The dangers of pronunciation training

And how not to lose confidence in your speaking skills
green leafed trees
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You need to improve your pronunciation, so you start pronunciation training. Of course, you want to improve but you must know there are dangers.

It’s often true that the more you know you feel like the less you know. The problem is that the more you learn about how you can make your speech clearer and more natural the more you realise that your pronunciation needs work. Maybe, speaking English is already a bit of a challenge. It’s not something that is generally focused on at school, where class sizes and maybe a teacher who doesn’t have English as their first subject can be an issue.

A lot of people come to me with a lot of anxiety about speaking English already. Often, at least a part of this is centered around how they speak. They’re afraid of not being understood or making a fool of themselves by mispronouncing words (though, in reality, most people don’t care, and the ones that do don’t matter!). Others are also concerned about talking “too Swiss” or speaking “Bundesrat Englisch”.

Pronunciation training will help you to have a solid foundation to reproduce the sounds and rhythm of the English language. You will see the results as miscommunications are reduced and you feel more at ease speaking the language, giving you confidence in the long run. The side effect though can be a temporary loss of confidence as you start to realise what work needs to be done.

For this reason, it is important that you take it slow and ideally find someone to help you navigate this stage of the process. In my pronunciation training, I start with listening exercises so that first the learners can identify the sounds they are having trouble with and can tell the difference between similar sounds. Then, we move on to learning the mouth position and air release needed to make these sounds before practicing them individually, then in words, and finally in sentences. The same with word and sentence stress, linking, and intonation. Everything we do goes from small to big, from parts to the whole.

While you’re learning a new feature it may be impossible to incorporate it into your speech at work or school straight away. You can’t pause before every “th” to make sure you’re doing it right, for example. This will make your English very difficult to understand. What you can do is notice how you are producing the sound. Be mindful. When you realise that the sound is not perfect, instead of allowing that knowledge to make you lose confidence, you can remind yourself that you’re going to correct it and soon it won’t be an issue anymore. When you are confident about making the new sound or using the new feature at home you can start to use it in daily life.

Pronunciation training should give you confidence, not take it away. You just have to remember that being aware of your mistakes is the first step toward correcting them.

For a limited time, you can do my pronunciation test, and receive full feedback and an action plan for free! Sign up here: https://sw-english.com/pronunciation-assessment-sign-up/. To find out more about my pronunciation training and Business English lessons send me an email to sally@sw-english.com


Do I have to learn how to say the “th”?

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The “th” or /ð/ and /θ/ sounds don’t exist in German or many other languages. Notoriously difficult to produce, to make them you have to find the right spot with your tongue on your front teeth. It takes a lot of practice and can take many months or even years to perfect.

The question is: Is it worth it?

Research into English as a lingua franca  – (ELF) the use of the English Language as a global means of communication between different non-native speakers – has led to the development of the lingua franca core*. This is a list of English features that have to be correct in order for people to understand each other and includes most consonants. You cannot replace one consonant with another in a word in English and expect it to be understood; parrots and carrots, for example, are totally different things. The “th” or /ð/ and /θ/ sounds, however, are outside of this core and therefore unessential. Evidence shows that people speaking English can understand each other fine without them.

Another reason not to learn the “th” is that around the world, many nations of English speakers don’t use the /ð/ or /θ/ sounds, for example the 1.393 billion people of India, and the people of Ireland. In these countries the “th” sounds are replaced with /t/ or /d/ sounds.

When faced with these facts it would seem to be a waste of time to focus on these sounds but talking to my students I’ve realised that for many of them not being able to pronounce the “th” is a source of anxiety and even embarrassment. It seems that what is going on here is that it’s not that the missing sound creates a lack of communication, but it means they speak a kind of English that they see as being not good enough.

Is it that the American and British “Englishes” are seen by many as “the only way” to speak English properly even though it is spoken all over the world? When I started teaching back in 2001, there were language schools that would only take on “native speakers” and this is still true to some extent today.

