’s to cram, to cram for a test, and I’m talking about so if you cram for a test that information won’t be in your brain as long, you won’t be able to recall that information. It’ll just stay in your short-term memory and then you’ll forget it. But to cram is to stuff or pack information or things into a small space. So you’re cramming a lot of information into your brain, that would cramming, you could also cram a lot of things into a small item, so you’re going to stuff the item. Paula, you just went to Brazil a few weeks back, did you cram anything before you went to Brazil?
Paula: Yeah, I crammed tons of things in my suitcases.
Kevin: Oh you crammed tons of things into your suitcases, why? Why do Brazilians do that?
Paula: Because we are allowed to get 32 kilos in the suitcases, so I crammed everything I could, and sat on both suitcases to close ’em.
Kevin: So you crammed things into your suitcase, you crammed a bunch of clothes and presents and personal items into your suitcase and then you had to sit on the suitcase to be able to close it.
So the listener out there, to cram, look around you now, is there anything that’s crammed around you, maybe you have a drawer in a dresser or a piece of furniture that’s crammed with things.
Maybe you’re in your car, maybe your glove box, the glove box to your right, or your left, is crammed with items, so check it out, what’s crammed around you?
it could also be people, maybe you’re in an elevator and there’s a lot of people in an elevator, you’re crammed into the elevator that’s never fun right? It’s quiet, uncomfortable and everybody is crammed into a small space, so that happened to you recently?
Another phrasal verb here, “go over” to go over something. to go over, means to review something to look at it like you’re going to go over a document, or maybe you have a big test coming up using that same example you’re going to go over the test results after the test with a teacher, you’re going to go over them to see how you did and to talk about them, to review them. So pretty straightforward, you’re at work and they say let’s go over this report to make sure that there is no mistakes on this report, let’s go over it together.
Go over have some other meanings as well. To go over well mean to happen in a good way or to be satisfied with the results or not. You said “oh I had a talk with my boss the other day and it didn’t go over well, it wasn’t a good conversation, it didn’t go over well.” That would be a negative result.
Another way to use go over, and this is important to point out, not necessarily a phrasal verb sometimes we use prepositions after a verb just to talk about direction. So you could tell somebody “go over there and talk to her, you’re checking her out, you’re checking her on the beach, this hot babe is walking on the beach, and you say “hey check her out! Now go over there and talk to her, go say hello.” So you’re just saying over, meaning not where you are but over in another direction. Go over there and talk to her.
Last one here another phrasal verb get in the way of, to get in the way of means to obstruct, to prevent you from doing something, or from feeling something or from getting something. So Paula, let’s talk about things that gets in the way of our happiness. So sometimes we’re not feeling happy, we’re not feeling great we don’t always have to feel happy, but becoming more self-aware, we can also learn about things that get in the way of us being happy that day. For example, if I’m worried about things I can’t control, things in my day, things that I don’t have any control over, for example, the weather if the weather isn’t the way that I like it I would complain about it but I have no control over that. Or how much money is my bank account on the given day if it’s not as much as I would like to see it could make me unhappy, however, I can’t do anything about it at that very moment, I have to be more accepting of what’s going on and not let those little things get in the way of my happiness. Paula what about you any examples of things that get in the way of your happiness?
Paula: Yeah, like fear of failure for example, when I’m thinking about doing something and trying something out, and I just have that fear that makes me not happy
Kevin: Well that’s a good point so kind of worried about failing, and worrying is not being happy, so that’s an interesting point, we don’t feel happy when we’re worried about something, especially if we see that were going to fail if we’re new at something, speaking English, maybe we fear failing at it.
Last question here for you, the listener out there, think about it, what gets in in the way of you being happy most often? What’s the thing or what’s the worry or what’s the emotion that comes up, that appears in your day? Think about it. What are the most common worries fears, preoccupations that get in the way of you having a happy day?
Is there anything you could do about it? Is there something you can do to make that less obstructive so it doesn’t get in the way of your happiness as much?
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