Welcome to the InFluency Podcast. I’m Hadar, and this is episode number 184. And today we’re going to talk about the 10 things that are going to skyrocket your English fluency in the next 12 months.

Hey everyone. Thank you so much for joining me today. So, I’m recording this at the end of 2021. And we’re just before the beginning of 2022. And usually around that time, that’s the time where I love to plan, do some planning for the next year, and to set some goals. And if you are listening to this podcast, I bet that one of your goals is to gain that ultimate freedom in English.

And whether that’s going to happen in the next year or will just get you closer to there, there are definitely a few things that you might need to change or add to get there. Because sometimes we keep doing the same things over and over again, then it doesn’t take us to a significantly different place, it just helps us improve a little bit. But sometimes we need to do really different things to see different results or faster results.

So in this episode, I decided to share with you the 10 things that I really think you should think about and do something about in the next 12 months, whether you’re listening to this, you know, at the beginning of 2022 or at any other time. You can think about what you want to see in the next 12 months. And really make an effort into putting those things into practice.

Because I guarantee: if you do, there is going to be a significant breakthrough happening for you. I’m telling you! And we’re all about breakthroughs. So, these are the things that I actually often talk about, but this is the first time that I’m kind of like grouping all of them together as a bulletproof formula for making a change in English.

Now, if you can, I actually recommend for you to watch the video version of this episode. Because it’s going to be a little funnier and more interesting than just listening to it, a lot of fun visuals. But if not, then the audio is perfectly fine as well. I also included a PDF with a summary of all those 10 things and additional links for you to go further in your work and practice.

So I don’t leave you stranded, trying to figure out, “Okay, so how do I put it into practice?” No. You can now go a little deeper into each one of the things that I discuss and explore it more with the content that I collected for you. Okay? So, it’s absolutely free. And I added the link to this freebie in the show notes.

So, I hope you are excited about the new year. And if not, then I hope that excitement will come, and joy, and peace of mind. Despite of all the things that are happening now. And, you know, we’re still in a global pandemic that does not want to leave our lives. So I hope you’re well and safe and healthy. And that the next few minutes are going to remind you of all the things that you can do for yourself and for your English, despite of whatever is happening out there in the world, outside of us.

So, thank you so much for being here. I wish you all the best. And I hope you enjoy this episode.

Hey everyone, it’s Hadar. Thank you so much for joining me. Today we are going to talk about the 10 things that are going to skyrocket your English fluency over the next 12 months. As I’m recording this video, this is the end of 2021. And if you want to make your English goals come true in 2022, follow the 10 tips that I’m going to share with you in this video. But even if it’s not the end of the year, it doesn’t matter because this is something that you can start implementing right away to feel the transformation in your English as soon as you start.

So, if you speak English as a second language, and do you want the speak English with clarity, confidence, and freedom, this video is a must-watch for you. If you’re new to my channel, then hi, my name is Hadar. I’m a non-native speaker of English. And I am here to help you step into your full potential in English. If you want to find out more about how I can help you, I’m inviting you to go to my website hadarshemesh.com, or come and say hi on Instagram at @hadar.accentsway, where I share a ton of valuable content almost every single day.

Okay. So, let’s begin with 10 things that are going to help you skyrocket your English fluency in 2022 and beyond. The first is focusing on developing the right mindset. When we think about most of the language training programs that we’ve been a part of, whether it’s school or language institutions or private teachers, the focus is on the language. And of course, that is important.

But our mindset, the way we approach learning the language, the way we approach dealing with mistakes, how we feel about who we are as speakers of English as a second language – all of that has a huge impact on your ability to communicate confidently and fluently in English. And if you don’t work on developing your mindset, and the right mindset – a growth mindset, when it comes to communicating in English, then the problem is that you are going to improve your language, but you won’t improve who you are as a person communicating in that language.

You won’t be creating new opportunities for yourself. You won’t be dealing with obstacles as you could. And this is what’s going to make the real transformation in your English. I have a lot of videos about shifting your mindset in English, and I’m going to list all of them below. Actually, I have created a resource for you with all my useful videos that are going to help you understand how to implement those 10 steps. And you can download it for free by clicking the link in the description.