Not all native speakers are “native speakers” according to these schools. Although as well as Anglo-American teachers, South Africans and Australians are welcome to teach there, other English native speaking teachers from places such as India or Africa are usually not. To hammer the point home, many schools employing only “native English teachers” have names like, “The Cambridge Institute” and “The Wall Street Institute” and you don’t find schools called “Montego Bay English” or “The Lagos Institute”.

By excluding teachers with non-Anglo-American and non-native accents and advertising using British or American symbols, such as Big Ben or the Union Jack (Flag), these schools are putting out the message that correct English, the kind you learn at their amazing language school, belongs to the people of a few countries and other accents are not good enough to be taught.

Why English schools have found promoting Anglo-American accents and ignoring others preferable, is open to speculation. Is it something to do with public bias towards the countries themselves? Who knows?

Anyway, the result of this bias has been that a lot of people believe that to speak English “right” you have to use English or American pronunciation. If you’re in a global English environment speaking with people from all over the world you’ll probably find people much more open to accent variations, but, if not, you’ve got to ask yourself how strong this, often unconscious, bias towards sounds like the “th” is in your working environment.

So, to answer the question “Do I have to learn how to say the “th” the answer is, it’s up to you and your situation!

I use the Lingua Franca Core to show me which elements of English pronunciation are essential to communication and which ones help us to sound more “acceptable” in certain situations. It’s up to my students to decide if sounding “English” is important to them in their situation. If it is, we cover non core elements, such as the /ð/ or /θ/ (“th”) sounds, and if it’s not we can save time and just focusing on the parts needed to speak clearly.

I’d be interested to hear about whether the “th” is important to you and why, so let me know in the comments. If you’d like to know how I can help you with your English pronunciation you can visit my homepage www.sw-english.com (In German, English coming…) or send me an email to sally@sw-english.com. At the time of writing I’m offering a free online pronunciation test, review and action plan. Give it a go!

Have a great day!

*See Jenkins, J. 2003. “Community, Currency and the Lingua Franca Core” TESOL Spain
Newsletter. Vol 26, Spring 2003.


Two Topical Podcasts

Articles and podcasts about cultural issues in English-speaking countries, politics in Switzerland and abroad, education, technical advances, and an infinite number of other topics can be a fascinating basis for a discussion and deliver excellent opportunities to learn new vocabulary and the latest idiomatic language. The sheer amount of information jockeying for position on the internet can be overwhelming, however, so I’ve decided to write about two of my favorites:



The Guardian is an established broadsheet* newspaper in the UK. The Long Read is a series of long articles on a range of different subjects. Some texts are also available as audio podcast episodes. Here is one of my favourite episodes:

The only way to end the class divide. The case for abolishing private schools.


People who have not lived in the UK are often unaware of the effect of having been, or not having been, to a private school on someone’s future career and life in Britain. Did you know that only 6% of the UK population go to private school, but 32% of MPs (Members of Parliament)? and 74% of Judges were privately educated? Find out how private schools shape the UK class system, promoting inequality and causing division across the board.


A shorter alternative from across the pond is The Daily. Although released as an audio podcast, there is the possibility to download a transcript a day after the audio is released. Topics are very up-to-date, so they don’t tend to age well, but they are well worth a listen.

This episode follows Valerie Gilbert a Qanon supporter before and after Biden took office. The podcast introduces the Qanon community and explains their hopes for a new order to be brought about by President Trump. Can Qanon survive Biden’s election, or is it time for the movement to cut its losses and disband?

I hope you have a chance to check out these episodes. If you have any questions or comments don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Sally Welti

*a newspaper with a large format, regarded as more serious and less sensationalist than tabloids


Pimp your Present Perfect for Result with YouTube, or “Help! I’ve fallen!”

Hi and Happy New Year 2021! Long time no see. Seeing as I have watched most of YouTube, I’ve decided to make some grammar videos using video clips. These videos shows the connection between the past and the present that is needed for the present perfect tense.

Present perfect always needs some elements of past and present. If you only have past, it’s past simple:

I went to Spain last year

If you are talking generally about the present, it’s present simple:

The moon goes around the earth.

If you are talking about right now in the present, it’s present continuous:

I’m sitting at my desk typing.

