Gordon Ramsey, Gary Vaynerchuk and Julian Northbrook play in the same league. They are passionate about their work and could be blunt like hell in their opinions.
Engage in coaching they are not interested in mediocre results. Therefore, they put the “overachiever’s hat” on their learner’s head.
No pain, no gain, is their motto.
Julian went even further calling his students Extraordinary English Speakers.
People differ so do their learning styles. Some may find the hardcore coaching style more effective than the others. Scientific research confirms that a bit of cortisol (stress hormone) stimulates the brain to more efficient work. Learners, who take on chest formative feedback and reflect on their work, have greater chances to progress faster and achieve better results.
If you like a bit of flavour in your learning and desperately want to improve your conversational English find Julian Northbrook’s Language School. He is the most controversial personality in online teaching I’ve met. His pungent commentary makes him more enemies than friends, but it conveys a clear and coherent message that could be summarised in these words:
If you want something bad enough, you’ll make it happen. However, if you don’t want something, even the best of strategies won’t serve you. ( B. Hardy)
But who is Julian and what he’s doing?
I came across Julian while looking for online English courses in 2013. At that time, he taught English in a Japanese school. I subscribed to his newsletter where he shared the story of his struggle with learning Japanese.
The story resonated with me so much that I wanted to know how he solved his problem.
Like Julian, I was a foreigner who experienced inconveniences and humiliation of living in a foreign country without knowing the local language. I mean, not knowing well enough to live a satisfactory life. Julian mentioned a podcast JapanesePod101 that boosted his fluency. It led me to EnglishClass101.com, provided by the same language school. This course re-shaped my learning English and I was grateful for the recommendation.
People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily. (Zig Ziglar)
I kept reading Julian’s newsletters loaded with motivational stories that encouraged me to start every day with new learning enthusiasm.
Simple Solutions Are the Best
In one of his newsletters, Julian asked the subscribers to do an experiment. It consisted of taking a dictation of a short story he read and leaving a comment on this experience. I dictated and learned an important lesson out of this exercise.
To become an intentional learner, we need to:
- Challenge ourselves
- Spot our mistakes and weak points
- Correct the mistakes and work on weaknesses.
Basic solutions are often better than sophisticated methods.
During dictation I realised how poor my listening skill was, not mentioning spelling. But I understood what tool could fix these problems. Dictation was the best way to kill two birds with one stone.
Another area for improvement was my speaking. In Julian’s YouTube video about shadowing, I found invaluable tips how to speed up speaking and improve pronunciation. I began to put into practice what I had learned from Julian whilst listening to recordings by EnglishClass.com.
Learning Language Through Immersion in Culture
A few months later, I discovered Julian’s British Stories, a series designed for English learners taking them in the world of the native users of the language.
What attracted me to British Stories was the flavour of the real Britain. A bit nostalgic Britain, and the Britain from the sticks. I understood that the lack of knowledge about culture caused my confusion in using English in real situations. British Stories gave me the taste of British culture and made me feel homely in the UK. It was an eye-opening experience.
Full immersion in the language is only possible through culture. People overly attached to their home customs and beliefs often have difficulty to assimilate foreign languages.
Looking at everyday life from the perspective of the native speakers helps to build a real connection with them.
In his book “Master English Fast” Julian explains in detail how knowing culture affects learning a foreign language. He advises, Put on your culture glasses!
Forget English Is Your Second Language
Stephen Krashen, a linguist who searched the second language acquisition, found out that students learn faster when they are relaxed and learn best about things that interest them.
This certainly worked for me. When I joined Doing English Plus, an online community moderated by Julian, and got engaged in discussions with other learners, my learning gained the momentum. Talking about favourite subjects forced me to expand my active vocabulary and to learn how to argue my point.
At the beginning, I was ashamed of my mistakes. That’s why I drafted my longer posts in a notebook and posted them after self-correction. With the time, I got more confident and took more pleasure in using English. Connecting with other learners in the community and chatting on Skype was my reward for completing learning activities I scheduled for a day.
After months of a regular posting in English, I realised that I was translating less in head from my home language.
I started thinking in English.
That shifted my learning on a higher level. I got the confidence to express myself in a foreign language similar to that I’ve got in my home language. It felt great!
Natural Chunks of Language
Small talks are often a nightmare to foreigners. They require familiarity with common phrases and a high automatization of speaking. The Extraordinary English Speakers programme is addressed to the intermediate and advanced learners who use English at work, business and in everyday life. The course is designed to boost their confidence and fluency.
Julian’s Weekly Lessons are based on dialogues showing everyday situations at work and at home. The dialogues are loaded with high-frequency chunks of language used in the natural context and followed by a detailed explanation of their usage.
Shadowing dialogues stimulates a learners’ imagination and their emotions helping them to put themselves in the shoes of native language users. It’s an example of context-based learning, the most effective method of assimilating a foreign language. That’s why initiating small talks after shadowing becomes easier and smoother. Learners using high-frequency chunks of language react faster and sound more natural than well-read ones who try to impress the listener with sophisticated vocabulary and complex grammar constructions. It’s all good in academic works but leaves the impression of robotic-like communication in real life. Learners who use common phrases flavoured by colloquialisms sound much more natural and cool.
Most people who declare they want to master English would never accomplish their goal. They would give up their dream in the half-way finding excuses why it’s not worth to pursue it.
If you want lasting change, you’ve got to give up this idea of ‘trying something.’ You’ve got to decide you’re going to commit-to-mastery. (Tony Robbins)
Low aspirations bring mediocre results. That’s why it’s better to set ourselves a higher bar. Mastering a skill would take time and effort but it’s worth pain and sweat. Master English Fast. An Uncommon Guide to Speaking Extraordinary English by Julian Northbrook explains the most effective way of learning English and any foreign language.