The second thing is: prepare well for everything. I know it’s a given, I know it sounds obvious, but here’s the thing. A lot of times we only prepare for the big things when the stakes are really, really high: a job interview, or an important meeting, or a presentation. But what happens is that we come unprepared for other situations, whether it’s a small conversation or a meeting at work.

And what happens in those daily situations where we communicate in English coming unprepared, is that we create our English persona. What do I mean by English persona? It means how you feel and think about how you communicate in English. Now, if you don’t prepare for the small situations, the small conversations, then you will come across a lot of obstacles. And those obstacles are going to make you believe that English is hard for you, and you’re not good in English.

And it’s a false conception because you just haven’t prepared well enough for these situations. Not only that, that when you prepare, this is where magic happens. When you prepare for a meeting, when you know what you’re going to say, when you practice saying it out loud, even if it’s as simple as a meeting with a teacher or a meeting at work – then you will be able to discover other things that usually don’t happen, like using new words or using new grammar structures, or actually listening to the person in front of you.

These are the things that happen when you feel confident, when you feel prepared, when you say what you want to say. But if you’re struggling to figure out how to say what you want to say, then there is no room for magic. And when there is no room for magic, you would ultimately start believing that your English is really limited.

So prepare well for everything, not just the big things. And when you do, do it effectively, say it out loud, not just in your head. English is a language that is spoken. It’s not a language that you just think, right? So, say it out loud. Use your body, use imageries, use notes, but do things that will help English stick and stay with you. And then that you’ll be able to use it later on in a conversation. There is no such thing as over-preparing. And it’s not about the meeting, it’s about you and your English practice. So prepare, prepare, prepare.

Number three: don’t get stuck in the illusion of learning. I often talk about the illusion of learning – feeling like you’re doing a lot of things in English, and you are practicing English, and you’re putting in a lot of work, but you’re not seeing results. You feel like you’re stuck in a plateau and you don’t know how to reach a breakthrough.

This usually happens because of the illusion of learning. Either you’re doing things that are not beneficial or that you won’t be able to put into practice when you actually communicate in English. Or you’re learning too many things and you’re not putting them into practice. So it remains here, but it doesn’t move here. And therefore, you’re unable to know if these things are actually practical for you.

Or what you might be doing is that you might be learning a lot of things, creating overwhelm, anxiety around: “Oh, there are all these things in English that I need to learn”. And also, keeping it up here and not moving it here. We can learn a lot of things, but we have to put it into practice to know that we can actually use it so that it’s available. And most of the work that we’re doing is around learning and consuming content, and very little work around producing the language and putting everything into practice.

So, the amount of practice and implementation should equal to the amount of learning. Otherwise you will be stuck in the illusion of learning. And again, I have a video about that with very clear tips on how to know if you’re stuck in the illusion of learning. And all of that can be found in the PDF that we collected for you with a summary of the 10 things and links to help you get started right away.

The next thing is essentialism or the 80/20 rule. The 80/20 rule suggests that 80% of the results come from 20% of the effort. It’s also called the Pareto principle because it was created by this dude called Pareto. When it comes to English, it means that to reach your goals, let’s say to be fluent in English, right? That would be your 100% percent. To be 80% there, which is pretty impressive, like who wouldn’t mind being 80% into your ultimate goal? So to get to those results, you need to invest 20% of the overall efforts of what it takes to get to the hundred percent.

In other words, you don’t have to do all the things that you think you have to do to get to where you want to be. You have to do a lot less. You have to do the things that would actually move the needle in how you communicate and think about how you communicate in English. The secret is identifying the 20%, identifying the essential elements that would get you results.

Now, again, I have a lot of videos about that, which you can find all organized for you in the PDF that we have created for you. But just as an example, when it comes to vocabulary, a lot of people learn lists and lists and lists of words, and business expressions, and idioms that they’re less likely to use on a day-to-day basis. Where sometimes they get stuck looking for the most basic words. Right?

So, focusing on learning all those fancy words is not as productive as understanding and figuring out the words that you know but you never use. And those words often get you stuck, right? So improving that is going to be a lot more effective than doing all the other things. That is the idea of the 80/20 rule, or the essentials.