As soon as you talk about events in the past that clearly effect the present, such as a fall when the person is still on the ground,

“She’s fallen and she can’t get up” (She fell -past- and is lying on the floor -present-)

or you break something,

“I’ve broken your cup” (I broke your cup -past- the cup is still broken -present-)

you need present perfect. When the past effects the present like this you have a result in the present, so this use of present perfect is called “present perfect for result“. There are other times you need present perfect, for example when you say “how long” something has gone on for. As always with present perfect this also needs past and present elements:

I’ve lived here for 3 years. (I started living here three years ago -past- and I live here now -present)

I’ll cover this in the next video.

Anyway, enjoy and take care,



Lessons in “for” and “since” from Sam Smith, BB King and friends

Photo by Suvan Chowdhury from Pexels

Confusion with “for” and “since” is a very common problem for English learners. Often, even when people understand how to use each word correctly, there are slip-ups. The difference in the use of these two words is one of those things that is specific to the English language and therefore difficult to remember. Thankfully songwriters throughout the ages are experts in the subject, and there’s nothing more memorable than a good tune.

First, here’s a song sung by BB King and Katie Webster. Just listen to the chorus at 1.43 if you don’t have time for the whole song:

Let’s look at the lyrics of the chorus sung by BB King (If you’re not too chilled out after listening to that):

  • Since I met you baby my whole life has changed
  • Since I met you baby you’ve made a new man out of me
  • Since I met you baby I’m as happy as a man can be.

Here’s another beautiful song. This time from Chris Delmhorst. If you don’t have time for the whole song listen to 0:13 to 0:40:

OK, stop weeping! Let’s look at some of the lyrics of this song:

  • Seems like to me the stars don’t shine so bright
  • Seems like to me the sun has lost its light
  • Seems like to me there’s nothing going right … since you went away

Next please! Here are the champions of the English language, The Beatles. Non Beatles fans can skip straight to 02.25

This time in the chorus at the end: I’ll never dance with another, since I saw her standing there

The word “since” is used before a word or phrase expressing a point in time in the past. For example, in the sentence “I have lived in Zurich since 2007.” 2007 is the point in time in the past. Since is another way of saying “from … until now”

Back in BB Kings song, meeting his lover for the first time is the point in time in the past. He then lists the things that are true in his life from then until now.

I met you = at a point in time in the past

My life has changed, I’m a new man, I’m really happy = have been true from that time and is still true now

In Chris Delmhorst’s song:

You went away = at a point of time in the past

The sun has lost its light, the bird has forgotten his song, the stars don’t shine so bright = These things have happened from then until now.

In The Beatles song:

I saw her standing there = at a point of time in the past

I’ll never dance with another = has been true from that time until now and will be true for ever and ever (gotta love The Beatles)

So, you use “since” before a point of time in the past. But what about “for”?

Let’s ask Sam Smith. Skip to 1:29 if you wish to avoid the dramatics at the beginning.

Apart from accusing us of calling him crazy and calling him baby, he sings:

For months on end I’ve had my doubts I have loved you for many years

The last word is going to go to Phil Collins. Don’t tell me you don’t know this one! Skip to 0.36 if you don’t have time for the whole song.

Phil sings: I’ve been waiting for this moment for all of my life

As these songs show, the word “for” is used before a length of time.

“Months on end”, “many years” and “all of my life”

“I have lived in Zurich since 2007″ and “I have lived in Zurich for 13 years” mean the same (In 2020), but “since” is used before a point in time and “for” before a length of time.

And finally ….there are also songs that show you how not to do it. For example this one, that has been covered many many times.

If you weren’t too busy worrying about their hair catching fire to listen to the song, you might have noticed the hook: “Since you’ve been gone”.

Can anyone spot a problem here? The word “since” is before “you’ve been gone”. While our other examples always used the past simple, to express a point of time in the past, “I met her”, “You went away” “I saw you”, this song uses present perfect “You’ve been gone“. The present perfect, “have/has been” plus the past participle (gone), is not used to describe a point in the past that is finished. It’s used to describe something that started in the past and is still true now, so you shouldn’t use it after “since”. It should really be “since you went away” like in Kris Delmhorst’s song or “since you left

But I suppose that’s rock-and-roll for ya!

