how my English changed in 2020

How my English changed in 2020

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It’s the end of the year and we usually reflect on it and try to see what worked and what didn’t.
Here’s what I managed to do with my English this year. It boils down to 3 aspects of English.

Pronunciation

This year was very good for my pronunciation in general because I finally started to work on it.
Before it, I would just passively watch videos without taking any action towards them.

But this year was different. I put all my knowledge that I had about English phonetics into practice.

I finally was able to make it consistent practice and I’m so shallow to say that I still stick to it.

Of course, there’s a lot of work to do but I was able to fix my mispronunciation of some key English sounds: a as in cat, a as in father, shwa, R, sheep-ship, pull-pool minimal pairs. I will write a separate post about my practice and results later.

For now, I’d like to share my main takeaway:

Practice makes better. Even if from the beginning you can’t even read properly some of the words and think that you won’t be able to pronounce them correctly. Take your time to practice.

 

Pronunciation drills work, and 10-30 minutes a day of practice is enough to feel the difference in 2 weeks.

I used Hadar Shemesh pronunciation drills from the Accent Makeover program but she also has a lot of free stuff you can use for your practice (I put the links in the description).

If you’re not sure why you should put any effort into English pronunciation read this post where I explain why it’s the key element of learning English that will give your confidence in speaking you might lack.

Intonation

It’s a different element of speech that can reveal that your foreign origin even if your pronunciation and vocabulary perfect.

Basically, it’s how we speak, the melody of our speech. Our mother tongue has a different intonation than English but when we speak English we use our natural intonation and that makes it so obvious that English is not our native language.

The good news is that we can change it by imitating native speakers. But of course, it’s more difficult than drill sounds.

We’ve been speaking with our native intonation all our life and it’s not that easy suddenly switch into a different mode especially if you can’t quite get the difference.

So this year I think I finally got to the point where I was able to distinguish that difference and see some of the patterns.

Awareness is the first step to further changes, when you can see and hear it you can repeat it.

 

Now the only way to change your intonation is practice. Specifically, practice with speeches. The best is to take excerpts of the speeches (TED talk, Youtube, etc) and mimic the speakers, their pronunciation, and intonation.

You can see how it looks like in this video:

 

As you can see it’s not always perfect but this is why we practicing. Practice makes better.

A chunk of 10 sentences is enough to work during a week. You can set aside 10-20 minutes a day for training. So by the end of a week, you’ll see results.

The more such small chunk you do the better your pronunciation and inoculation will be.

I’m also at the beginning of this practice and I hope to get much better in the next year.

If you’d like to know more about intonation and how to develop it check out Hadar’s podcast about it (I put the links at the end of the post).

Writing

I can’t tell you that I became much better at writing this year. But it became much easier for me to write in English.

And it happens because of routine: I write a post at least once a week for my website and also do some other writing for my pages on social media. You know when you need something you’ll find a way to do it.

So I need to create helpful posts for English learners and to connect with them on my social media. Therefore I need to write consistently. No more excuses.

Again here’s also practice makes better.

You don’t need to write huge texts in order to start writing in English. Start from the small one.

I started even from the comments in the InFluency community. Eventually, it developed into posts and then into my website.

The best part is that you can always edit and re-write your texts. Something you can’t do with your speech or intonation.

In case you’re not in InFluency Community, you can also watch the video about my journey in 2020.

 

That’s it. I hope that some of the examples and techniques I shared will be helpful for you.

Now it’s your turn to share what were your discoveries and achievements in English. Share in the comments what worked for you and what didn’t. I’d be happy to hear.

If you’d like to receive weekly vocabulary tips from me sign up here. And here’s the link to join my Speaking club. 

Useful links for getting results in your English learning: 

Free Drills for everyday from Hadar Shemesh 

How to practice Intonation with Hadar Shemesh

Free Workbook to plan your English development in 2021

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10 thoughts on “How my English changed in 2020

  1. My listening and writing skills have changed quite a bit. I’m also proud of my improvement in Reading and Speaking skills.

      1. Your practice with the prosody based on video has been perfect. Definitely I need to steal it from you you ?. Good luck with your improvements!

        1. Thank you, Tomasz, yes, please steal it from me! I’d love to have more such “thefts”.

  2. Hello Dear Vika, Hello Dear Reader,

    I’m really thrilled about the idea of sharing my experience into this wonderful blog for active learners!!!. I think that the 2020 is the year that has changed the way I learn English language forever.
    On December 31 2019, I started my learning journey in the InfluencyCommunity. Step by step, I’ve learnt the importance of making videos something that I’ve never experienced before. I started to make connections with other members, and later I understood the value of sharing insights, opinions and experiences about the learning process.
    In the meanwhile, I noticed how much that community has had a positive impact on them in many different ways. I saw members improving a lot their way of convey their messages, how their confidence and clarity has developed week by week.
    To be honest, AccentMakeover and now Beyond have had a crucial role in challenging myself and then, changing my mindset and daily habits and learning practices day by day,
    The most relevant changes are:

    1) making activities a bit every day
    2) learning a lot from managing a session on Zoom because explaining what you know to someone else is a great experience
    3) being able to catch your own mistakes after making a record and then, having a clear idea on which sounds you need to work on
    4) learning the importance of teaming up with other members and practicing grammar or vocabulary or whatever else all together
    5) practicing daily sprint from Beyond course and according to that materials, preparing my own BootCamp of a few sounds in which I’d like to dig deep.

    Those are few of the new relevant steps which I’ve learnt so far that has been working really well, and has been helping me to make significant progress.
    My advice is try to be consistent and at the same time, at the end of every week check out what you’ve done and keep in mind why you’re doing all of that, and at last you have to be really organized if you want to succeed.
    Thanks with all my heart Vika for giving me this opportunity.
    I hope that those words could be helpful for other active learners like myself.

    I wish you all,
    A New Year full of joy and health!!!.
    Alessandro.

    1. Oh, Alessandro, thank you so much for your insightful and useful comment. It’s almost a post. I won’t be surprised if one day you also decide to write in English as a blogger/journalist or maybe even will create you own blog. Whatever you decide I will support you)

  3. Hi! I just have discovered this usefull and very interesting place!! Last year was amazing for my English because I started to feel more confidence and shared with other learners around the world. This New year I hope improve a Lot through practice and consistence. Happy New Year for you and for all your readers!!

    1. Hey Eddy, thank you! Happy New Year to you too! It’s so cool to have confidence because when you have it you are not afraid to make mistakes because you know that it’s the only way to learn))

  4. Hello Vika, do you thing it is worth it to purchase the New Sound (Hadar Shemesh) trainning? Congrats for you blog.
    Rgds,
    JP

    1. Hey, JP, Thank you! If your goal to transform your spoken English and fluency, New Sound is a great fit.

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