The fifth thing is repetition, repetition, repetition. Nothing can actually become a part of your day-to-day English if you don’t repeat it many times. That’s just how it is. Whether it’s a new word or a sound that you’re learning or a new grammar form, or just, you know, a certain situation that you need to be in again and again, and again. Like introducing yourself or a casual small talk. You need to familiarize yourself with those sounds or words or situations for you to get better at it.

So, repetition is key. Because a lot of times people learn and then they assume that once they know it, they’ll be able to use it. But you’ve got to turn it into a habit, you’ve got to turn it into a speaking habit. And to do that, you have to repeat it again and again and again, to create new connections in your brain. And that is when you make it your own and it becomes a part of you and you own it. And you’re not just like knowing it, but unable to use it frequently and spontaneously. So repetition is key, no matter what it is that you’re learning.

Now, I developed a method called the Pronunciation Confidence Method, that I often use when I do Sprints or when I teach my students pronunciation and grammar and vocabulary. So, I listed all the videos where I talk about building pronunciation confidence in the PDF that I’ve prepared for you, which you can download for free.

The sixth thing is high performance practice, and what you can improve by 1% every single day. Meaning, how do you practice English? Do you just do the same thing again and again and again, just to check it off and say, “I did it, great. Let’s go”? Or are you trying to see what you can improve by maybe 1% or half a percent every single day? How can you challenge yourself every day a bit more? How can you make it a bit more complicated? How can you leave your comfort zone every single day, even if it’s just one step at a time?

That is how you grow. And that is how you don’t get into a rut of practice and then you don’t see results, and then you feel frustrated, and then you quit. So, the idea is always to keep yourself on your toes. And to always challenge yourself in ways that empower you and make you feel like you’re actually improving. And you have to look at your previous work and to see what you can do and how you can improve by 1% every single day.

The seventh thing is: learn vocabulary effectively. One of the things that most speakers of English as a second language struggle with is vocabulary. Now, vocabulary is a big word. And a lot of people don’t even know how to start addressing the problem. Now, we think that we need vocabulary when we feel that we are limited in English. You know, we compare the way we communicate in our first language. And then when it comes to English, we feel like a pale version of ourselves, unable to really express how we feel and what we think.

Another thing that I want to talk about when we talk about vocabulary is essentialism, or the 80/20 rule. What are the words that you really need that you will be actually using? And these are the words that actually get you stuck because you don’t use them because they’re not available or you don’t know how to pronounce them, and you’re ashamed of using them. Whatever that is, identify those words and learn those words effectively.

I have a method that actually works, that it might be a little slower than memorizing lists and lists of words, but it gets you to use those words immediately. So I will, again, link to the video where I teach you that method and the PDF that I’ve prepared for you.

The eighth thing is learning pronunciation and prosody. Now, when it comes to fluency and communicating in English effectively, pronunciation and prosody – which is intonation, rhythm, stress, connected speech – play a significant role. Not because you need to sound different or you need to sound native or you need to sound non-foreign. Not because of that. And I know that sometimes you might think that if you spoke like a native, then you wouldn’t have any challenges whatsoever.

So, to tell you the truth, that’s not true. Because I, myself used to have a pretty noticeable accent. And I have improved my pronunciation only until I acquired an American accent. That was a part of my journey as an actress, because I wanted to apply for roles that required an American accent.

So, I did that back then, but that new accent that I acquired – the American accent – didn’t give me the freedom that I was looking for. I was still very self-conscious. I was getting stuck often. Right? So it just created this illusion of sounding like a native, but internally I wasn’t as free as I am now because I have developed my mindset and I have worked on several other things.

So, when it comes to pronunciation and prosody, I think it plays a significant role because it gives you freedom. It gives you clarity, right? So that people understand you and you get what you want. It improves your listening skills, so that gives you more power in any conversation when you’re able to understand better the people whom you’re speaking with.

