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CHAPTER 1: A Better Way to Learn English

If you've picked up this book, chances are you've wanted to speak English for a while. Maybe you've even taken classes. You probably need English to improve your career. Maybe you want to travel internationally or study abroad. You know that English is the key to international business and international travel. So let me ask you something. 

Do you feel nervous or shy when you try to speak English? Do you still struggle to understand what someone is saying to you despite years of study? Are you embarrassed about your pronunciation or worried you speak too slowly? Are you frustrated that despite all the time you've invested in learning English you still can't speak it? Despite your goals, is it difficult for you to actually use English in your job, travels, or studies? Do you sometimes feel that you'll never master spoken English? 

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you're not alone. In fact, you're fairly typical. Most English students feel this way. Most adult English learners are stressed and frustrated about their speaking ability. Some feel completely hopeless and feel they'll never be able to speak English powerfully. Not because they're bad at languages, but because, like you, they've been taught using the wrong methods. 

The good thing is that it doesn't have to be like this. There is nothing wrong with you. You can learn to speak English naturally and with ease. You can use English effectively in your job, travels, and studies. You can feel relaxed and confident every time you speak English. In fact, as a long-time English teacher, I've helped thousands of students all over the world become fluent and powerful English speakers. 

How did I do it? I did it using a teaching method I developed called Effortless English™. Effortless English™ enables you to learn English naturally and automatically – the way children learn before they enter school. Too often, English classes get so focused on tests, textbooks, grades and “levels,” students forget why they're there in the first place. They forget about the real world goals of a more successful career and exciting international travel. With Effortless English™ you never lose sight of the fact that the ultimate goal of learning a language is communication. Instead, you learn to speak English both quickly and with more precision. 


I understand if you're skeptical – particularly if you've been trying to learn English the traditional way. You've put in the hours: memorizing vocabulary lists, doing grammar drills, reading boring textbooks. “How?” you're thinking, “can speaking English possibly be effortless?” 

Believe me, I feel your pain. 

Back when I started teaching 15 years ago, my students were all excited to begin conversing in English. And I was excited to help them. At that time, I taught in the usual way. I used textbooks and I focused on teaching grammar. I thought this was the best way to teach, and none of my students complained. 

I still remember one particularly intelligent student of mine from Venezuela named Gladys. Gladys was determined to speak English well. Talk about effort! Gladys attended every one of my classes. She always sat in the center of the front row. I can still picture her eager and smiling face. She took detailed notes. She listened to every word I said. She also studied at home. Every day Gladys studied her English textbooks for four hours or more. She also tried to learn 50 new vocabulary words by memorizing word lists. Gladys was my star student and I, too, was sure she would succeed. 

Six months later, however, she still could barely speak English. Her speech was hesitant and unnatural. She constantly made grammar mistakes with even the simplest sentences. Her pronunciation was difficult to understand. She still thought in Spanish and tried to translate to and from English when she spoke. Worst of all, Gladys felt nervous every time she tried to speak English. Speaking English was a painful experience for her. 

Gladys was extremely frustrated. After so much effort, she had barely improved. As her teacher, I too was frustrated. I was sure Gladys would improve quickly and couldn't understand why she had not. I followed all of the traditional teaching methods. I used the standard textbooks and the standard classroom activities. Gladys was intelligent, disciplined and consistent, and yet her English speaking barely improved. 

Sadly, I realized that Gladys wasn't the only one who had not improved. Her classmates also had barely improved. It was frustrating, and I felt like a complete failure as a teacher. But when I asked my colleagues for help, it turned out they had the same problem – very few of their students were improving either! At that point, I realized something was wrong – something is wrong with standard methods for teaching English. The worst part for me was that everyone accepted this situation as “normal.” The other teachers didn't seem to be concerned about their students' lack of progress. All the teachers were using the same methods and getting the same poor results. 

In most parts of the world, students study English in school for years. Yet, the vast majority of them never learn to speak English well. After years of study, they still have trouble with real English conversations. They still feel nervous and shy about speaking. 

A few years after my experience with Gladys, I got a job as an English teaching assistant in Japan. I was excited and eager to help these young students learn my language. I still remember my first day. I was sitting at the front of the class next to the main teacher, who was Japanese. As the students came into the room, they saw me and giggled nervously. They sat down and continued to shyly glance up at me. They were sweet and curious. 

Then the class started. The main teacher wrote an English sentence on the board. I don't remember the exact sentence, but it was something like, “The little girl goes to school.” The teacher pointed to the sentence and began to talk in Japanese. The students all grabbed their notebooks and began writing. Everyone was very serious.

Next, the teacher circled the word “goes.” She pointed at the word and continued speaking in Japanese. She talked and talked and talked, in Japanese. The students wrote quickly, filling their notebooks with information. Finally, the teacher drew a line from the word “goes” to the word “girl.” And then she talked more, on and on and on, in Japanese. 

This continued for the entire class. The teacher drew lines, circles, and squares. She used different colored chalk. And she continued speaking Japanese. 

I was totally confused. I am a native speaker of English, and I was sitting in a beginning English class. Yet I could not understand anything in the class (except for that one sentence). I was thinking to myself, “What could this teacher possibly be talking about so much? It's just one sentence.” Yet the teacher spent an entire hour analyzing, explaining, and dissecting that one simple sentence. Finally, at the end of the class, the teacher asked me to read the sentence aloud “for pronunciation.” I read the sentence a couple of times, and that was the only real English input the students got that day. 