Please leave any comments are suggestions below. Have a good week!


Mistakes using “by” and “until”

Hi English enthusiasts! I’ve decided to start a blog correcting errors that I hear from students and other speakers of English as a foreign language day after day here in Switzerland. I hope you will join me on this journey into the foul swamps of split infinitives and false friends.

Let’s start with that old blooper:

“by” and “until”

So, you’re at work. Your boss comes in,

“I need the sales report. Have you finished it yet? I need it at four!”

You say: “It’s nearly finished, I’ll give it to you ***** four o’clock.”

What’s missing, “by” or “until”?

If you answer is “until”, we need to talk.

Let’s go to another situation. You’re in the pub with Dave. You’re talking about your bucket lists*

You say: “I’d love to go bungee jumping!”

Your friend Dave says: “I want to go bungee jumping until I’m 50.”

Really Dave?

Jumping and jumping and jumping and jumping and jumping and jumping and jumping and jumping and jumping and jumping and jumping……The WHOLE time up to your 50th birthday! Bouncing and eating, bouncing and sleeping. That doesn’t sound healthy!

No Dave, the word you need is “before”.

“I want to go bungee jumping before I’m 50,” means that you want to experience this thing one time.

At least I hope this is what you wanted to say…

So, back to the office

When you say “It’s nearly finished, I’ll give it to you until four o’clock.” It means you will spend the entire time up to four o’clock “giving it” to your Boss. I don’t know, maybe it’s got A LOT of pages…

No! Giving doesn’t take that long! If you use “until”, you mean that you will be doing the activity from right now when you are speaking up to the time, date, day etc. that you mention.

The right answer is, “I’ll give it to you before four o’clock.” You’ll finish it, and then you’ll give it to your boss ONCE some time before four.

TIPP: For this reason, verbs describing short activities such as: “to give”, “to start”, “to stop” “to enter” etc. are seldom used with the word until.

Here are some more examples. Are they correct or incorrect? (Answers at the end)       

1. I’m going to study until I get my degree.

2. I’m going to do the proficiency exam until I go back to Switzerland.

3. I’m playing tennis until four o’clock.

4. I’ll finish my tennis game until four o’clock

5. I’m going to make an appointment with my dentist until Christmas.

6. I have to renew my passport until 2030

7. I have until this Friday to apply for the job

Please leave a like or comment if you’re part of the blogging community. I’m also on the lookout for new topics, so if there’s anything you’d like me to try to clear up for you, please let me know. Let’s bash out those bloopers!

Take care


Answers: 1. Correct 2. Incorrect 3. Correct 4. Incorrect 5. Incorrect 6. Incorrect 7. Correct   

*Lists of experiences or achievements that a person hopes to have or accomplish during their lifetime. (Oxford)

Image 2 by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

Your accent is beautiful

I asked Chat GPT to write an inspirational quote about pronunciation and its answer was “your accent is beautiful”

I was somewhat caught off guard with this statement. Thinking about my German accent as an English native speaker living in Switzerland, I don’t like the idea of myself having an accent. In fact when I travel to Germany I hope people will think I’m Swiss.

There’s something about having a foreign accent that I don’t like. Maybe I feel like I don’t belong with my accent, I’m different. I don’t want to be put in the same box as tourists and expats, here today, gone tomorrow. Maybe I don’t think people will take me seriously.

Thinking of your accent as beautiful takes a leap of faith that people will accept you as you are, a person with a different background and cultural upbringing but a valuable part of their social circle.

I don’t want to teach people that their accent is bad or wrong. Your accent is beautiful. It’s true. It’s an expression of the people who raised you, your ancestors over many generations and their environment that shaped the way they expressed themselves.

Don’t be ashamed of your English accent. Your accent is not a problem unless it makes your English difficult to understand. Communication can be hampered if you don’t know how spoken English works though. By learning to identify and emulate the melody and rhythm of English you can prevent miscommunications and be in a better position to get your point across.

