Effortless English Archives

Automatic English For The People

Sunday, August 09, 2009

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Testing Ustream

Monday, May 25, 2009

Speak English Fluently Squidoo Page

We have a new Squidoo page called Speak English Fluently. It's a brief introduction to our 7 Rules email course and includes a couple of videos.

You can link to it at: http://www.squidoo.com/speak-english-fluently


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Learn English Videos Coming

Our new Learn English Video site is almost finished with development, meaning that beta testing starts soon!

The first phase of testing will involve our All-Star members. These are our most active members and they'll have the opportunity to test the site for free, for 1-2 months.

I have already uploaded a number of videos to the site, and will be making more during the rest of this month.

During beta testing, we'll get feedback from our All-Star members in order to fix bugs and improve the site.

Once we're satisfied that it's ready, we'll launch the site for everyone. The site will be a subscription membership site with a low monthly fee. Every week, I'll add a new video on various topics.

This service has been in very high demand. Videos are the number one request that I get from members-- they are constantly asking for English learning videos from me... especially videos with text transcripts. So that's exactly what this site will have.

We're calling it the Master Member Video Site.

Check our main Home Page for future updates on the Learning English Video Site at: Learn English Videos

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Seminar Rocked!

The "How To Learn English" Seminar in Bangkok Thailand was fantastic.

Most of the learners said it was the most powerful learning experience they have ever had! They were laughing and smiling as they left the room-- so something went right!

At this seminar, we introduced the "3 Levels of Learning" and the importance of learning at the deepest level. Without deep learning, we never really master anything.

But by using all three levels, we activate the full power of our brain.

At Effortless English, we use these three levels of learning to master spoken English. But you can apply these learning methods to any skill.

For example, I'm currently using them to learn singing-- and am having steady and enjoyable progress (until I killed my voice by yelling for 5 straight hours at the seminar!!!)

The next seminar will be on March 29th in Bangkok. Our goal this time is 100 people.

We hope to see you there!

For more information, check the main Effortless English site!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Go To The Home Page

Learn spoken English at The Effortless English Club.

Our blog and homepage have moved to a new address, with a new design. See you there at http://www.EffortlessEnglishClub.com

Sunday, October 14, 2007

New Address For Blog

I have finally changed the address of the blog. We've got both the blog and the podcast on our main page now! Look on the right sidebar. New posts will be at:


This blog will remain active as Archives.... but all new posts will be at the above address.

There are a few reasons I've changed.

1. The new URL web address fits better with the main Effortless English Club pages.
2. This blog has tended to focus on my personal English teaching experiences...
3. This blog was written for a general audience of teachers and learners.
3. I want to focus specifically on interests, needs, and ideas related to The Effortless English Club Community (Lesson owners, Podcast listeners, Email Course graduates...)

So... I'll see you all at the new URL. English teachers and others, please enjoy the archives of this blog site.

Take care,


Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Listen & Answer

Every student knows about "listen and repeat". Listen and repeat is the normal way to teach and learn English.

In school, the teacher says something in English. Then the students repeat exactly what the teacher said. I call this "robot English".

English students also do this at home. They buy CDs, or tapes, or a podcast. They listen. Then they repeat after the speaker. More robot English.

Listening to English is great-- but Listen and Repeat is the WRONG way to do it. Listen and repeat is a robot-like activity. You don't even need to understand the English to do it. Just copy the speaker like a robot.

There are several problems with this method:

1. It is passive. You don't think. You don't need to understand. You just repeat, like a robot machine.

2. It is totally unnatural. In a real conversation, will you ever do this? Of course not.

3. It is super boring. Since you don't use your brain, you quickly get bored with "listen and repeat".

As you know, I think Listening is THE MOST important activity for learning English. But you must use a better way.

That better way is "Listen and Answer". This means you Listen to a question, and then you Answer it. You don't repeat after the speaker, you answer his/her question correctly and quickly.

With Listen and Repeat, the speaker says, "What is your name?"... and then you repeat, "What is your name?"

With Listen and Answer, the speaker says, "What is your name?"... and you say, "My name is AJ". It seems like a small difference--- but in fact it is a VERY important difference.