Sadly, this same pattern repeated every day. Day by day, I watched the students' enthusiasm and curiosity disappear. They became bored. They became stressed and confused. Every day they wrote pages of notes, mostly in Japanese. Every day the teacher talked and talked and talked, mostly in Japanese. I couldn't understand why an English class was being taught mostly in Japanese. During the average class, the students were listening to Japanese 90% of the time or more. They heard very little English. No wonder they never learned to speak! No wonder they were frustrated and confused. Honestly, it broke my heart to watch as the school crushed these students' natural love of learning. It was terrible to watch them grow bored, frustrated, and stressed. 

And six months later, none of the students could speak to me at all, not even the simplest conversation. This kind of situation is repeated in English classes all over the world. 

My experiences with Gladys and in Japan convinced me that traditional English language education is broken. I knew there had to be a better way to help my students speak English than what we were doing. So I began the search for a better way. I devoured books about English teaching. I constantly tried out new methods in my classes. I read research studies. I traveled and taught English in other parts of the world. 

What surprised me was how little the actual research supported traditional teaching methods. As eminent University of Southern California linguist Stephen Krashen noted: “We acquire language when we understand what people tell us and what we read….there is no need for deliberate memorization.” If most of us knew, intuitively, that the best way to learn English was naturally, I wondered, why were so many teachers and students still choosing to use unnatural, ineffective and old methods of teaching? 

Eventually, I went back to school and got a master's degree in (TESOL) Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. Along the way, I did more research and discovered the incredible new methods that would become the basis for the Effortless English™ program. 

I also did my own informal research. I searched for excellent English speakers who had learned the language as an adult. Whenever I found such a person, I interviewed them. Over time, I noticed patterns. Most of these successful speakers were independent students who mastered spoken English outside of school. Most of them used similar methods, the very same methods supported by my master's research. Most avoided the traditional methods used in most schools. 

I changed my teaching, and when I used these new strategies in classes, my students improved quickly. I couldn't believe it! They learned to speak easily and powerfully. And even better – they were enjoying themselves! After years of searching and experimentation, I had finally found methods that worked. 

Effortless English Today 

Over the years, I've continued to test and adapt these methods and developed the Effortless English™ system. I've organized the program to include seven essential rules for learning English, which have led countless students to fluency. To build on the success of my classes, I created audio courses and began offering them online to English students around the world. My audio lessons are currently bestsellers in 25 countries. 

In addition, I founded the Effortless English Club™ to create an international English learning community where students can communicate with other members. I wanted to create an environment that encouraged confidence and success with English, because so many learners struggle with nervousness, shyness, frustration and fear when speaking. In fact, for many people these negative emotions are the worst part of speaking English. 

In our Effortless English Club™ students are able to interact on our forums and speak with each other online. It is an extremely positive and encouraging community, where everyone is free to “play with English,” make mistakes, and communicate without fear. In my opinion, we have the best members in the world. Every one of our members is focused not only on their own success, but also on helping other members achieve success too. The result is a supportive “family” of learners and international leaders. 

This book is another resource for students looking to speak English powerfully and fluently. It is designed to guide you on the road to fluency, to speed your journey to confident, powerful, effortless speaking. In this book, you will learn how to re-program your negative emotions about English, develop confidence when speaking, and follow a powerful and effective road to fluency. You'll also learn how to use English to improve your career and achieve the success you want. 

Over the next several chapters, I will describe the Effortless English™ system in detail, explain the philosophy behind it, and tell you why both psychology and method are important for language learning. I'll also tell you exactly how to use the system to reach your goals. 

Join me and enjoy the journey. You really have nothing to fear by leaving the old education system behind. So let go of the pressure, the stress, the fear and the boredom. I promise you this natural learning system is fun, friendly, and energetic – the opposite of most school classrooms. There is no pressure – just friendly encouragement and support. 

Trust me. I have helped students everywhere in the world… and now I am eager to help you. I promise I will always do my best to help you speak excellent English. 


So what is Effortless English™? By "effortless" I certainly don't mean lazy English. On the contrary, "effortless English" is going to be the result of the work you put in every day. By following my system, you will make progress and achieve the result of speaking naturally and "effortlessly" (unforced, without stress, hesitation or nervousness). 

In other words, "effortless" is the result, not the beginning. Your goal is to speak English effortlessly. You want the words to flow out without thinking, without translating, without worry or hesitation. You want to speak English just as you speak your own native language. Effortless speaking is the final result, and sometimes it takes a lot of effort to become effortless! 

It is possible, however, to thoroughly enjoy that effort. The example I like to use is that of an athlete or artist "in the zone." "In the zone" means performing excellently and effortlessly. When an athlete is "in the zone" at one level, they are working very hard – expending a lot of energy, pushing, totally focused. However, when they are enjoying themselves and completely focused, the activity FEELS effortless to them. There is no feeling of forcing, straining, etc. 

In fact, the name Effortless English™ was inspired by the Taoist idea of "wu wei" or effortless effort. It's a description of that flow state where you can be expending a lot of effort and yet it feels totally effortless and natural, not forced. 

So the point is that Effortless English™ is not about laziness, quick fixes, or impossible scams... but rather about finding that state of "effortless effort" or "wu wei." Effortless English means you speak English fluently. You don't struggle as you speak. You don't feel nervous or stressed. You don't think about grammar rules or translations. 

When you speak English effortlessly, you communicate your ideas clearly. You express your feelings powerfully. You focus on connecting with other people, not on conjugating verbs. You thoroughly enjoy the process of speaking English as you work, travel and learn.


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