Isn’t that the point of language? To enable us to connect with each other, share our experiences and communicate effectively so that we can work together better.

As a pronunciation coach I’m not here to judge the way you speak. My mission is to make it easier for you to be understood by and understand other people.

Love your accent. It’s beautiful!

Get in touch if you would like to know more about how I can help you with your pronunciation:


(+41) 077 489 1921


Five tips to speak English more naturally

woman in blue suit jacket
Photo by Jopwell on Pexels.com

One: Keep it simple

  • When you’re speaking English you can, and should, use shorter sentences and words than when you’re writing. Long and complicated words might hardly be used in spoken English and sound weird to your listeners. If you can, replace complicated verbs with phrasal verbs, for example, instead of “resume work” you could say “go back to work”.

Two: Enjoy your mistakes

  • Everybody makes mistakes, even proficient English speakers. Be able to laugh at them and learn from them -Like when I used to call squirrels, “unicorns” in German. Enjoy your mistakes and the fear of them won’t drag you down. You can’t speak English naturally if you’re afraid!

Three: Learn about word and sentence stress and intonation

  • At worst a mistake in word stress can change the meaning of a word, at best it makes words difficult to understand for a proficient speaker. The same goes for sentence stress. English has its own rhythm that is created by the patterns of stress and unstress. Learn about and follow these rhythms and your English will flow.
  • Intonation covers the ups and downs of a language, otherwise known as the melody of a language. English should not be spoken in a monotone, or on one note. Learn to use this melody to add meaning and life to your speech.

Four: Learn how English word sounds combine

  • For more advanced learners it’s really helpful to learn what words sound like together when spoken naturally. A beginner learning English might say, “That is it!” an intermediate speaker would say “That’s it” but a proficient English speaker says “That sit!”

Five: Practice, practice, practice

  • As with any aspect of English, practice makes progress (not perfect!). How often do you get the chance to speak English? If it’s once a week or less you should really get proactive and find a way to practice. There are meet-up groups all over the place where you can speak English, quiz nights in Irish pubs, English speaking networking groups and much more online and in person
  • If you aren’t ready to take your English out in public you can find a tandem partner -half the time they speak your native language and the other half you speak English-, or even sign up for conversation lessons online on such platforms as italki or preply.

How I can help

I can offer you an experienced ear, actually, two, to pick out which areas of pronunciation you need to work on to speak English more naturally. Through individual bespoke English pronunciation lessons I can help you can build up your confidence and fluency and reduce the influence of your mother tongue.

Send me a message or give me a call to find out more

Test your English pronunciation

Try my online test for German speakers for free

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Why should I work on my English pronunciation

Chances are that pronunciation work wasn’t a large, or any, part of your English lessons at school. Learning grammar and vocabulary was probably the driving force behind the curriculum, but does this mean that work on how to speak English and not just what is a waste of time. I don’t think so, and I’ll tell you why.

  1. You can have a large vocabulary and excellent use of grammar, but still not be understood when you speak because of poor pronunciation.
  2. How you speak is one of the first things people pick up on when they meet you. If they find you difficult to understand when you meet it might leave a lasting bad impression.
  3. Poor pronunciation is a barrier to communication and can cause unnecessary complications that wouldn’t otherwise have been an issue.
  4. Other languages’ intonation, how the voice goes up and down in pitch, is different to English intonation. Using the wrong intonation when speaking English can make you difficult to understand or even sound rude.
  5. Leaning about word and sentence stress as well as the use of weak word forms can help you to understand and eventually master rapid speech.

These are just a few benefits of learning more about English pronunciation. But what now? How do you know what you need to work on?

I have developed an online English pronunciation test for native German speakers. As it’s still in its beta form I’m offering free feedback and an action plan for the first few people who do it. Send me an email to sally@sw-english.com to find out if it’s right for you. I’ve developed this test using research into the mistakes that German speakers make when speaking English. I’m sorry, if German’s not your native language this test isn’t for you.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Pronunciation: Do you have a case of terminal devoicing?