To ANSWER, you MUST understand. You must understand the question, and then you must quickly think of an answer in English. This encourages your brain to think in English. This is an active method.

This is also much more natural. In real conversations, this is exactly what you do... someone asks you a question and you must understand it and answer it quickly.

Listen and Answer is also more interesting. It is challenging. You can't get bored and sleepy because you must Understand and Answer. Its like a game-- you try to answer more and more quickly.

When you use the old method, you are not ready for real conversations. When you use Listen and Answer, you are ready.

Effortless English lesson sets always include Listen and Answer Mini-Stories. You improve your English quickly by answering questions. The questions are usually very easy, but by answering them you teach your brain to use English quickly.

Get my lessons at: http://www.EffortlessEnglishClub.com

Or find your own Listen and Answer lessons and stories. Just never use "listen and repeat" again!

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007


I want to express my support and admiration for the heroes in Burma-- the monks, the students, the men & women who are fighting, non-violently, for freedom, democracy, human rights, and the true dharma.

Thousands of these brave and peaceful people have been killed by the horrible military government. The people in Burma knew what the military would do. They know their lives were at risk. They knew the government would imprison, torture, burn, and kill any who stood against them. Yet, the monks and people stood anyway.

The events in Burma remind us what is truly important. Let us support the Burmese people any way we can-- with our thoughts, by giving to Human Rights groups,.. and
by pressuring our own governments (and companies) to cut support for the military government.

To this effect, I am working on a new policy for Effortless English. We will give a percentage of every membership fee to Human Rights organizations.

Take care... AJ

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Don't Translate

Yuriko is an excellent student. She has the best English skills in my class.

Yuriko is an excellent writer. She writes very well in English. I have always been impressed by the skill of her writing.

So I was very surprised today when she gave me an essay. The writing was not so good. I was confused. Normally her sentences are very clear-- very easy to understand. But this time, I had a lot of trouble understanding what she was trying to communicate.

I kept thinking, "Why is this essay different than her others? Why is this one so much worse?"

Finally, I had an idea. I asked her, "Did you write this first in Japanese, and then translate it?"

She said, "Yes". Yuriko wanted this essay to be good. So she wrote it first in Japanese and then translated it. She probably thought this would make it better. Instead, it made it much worse.

By translating, Yuriko stopped thinking in English. She lost her natural "Feel" for English. Her grammar is normally excellent, but in this essay, it was not good. Her sentences are normally clear, but in this essay they were very confusing.

Yuriko's English got worse because she was translating instead of using her normal natural English ability. I told her, "Next time, don't write the essay in Japanese first. Just write it in English directly. When you do that, your writing is always very good."

This is also true of speaking. If you learn by translating, your English grammar and fluency will always be bad. You will always be speaking your native language-- using English vocabulary. Your speech will be slower, more confusing, and harder to understand.

Skip translation. Don't do it. When you study English-- listen to English. Read English. Listen to things that are easy for you. Read English books and articles that are easy for you. Over time, you will understand English naturally and easily, without translation. After a bit more time, you will start to speak more naturally and easily. Your grammar will improve-- because you will have a "feel" for English grammar instead of trying to remember rules and translations.

To learn English, listen to English and read English.... do not translate.

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Sunday, April 22, 2007


One of the toughest things about learning a language is finding the time and energy. Most of us can work hard and focus on a language for 4-6 months at a time.

But if you're like me, its hard to keep going longer than that. With Spanish, my efforts have been sporadic. I have tended to do very well for about 3 months at a time. Then I get busy with classes in San Francisco, the Effortless English Club, the podcast, and my personal life.

Its been especially hard as I develop the Club website. Its a lot of work for one person. So, inevitably, my Spanish efforts suffer. For the past 3 and a half months, for example, I haven't studied Spanish at all.

In the past, I would have quit. But this time, I keep coming back... even if I have a long break. The reason is that the study methods I'm using are much more enjoyable. Also, because I'm using a Listen First natural approach.. I find that I still remember most of what I studied in the past. So its very easy to start studying Spanish again... even after a 3 or 4 month break.

But perhaps the biggest change for me has been with my attitude. In the past, I always put a lot of pressure on myself. I wanted to be fluent in one or two years. If I couldn't do that, I just got frustrated and quit.

