• Are You a Great Listener?

    Did you know that an average person only uses 1/4 of their listening capacity?

    What do we do then with the ¾ of our capacity, you’re asking?

    Well, instead of listening, we tend to:

    • Think about what we are going to say next
    • Create our own opinion on what the speaker is saying
    • Think about something totally different

    What are the benefits of active listening?

    First of all, active listening builds trust and respect. It helps you build relationships with people because you demonstrate empathy and interest.

    What’s more, your conversations will be more engaging and you will come across as an interesting person. Yes, that’s right. This is a little psychological trick. When you show interest in others, they will think YOU are the interesting one.

    Finally, active listening helps you really understand others. Oftentimes, we assume that we understand what the other person is saying but because we haven’t been paying enough attention to their words, we don’t.

    So, how can we become better listeners?

    1) Adjust your body language.

    Nod your head, lean forward, maintain eye contact, and smile.

    2) Use words to show attention and agreement.

    Really?…That’s interesting…You don’t say…Wow…Right…Sure.

    3) Repeat what they’ve said in a different way.

    So what I’ve heard is______.
    I’m hearing that_______. Is that right?
    Am I hearing that_______?

    4) Ask follow-up questions. If your partner says they went to the hospital, ask them if they are okay. If they say they watched a movie, ask them what movie they watched.

    5) If you cannot come up with any follow-up questions, use the parroting technique. Pick a word that caught your attention and repeat it back to your partner.

    I went to Malaysia 3 years ago. Malaysia?

    Do you consider yourself to be a good listener? What techniques do you use to demonstrate your active listening?

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  • Why Is It So Hard to Learn New Things?

    When we learn something new, we have to put a lot of effort into it and our brain uses a lot of glucose which is the main source of energy. Julie Dirksen in her book Design for how people learn compares learning new information to biking uphill.

    On the other hand, when we do something we already know, our brain doesn’t have to use so much energy. This is like the equivalent of coasting downhill.

    How many times have you wanted to learn a new skill? Edit photos in Photoshop, paint a landscape, play tennis, improve your English skills,…?

    I bet you were super motivated at the beginning but after some time, when it got more and more challenging, you became frustrated, and gave up, thinking you are not talented enough and can never be good at it.

    The thing is, being good at something has little to do with talent. It’s about hard work and persistence. You have to resist the urge to quit and hang in there a little longer. With practice, it will eventually become easier.

    Yes, this is the key element: PRACTICE. Without practice, you will stay where you are right now. Learning a new piece of information without putting it into practice is useless. You have to apply it ASAP.

    You will make mistakes and feel out of place at first, but soon enough, your confidence will grow and you will become highly resilient.

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  • What to Do When You Hit a Plateau in Your English Learning

    ‘Hit a plateau’ means to stop growing or improving at something and feeling like there is no more progress coming. It’s very frustrating because you’ve been putting a lot of effort into learning and developing your English and your improvement was fast and noticeable, and then there is no change whatsoever.

    You hit a plateau.

    The main reason you’ve hit a plateau is your routine. Sticking to the same habits often results in failing to progress, despite investing a lot of time.

    Dr. K. Anders Ericsson, a Swedish psychologist and Professor at Florida State University says that what separates experts from the rest of us is that they tend to engage in a very directed, highly focused routine, something called ‘deliberate practice.’ Top achievers in various fields keep consciously developing by doing three things:

    1) Focusing on their technique

    2) Staying goal-oriented

    3) Getting constant and immediate feedback on their performance

    For most of us, however, we tend to feel like we stop making progress once we reach the intermediate level. Why is that?

    When you start learning English, you will increase your fluency very fast. This is because relatively few words keep showing up all the time so learning these words provides a huge ‘return on investment.’

    It’s just like the Pareto principle, that 20% of things create 80% of the results – 20% of English words are used in 80% of English conversation. The 100 most common words in English make up almost 50% of words in conversation. Crazy, right?

    Also, because you started from a ‘blank slate’ (you had no knowledge of the foreign language before starting to learn it), you can clearly see and feel the progress you are making since it’s easy to compare your current level of fluency to what it was just a few weeks ago.

    By changing the way you see how your English learning curve really works, you will understand that in most cases, what you have reached is not a plateau, but simply an intermediate phase where it will take more and more time to get similar gains in fluency to what you got before.

    So, what to do if you reach a plateau?

    Luca Lampariello, a language learner who speaks 12 languages says that if you feel like you haven’t made much progress recently, consider looking into changing the material you’re using. If you’ve been using the same textbook or the same method for learning a foreign language and it just doesn’t seem to work anymore, think about adding some variety to your study tools or even completely changing your learning strategy.

    I suggest you challenge yourself. Transformation is painful. Doing easy stuff will not get you results. If you want transformation you got to do more of the hard stuff, the stuff that you avoid, that you don’t want to do, that requires a lot of brainpower and a lot of focus.

    I know, there are a lot of distractions out there but listen – you can practice the easy stuff for an hour, or you can practice the hard stuff for 10 minutes, and you’ll get more results in those 10 minutes than an hour of easy practice. Because an easy practice just keeps you in the same place.

    You don’t need to be smart or talented to achieve anything you want.