When you say “peas” and “peace” do the words sound the same?

What about “pick” and “pig”?

or “dug” and “duck”?

If they do you might be suffering from terminal devoicing. It sounds serious, but don’t worry, despite its name, there is a cure. We’ll get to that later. First, what is it, and who typically suffers from it?

In German, in many Slavic languages, Russian and Turkish the pronunciation of consonants at the end of words often changes. In German we call it Auslautverhärtung; the hardening of a final consonant. For example in

Bundeshaus /d/

the pronunciation is the typical voiced “d” sound

But in

Bund /t/

The pronunciation often sounds more like a “t”

Although in Swiss German this isn’t always as obvious as in High German, it can still lead to problems with the pronunciation of word endings in English. Sometimes my students say “set” instead of “said” or “back” instead of “bag”. This issue affects the following sounds: /b/ /d/ /g/ /v/ /z/, s (when pronounced /z/) and dsch /dʒ/. These are all voiced consonants -basically, when you say them you can feel a vibration in your throat (try saying these letters with your fingers lightly resting on your throat and you’ll see what I mean).

These voiced consonants are changed in terminal devoicing and sound more like unvoiced consonants (no throat vibration). /b/ turns into /p/, /d/ into /t/ and the other sounds turn into /k/, /f/, /s/ and tsch /​​t͡ʃ. In this way “peas” /z/ becomes “peace” /s/, pig /g/ becomes pick /k/ and dug becomes duck /k/.

person holding white labeled brown bottle

So, how can you cure a case of terminal devoicing? One remedy is a big dose of vowels (a,e,i,o,u). If you lengthen the vowel before the final consonant it will sound better. Saying the consonant at the end softer as well will help to balance the word out.

In the following recording, I read out these perculiar phrases.

I picked a pig

peas for peace

I want my bag back

I dug a hole with a duck

Each time I say these phrases, the first time I devoice the last consonant of one of the words, and the second time I lengthen the vowel and soften the final consonant, for example “piiiiig” or “peees. I have exaggerated the pronunciation to make it clearer.


First, listen to the difference between the two phrases and then try practicing the right version of each phrase. Being aware of this difference in English can really be a game changer as it affects so many words. Here are just a few to practice:


  • cab/cap
  • seed/seat
  • dog/dock
  • mob/mop
  • code/coat
  • log/lock
  • bead/beat

Anyway, I will wish you a good evening, morning, afternoon, or night! If you need some more help with your pronunciation, or any other English issues that are holding you back, send a mail to sally@sw-english.com to book a free discovery call. I offer one-to-one English coaching in Zurich and online.

Having a bad day

One thing I have noticed as a language learner and teacher is that on some days speaking a foreign language is much harder than on others. Sometimes I have days that I really find it difficult to express myself in German and some days students, who I know are pretty fluent in English seem to struggle with the simplest of sentences.

When this happens it’s easy to slip into a negative mindset, thinking that we really aren’t as good at the language as we thought we were. We may think: “Why can’t I do this!”, “I must be really terrible at the language to make such a simple mistake.”, “I’ll never get it right.” and so on. I remember my C1 German exam last year. Everything went well until it came to the speaking exam. Maybe it was nerves? Maybe I hadn’t been speaking enough German? But, for whatever the reason, I really couldn’t say what I wanted to. I knew I could do better, but at that moment my German seemed to go on a little holiday.

It can really happen to all of us. Sometimes we disappoint ourselves and it’s frustrating, especially if it’s at a key moment, an important meeting, a presentation, or meeting new clients. So, what can cause these language fails?

It’s not always, but can be, a lack of practice. Maybe you haven’t been speaking the language recently as much as you usually do. You’re thinking in your native language and having to translate everything directly rather than going with the flow. Maybe you’re just tired, hungry, stressed out or have just had a negative experience that has destroyed your confidence -and confidence is key; being constantly afraid of getting it wrong or embarrassing yourself will destroy your ability to speak another language. But…maybe none of thes things are true. Maybe you are just having an bad day.