This time, with Spanish, I don't feel pressure. While I have made goals, I don't get stressed if I can't reach them. I have a much more relaxed attitude... and I have a much longer view. I know that even if I study sporadically-- if I keep doing it when I can, I will eventually become fluent. Already, I can use very basic Spanish to communicate basic information. That's a big improvement from all my past efforts. In the past, when I used traditional study methods, I was never able to communicate.

The main point for me is to never give up. I view Spanish learning as a lifelong activity now. I know my life will get busy at times, and I won't be able to study. That's OK. Because with a Listen First Effortless approach, I know I won't lose what I have already learned. I know that I can come back to Spanish when my life slows down, and I'll be able to easily continue again.

As you study English, remember that learning English is a life-long activity. It is a marathon, not a sprint. Sometimes you will get busy and you won't have time to study. Sometimes you may take a long break. No problem. Just continue using a Listen First Effortless method of study-- and your English will continue to grow.

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Podcast Changes

The Effortless English podcast will be changing over the next few weeks. I've decided to overhaul the format to make it more useful and interesting to students. When I originally started the podcast, I had mostly an audience of English teachers and very advanced English learners.

However, over the past several months, the podcast audience has grown a lot. Most people who listen to the podcast are English learners... and they are a mix of intermediate and advanced learners.

To help these learners, I will be doing more frequent podcasts. I hope to increase to about 4 per week. I will focus on two main points: 1. Casual conversational English and 2. Motivation and Learning methods.

I'll probably do about 3 conversation lessons per week-- each focusing on slang, idioms, and real "street" English. I'll introduce a new word or phrase, explain it, help you pronounce it, and then tell a very short mini-story to help you learn how to use it.

In addition, each week I'll continue to do one podcast focused on motivation, inspiration, and learning methods. Motivation is very important. I know its easy to get tired, or to lose your energy and enthusiasm for English. I'll encourage you and help you keep that motivation high!

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Help others learn to speak English. Go to Delicious, register (top-right), then go to EffortlessEnglish.org and tag us with "learn english"!

Sunday, April 15, 2007


Today I started using a vocabulary review program called Jmemorize.

Basically, its a computer flashcard system... but it schedules the review to maximize long term memory. Its a very simple program, but I find it useful.

Of course, I am not using it to review random lists of words. I always learn my Spanish vocabulary from articles and podcasts. Once I meet a word in a real context, I sometimes save it for later review.

To be honest, I've never liked doing vocabulary review. Usually I prefer to just listen to the article again as a way of reviewing.. instead of focusing on individual words.

But sometimes it can be helpful to review words or phrases that just aren't "sticking". For these, a program like Jmemorize is helpful. You can download Jmemorize for free at: http://www.jmemorize.org/

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Remembering Naturally

I have not studied or listened to Spanish for four months. Four months without any Spanish input.

In the past, when I studied languages with traditional methods, this kind of lapse happened all the time. Im a busy person. But more to the point, I tend to do things in spurts. Ill study hard for several months, then take a few months off. Its just the way I like to work.

When I used traditional language study methods, this was a disaster. After a 2 month break, I would forget most of what I had studied. I lost a lot of vocabulary. I lost a lot of listening comprehension. Usually, this discouraged me, and I would give up. I quit. I quit Spanish. I quit Japanese. I quit Italian.

But this time, I'm using a Listen First, Effortless method to learn Spanish. I don't study grammar rules. I don't memorize vocabulary lists in textbooks. In fact, I don't use textbooks.

Learning this way, I find that once I learn something, I keep it forever. I don't forget.

Today, after a 4 month break, I listened to about an hour of Spanish. I listened to some of my old audio files. I was happily shocked that I could still understand them very well. I hadn't forgotten. In fact, I was amazed at how easy it was to start again after such a long break.

This is very encouraging. By using an Effortless method, I know that when I learn something I really learn it. I will have it for the rest of my life. So even if I get busy, or take a long break, I will not go backwards. I will be able to start again at any time, and I'll immediately start at the level I had stopped at.

This makes language learning seem easier. I know I can do it in bite-size chunks... at my own pace.

All that time spent using textbooks is a waste, because you will forget most of what you study.

To learn and keep English for life, use a Listen First, Effortless method.