    If you would like to have someone by your side to help you stick to a challenging routine, stay goal-oriented, and give you constant feedback on your progress, consider working with a language coach.

    So, what are your thoughts? I would love to hear how you dealt with the feeling that you didn’t improve anymore, and how you kept yourself motivated and did not give up on your goals. Do you change the study material as you progress from a beginner to an intermediate and advanced stage?

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  • How to Express Your Ideas in English

    Have you ever been in a situation where you had a great idea, but you just couldn’t find the right words to say? Instead, you started talking gibberish, ended up embarrassing yourself, and failed to deliver the point you wanted.

    Later, after the conversation had ended, you knew exactly what to say. Hmm, too late. If this sounds familiar to you, continue reading to find out how to express yourself clearly and concisely.

    Why Is This Happening?

    Every single sentence starts as an idea. Ideas, or things that we want to say, come randomly. They come in the form of words, images, flashes of memories, scents, music, and so on. They don’t come in order and they don’t have any structure.

    When we talk, we translate this idea into a point that we want to deliver in the form of sentences. For the point to be easily understood by others, we need to put the idea into a structured sentence, which is what most of us usually fail to do. It’s just like putting puzzle pieces together.

    So how can we learn to make a great meaningful sentence quickly in our head before we open our mouth to speak?

    Read Anything You Can

    Books, essays, articles, leaflets, magazines, comic books, posts, tweets. Anything. The purpose is to expand your vocabulary and learn how others make their sentences. By observing how other people express their thoughts, you’ll learn new ways of doing so.

    My tip: Follow English speakers on social media and read their posts. You will learn new expressions they use, including slang, idioms, or phrasal verbs.

    Learn Different Kinds of Expressions and Synonyms

    Let’s have a look at some examples: Instead of ‘Thank you.’ you can say ‘I appreciate it.’ or ‘I can’t thank you enough.’ Instead of ‘It’s raining.’ you can say ‘It’s pouring.’ or ‘It’s raining cats and dogs.’ Instead of ‘I’m very hungry.’ try saying ‘I’m starving.’, and the list goes on.

    Expressing something in a lot of different ways will help you engage your audience. Instead of saying the same expressions again and again, you can change the sentence structure and make it less monotonous. This way, your audience will not lose interest in you. Moreover, the more expressions you know the more probable some of them will pop up in your mind when you need them.

    My tip: Use WordHippo ( to find synonyms, antonyms, and words in context.

    Start Using Your New Sentence Structures and Vocabulary

    You’ve seen how other people do it. Now, it’s time for you to do it yourself. Before speaking try writing. Writing is a great way to train your mind to think clearly and concisely. By writing something, you will learn to:

    Put your ideas into well-structured sentences.

    Make a point without going in circles.

    Implement new vocabulary and expressions.

    Assemble your ideas to make a compact text.

    Don’t get overwhelmed. You don’t need to start writing books and essays. Keep it short. Write a post, a tweet, or just a two-sentence observation. The purpose is to improve your thinking process.

    Don’t Try to Sound Too Smart

    In my experience, a lot of English learners think that by using complicated sentences and formal vocabulary they will sound like native speakers. In fact, it’s the other way around. When your conversation partner does not understand what you are talking about, you lost the point of having a conversation. Use simple words and short sentences that people would understand. Believe me, sometimes it’s much more complicated to explain a complex issue in a simple way.

    What has helped you express your ideas clearly? Share it with me in the comments.

    Do you want to hear more tips and tricks? Book your free session with me today.

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  • 5 Steps to Learn the English You Will Use the Most

    When thinking about where you should start your English learning journey, think carefully about the most common words and phrases YOU will use. This is super efficient, and it’s also why following English coursebooks is generally a terrible idea. Why?

    English language books are targeted at everyone and no one.

    What should I do then, you’re asking?

    1. Picture the situations you will get into

    Let’s start with picturing the situations you will get into as a recruiter or even in your free time. Getting to know someone, meeting people in a hotel, speaking to clients, attending Zoom meetings. You will be arguing, agreeing, giving your opinions, and talking passionately about things.

    2. Think of the vocabulary and phrases you will need in these situations

    What topics do you normally talk about with your friends? What hobbies, sports or activities do you normally do? How do you make small talk with clients?

    Write down a long introduction about yourself (in your native language). Pretend you are introducing yourself to someone who is just meeting you, and you’re saying all you can about what you love and hate, what you like to do in your spare time, find interesting, talk about, joke about. Write it all down.

    3. Learn how to express yourself in the most natural way for your personality

    To feel really natural when you speak English, it’s important to think about the phrases and expressions you normally say in your own native tongue. What do you like to say to express liking, or disappointment, great happiness, or curiosity. Start to listen to yourself and notice these expressions. Ask your friends, they will have some fun telling you!

    4. Translate it into English

    Finally, translate your writing into English. Ask a native speaker or an English coach how they might say these expressions if you are not sure. Start to memorize them and use them with enthusiasm. Have fun with it.

    5. Learn it by heart

    Now that you have your own personalized version of English, it’s time to learn it by heart. Why? Because when you memorize something, you feel sure about it, and feeling sure means feeling confident.

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