The most important thing to do is accept that you’re having a bad day and move on. Don’t beat yourself up about it. That’s the way it is and it’s not going to change if you are hard on yourself. If you can let go of your high expectations you’ll relax and be able to communicate better.

In my one-to-one English sessions I can help you to let go of negative thinking and create a positive relationship with the language. Send me a message to book a free discovery call.

How good is your English really?

Zen master Thích Nhất Hạnh, who died in January this year, had some advice: You should write “Are you sure?” and tape it to your wall. This will remind you that, although you may believe something is true, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is. In order to make good progress in any area of life, it is necessary to be able to see the world as it really is. False perceptions will lead us to make bad decisions and you might create blind spots that will hold you back from doing what you need to do.

We often over or underestimate our language skills. Have you ever thought you had forgotten a language completely, but then go to the country where they speak the language and realise that you can still understand a lot of what is being said, and even make some conversation? Have you ever started a language course thinking that you knew the language well only to discover a whole new world of vocabulary and grammar that you never knew existed? I know I have! It can be quite daunting.

It is necessary to question our own beliefs as these beliefs will affect our behaviour in the future. Someone who believes their English is still poor after many years of studying might be tempted to give up, but maybe this belief comes, not from reality, but from the harsh voice of a critical teacher or parent from the past. If they could block out these negative voices maybe they could see what they can do, instead of what they can’t. On the other hand, overestimation of our own abilities can come from a fear of failure. This fear prevents us from improving because it stops us from seeing the areas that we need to work on. It’s too painful to face them because we would have to admit that we’re not perfect.

So, my advice to you is never too sure of your language ability. If you ever hear a voice in the back of your head saying “You can’t” don’t forget to reply “Are you sure?”

A New Start or Back to Work

Last week the schools started again after the summer holidays. Some kids are going back to what they know but others are starting in new classes or even new schools. There are new challenges, with maybe even a whole new location, new teachers, and classmates.

For us adults, this time of year usually means getting back into our old work routine, hopefully bringing back some inspiration from our time away. These first few weeks are not always easy. Getting used to getting up early, the commute, and being organised again, especially for those of us juggling work and childcare, can take time. Those of us starting something new, for example, taking on new responsibilities, taking up a new position, starting a training course, or even relocating, will need to make new routines. It might seem like an uphill struggle at first. There’s so much to learn, but it’s normal to be frightened of making mistakes and of what people think of you. The only way out is to keep going.

The good news is that after the initial “shock” things calm down. You get into a routine, or back into a routine, and life is more peaceful again. The same is true of learning a language. The beginning is tough. Re-starting is tough and can be tougher. Real and perceived failures from the past haunt us and make it difficult to get started. The only way out is through. Build a routine and stick to it. Don’t let mistakes stop you from going on. You might find that a break has given you just the inspiration and perspective that you needed to get to the next level.

Idioms for Motivation

I’m [1] champing at the bit to get started on the new project. Don’t tell me to [2]dial it down. This time I’m going to [3]go the extra mile and [4]blow them away.  Yes, I’m really [5]raring to go.  I’m going to [6]eat, sleep and breathe this new product until we [7]hit the jackpot. I’m going to [8]put my heart and soul into ituntil we make a [9]roaring trade. We’ll be [10]riding high, where [11]no one can touch us.  Are you with me?

Yes, [12]With bells on! It sounds like [13]seventh heaven.

Match the idioms with the definitions

a) To be very successful as a shop or business

b) certainly (an enthusiastic agreement)

c) to lessen the amount, or degree, of something

d) to be restless and impatient to start doing something (i)

e) to be restless and impatient to start doing something (ii)

f) Have great success (especially to suddenly get a large sum of money)

g) impress (someone) greatly

h) To do something with the greatest possible energy, enthusiasm, and determination.

i) To be extremely invested in something because it is of great interest to you.

j) To be very happy

k) Make an extra effort to achieve something

l) No one is as good as we are

m) To be successful


1d, 2c, 3k, 4g, 5e, 6i, 7f, 8h, 9a, 10m, 11l, 12b, 13j