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Friday, April 06, 2007

Community, Not Marketplace

I have recently re-thought my idea about making a Teacher Skype Marketplace on Effortless English. I have decided not to do this in the future.

Why not? Well, I have two main reasons:

1. Commercialization
I don't want to commercialize the member site. I want The Effortless English Club to be a true community... in which all members are working together to develop the site. I don't want it to be a "marketplace". Our lives are commercialized enough. And I must already charge members a fee to join. After that, I don't want to have more ads in the member site.

2. The Linguist
There is already an excellent site that offers Discussions with native speaker tutors: The Linguist. The Linguist offers both group discussions and individual discussions on the internet, using Skype. In fact, I still periodically do discussions with them.

I have always thought that Effortless English and The Linguist complement each other. In fact, I encourage my members to also join The Linguist in order to get speaking practice and writing correction. In truth, they do a great job and its much simpler to just refer my members to them for tutors. Click here to Learn English With The Linguist

What I envision for Effortless English is a true learner-designed community. Now that we have a membership base and the basic site design, I'm trying to give more control to the members. I want them to have more control over lesson topics, materials, layout & design, recruitment & marketing,... in fact, everything.

I have no desire to repeat the hierarchical structure of traditional schools. The truth is, traditional education is failing across the board. Recent posts by Tom Peters and Seth Godin have attacked business schools for being irrelevant. My own Social Work program (a Masters degree) and Journalism program (Bachelors) were also irrelevant.

The truth is, the old hierarchical, passive method of education is no longer useful. Sitting in a class listening to boring lectures is a waste of time... whether you are studying English, business, social work, or journalism. Real learning happens on the job, in life, through mentors, individually, and in learning communities.

These are the kinds of communities you find at Effortless English and The Linguist. These are communities that support self-study... where members are equal, enthusiastic, and responsible for their own learning.

If you are tired of learning or teaching the old way... join the future.. join a learning community online.

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

TPRS Wiki Lessons

To help both English teachers and the members of Effortless English, I have created a public Wiki for lessons.

The Effortless English Wiki allows anyone to add or edit lesson materials. Other teachers and learners (including me) can then use those lessons as they want.

By lesson, I do not mean a typical grammar-centered analytical "ESL Lesson". Rather, Effortless English lessons consist of two parts:

1. A Core Text
This is a 1-2 page authentic article: an original essay, a Wiki article, a "fair use" article, a letter or email, etc. Simply write the Text... and put the more difficult words or phrases in bold.

2. A Mini-Story
This supports the Core Text. TPRS mini-stories are very short (1/2 page to 3/4 page) stories that use 6-8 of the target vocabulary words from the Core Text. Other than the target vocabulary, the mini-story should contain very simple and direct English. This way, the mini-story helps learners understand the vocabulary more easily.. and helps them understand how to use it.

I've got a sample Lesson on the Wiki already.

To join in, simply go to the Effortless English Wiki and click "Register" in the top-right corner. You can then add to or edit the Wiki as you want.

Click here to go to the Wiki.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Teachers Wanted

The Effortless English Club is looking for passionate, fun, enthusiastic English teachers with an interest in "natural" teaching approaches.. especially TPR-Storytelling.

As a member, you can download existing lessons on the site- use them directly in your class or use them for inspiration for your own lessons. This is a great way to save preparation time. Also, by listening to and using the Effortless English lessons, you might learn new teaching methods and techniques... especially TPR-Storytelling.

You can try a Free one month membership by going to: www.effortlessenglish.com.

Even better, if you create an Effortless English lesson yourself, and I use it on the Club site, you will get a 6 month membership for Free. If you create 2 or more lessons that I post to the Club site, you will get a Free 12 month membership.

In the next several months, I will also be working to help teacher-members make an online tutoring income. How? By chatting with Effortless English members online, using Skype. The style and approach you use will be up to you. As will the price you charge. I will simply provide a Forum where teachers can advertise their services (and contact info) to members and learners can find online tutors and discussion leaders. Over time, I hope to develop this as a craigslist-like service to help online learners and online teachers find each other.

At the moment, we are still in Beta mode, so all of this is totally new. But if you'd like to join and become involved in building our English learning community... join at www.effortlessenglish.com

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