And ultimately, you know, understanding the intonation of English, and tone of voice, and what gets people to respond to you – this is a very important communication tool. And when you feel self-conscious about your pronunciation, of course, it affects your confidence and that affects your fluency. You tend to speak less, which means you get to practice less, which means you’re not going to be as fluent as you want to be. So this is why pronunciation work is important. But it’s also important to understand its role within the entire context of communicating confidently in English.

When it comes to pronunciation, I have a ton of videos for you that will teach you how to simplify American pronunciation, understand it and use it effectively. And we’re definitely going to talk about repetition there because you build new speaking habits. But again, if you feel that pronunciation is the element that you’re missing, I collected all the relevant links and videos for you in the PDF.

And now we’ve gotten to the ninth thing, which is learning to love your voice. A lot of times I see my students really struggle with practicing or speaking because they can’t stand the voice that comes out of their mouth. Now, I don’t know where to begin explaining the negative impact it may have on your ability to communicate and truly connect with other people when your experience is that you’re hating your voice.

First of all, because when you don’t like hearing yourself, you’re less likely to talk. And when you’re less likely to talk, you’re less likely to express your thoughts, and share your feelings, and show up as a human being in this world that deserves the time and space of other people.

So, it’s really important to understand how deep this goes. And, you know, when it comes to using your voice, yes, we can optimize it. Yes, we can get more comfortable with it. Yes, we can change it if you want. Right? If you feel that your voice is not serving you, your voice is not really who you are.

But also, if your voice in English is a little different than your voice in your native language, these are questions that you need to address and to try to think, why are you changing your voice? Are you just not comfortable using English and that affects your voice? So all of these questions definitely impact the way you communicate in English.

And I want to stress how important it is to learn to love your voice. Not to mention the fact that when you practice English, one of the most effective tools is to record yourself on video, or make audio recordings and to listen back, and to learn from it and to improve. This was one of the best tools.

Now, when you hate your voice, you’re not going to do it. You’re not going to do it because you’re not going to want to hear your voice. And this is exactly why you need to come to terms with your voice, learn how to use it effectively and effortlessly, how to use it so that you don’t lose your voice really quickly after speaking for a few minutes in English. And that creates a holistic solution that helps you show up authentically in English.

And finally, number ten: embrace your mistakes. When we go to school, we learn that when we make a mistake, we get punished for it, right? Like, if you make a mistake, you lose points or you get a negative response from your teacher. And when you don’t make mistakes, you are celebrated, and yay and good for you. And that creates this paradigm in our head that, you know, there is right and wrong in English. Which, by the way, is not true.

Because there are many different ways to say things in English. You can use several different tenses. You can use several different words to express what you want to say, right? And sometimes you can use different prepositions. But in school we learn that there’s only one way, cause that’s the school’s way to teach you and to grade you, and to keep things in order. There’s no flexibility. Which is fine, but it has affected how we perceive the language.

Now, it’s not just in English. Usually people are afraid of making mistakes. They don’t want people to judge them, they don’t want to be criticized, they don’t want people to reject them. Right? Thinking, “Oh, they’re not good enough.” They don’t want to feel like they’re inadequate, not good enough.

Now, all of these things create this sense of perfectionism that people hold onto when communicating in English. And that is probably one of the things that are most counterproductive when it comes to fluency and communicating in English. Instead… instead of beating yourself up every time you make a mistake or feeling bad or cringing or, you know, overthinking it and thinking about what you could’ve done differently, and what they might think about you and, you know, all that negative self-talk, which is also related to the mindset that we talked about. So instead of doing that, what if you decided to celebrate your mistakes because a mistake is an opportunity to learn?

All right, that’s it. Thank you so, so much for being here and for watching it. I hope those 10 things were helpful for you. You know they say that when you write things down, they’re a lot more likely to happen and you’re more likely to do that. So let’s take this opportunity and set an intention for the next 12 months. It doesn’t matter if you’re watching this at the end of the year or in the middle of the year. You know, there are still 12 months ahead of you. So, set your goals and intentions in the comments below. I would love to read it and see it.

Thank you so much. If you want to connect with me personally, then come find me on Instagram at @hadar.accentsway. Have a beautiful, beautiful week. And I’ll see you next week in the next video. Bye.