Tag: conversation

English Lesson: By the way

Don’t confuse “by the way” with “anyway”.

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The Trick to Remembering Names

The Trick to Remembering Names

Did you know it’s possible to lose a fight even before you step into the ring? If a fighter spends all his energy thinking about what can’t be done, his chances of winning are next to none.

I know you’re not reading this blog for fight advice, but this thought process ties directly into communication. You have to be aware of what you’re telling yourself before you communicate with others.

One of the most common examples of self-defeating talk is when you’re meeting someone new. What’s the first step to having the introduction? Getting the person’s name. Trying to remember someone’s name really stresses people out.

The dialogue that runs through their head sounds like this:

  • How the hell am I going to remember this name?
  • How awkward is it going to be to have to ask for the name again?
  • Why am I so bad with names?

And the list goes on and on…

Is that what your inner dialogue sounds like? If so, you need to cut that out. Not only is that unhelpful, it makes your memory worse. The extra stress these thoughts bring can make you even more forgetful.

So what to do instead? Say the person’s name. A lot.

Whenever I meet someone new, I try to use their name as much as I can in the first five minutes:

“Hey [name], did I get that right, [name]? Really good to see you, [name]. What made you want to come to this event, [name]?”

That’s a bit excessive, right? Of course, I don’t always say the name out loud. It’s probably closer to a 3:1 external to internal mention. But if you really want to get a person’s name down, you have to spend a little bit of time fixated on it.

How can a champion win the gold if he can’t see the gold? Likewise, how can you expect yourself to remember the name when all you’re doing is thinking about how you’re going to forget it?

This is the easiest way to commit a name to memory. All that other stuff about mnemonics and word associations? That’s a lot of work!

Explain to Me: American Football

Explain to Me: American Football

For anyone feeling lost with the build up towards the Superbowl, let’s take a moment to break down the basics of American Football.

Not unlike basketball or soccer, the aim is to take the ball to the other side and repeat this process in order to score as many points as possible. Depending on the team’s strengths, they’ll try to A) run the ball or B) pass the ball. Once they make to the end of the field (known as the end zone), that score is called a touchdown! Hurray 6 points!

After scoring a touchdown, the team can try to run one more play (the options are to run or pass again), but they’ll most likely kick the ball. A successful kick between the goal posts gives 1 point. Trying to do another play is the riskier move– because although it can give 2 points, an unsuccessful play will give you nothing. Most teams would rather have the hard work of their touchdown give them a total of 7 points instead of 6.

Jeremy_Shelley_kicking_for_Alabama

Now that you understand the mechanics of scoring, the other aspect you should learn about are “downs“. You should think of “downs” like chances. When a team has possession of the ball, they’re on the offensive. They’ll have four chances to get the ball to the other side of the field for a touchdown.

Even for the best teams out there, it’s very difficult to make it down the field in four chances. So the plan of attack for offense is to keep pushing forward far enough along the field in order to reach the “first down” mark.

Football First Down Line

If they can pass that line, they’ll reset their chances back to one. However, if they fail to reach that mark in their 4 chances, they’ll have to give the ball to the other team. When it gets to the fourth down, things can get really intense! If the team doesn’t feel confident enough about reaching a first down, they’ll probably kick the ball. This is so that when they give the ball to the other team, that team has to start further down the field. Also, if the offense is close enough to the end zone and decide to kick, they have the opportunity to kick a field goal, which will give them 3 points.

Field Goal

Of course, there’s a lot more strategy that we could delve into, but focus on understanding these basics first. Your enjoyment of watching the game will definitely increase!

English Lesson: What Am I? +

English Lesson: What Am I? +

If you want to improve your English fluency and overall speaking capabilities, you need to learn how to continue a conversation. Avoiding small talk and dead-end questions is one method. Another point you should keep in mind is to avoid the phrase “I don’t know“.

You don’t need to worry about putting pressure on yourself to know everything at all times. Instead, just make sure you don’t kill the conversation abruptly by not knowing.

One way to accomplish this is by incorporating a sense of humor.

Let’s imagine you’re chatting with a friend, and he says, “I don’t feel so good. What do you think I should do?”

You could say, “I don’t know.” And that’s that. Or, you could more playfully say, “What am I? A doctor?”

This combination of “What am I?” + [appropriate noun] demonstrates

  1. you’re comfortable speaking in English
  2. you’re sharp and quick
  3. you’ve got some sass to you

Sass is strength! I recommend any passive speaker to up their dosage.

How can you tell if what’s an appropriate noun? Let’s take a look at another example. A girl asks you, “Do you know the time?” You can retort, “What am I? A clock?”

Depending on your tone and delivery, you might sound like an asshole or could very well come across as flirty and playful. Remember, don’t put too much stake in word choice. The emotional output and tone will always trump any kind of vocabulary. Use that to your advantage.

Let’s try one more example. Imagine that you’ve stayed over at a friend’s house. It’s in the morning and you’re hungry. Your friend pours some cereal and milk. He then asks you, “Hey, do you want some milk too?”

In this case, you probably do. But instead of saying “sure” or “yes, please”, you could say, “What am I? A cat?” And then, take the carton of milk anyway.


If you’re interested in learning more conversational English like this, connect with Jon to sign up for private English coaching. We’ll work on making you sound like a native speaker.