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Archive for April, 2013

Give Yourself a Break

April 28th, 2013

26 Comments »

It’s a beautiful day here in Shanghai.  I’m feeling pretty good today and I wanted to share some simple, but good advice with you.

Give yourself a break!  What do I mean?  I’m not talking about a holiday (although, going on a holiday is pretty sweet).

I’m just talking about giving yourself a break from any feelings you have of guilt.  We all have things that we’re feeling guilty about, maybe not super guilty, but even just a little.

Maybe your diet hasn’t been great lately.  Maybe you haven’t been the greatest boyfriend or girlfriend in your relationship lately.  Maybe you aren’t happy with how little you’ve been exercising or studying.  Maybe you have been doing as well as you’d like in business or at work.  I don’t know.  But I am guessing there is probably at least one thing in your life where you feel like you are kind of  blaming or even hating yourself in some way.

My advice today is simple:  Take a break from any self-hate, guilt, or worry that you have for at least today.  Just take a moment to realize that this worry and guilt you feel isn’t helping you.

I’m not saying that you should just do whatever you want and not care anymore.  I’m just suggesting that you take one day to completely forgive yourself 100% for anything that you are blaming yourself for.  Forget about what you did or didn’t do.  The blame isn’t helping the situation.  You should also stop blaming other people or outside events.  Just accept whatever situation you are in, at least for today.  See how you feel.

Just smile, relax, and enjoy being you.  None of us are perfect and we all have things we are blaming ourselves for.  It sucks our energy and makes us feel less confident, less happy, and just worse in pretty much every way.  This self blame, even if it is pretty small, isn’t helping the people around you either.

So just let go of any pain from the past that you are holding onto.  Today is a new day and you can change anything in your life starting now.  It will be a lot easier to do this if you can stop dragging the pain from the past into each and every day.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.   Your responses to the last blog were absolutely amazing by the way!

Have a great day :)

Be Yourself. Is This Good Advice?

April 25th, 2013

51 Comments »

I’m pretty excited for today’s blog.  I love the topic.  I’m even more excited to read your comments!  I really want to let you guys know that even if you don’t realize it, it’s your comments that make me continue writing this blog.  Trust me, I read them all and I think about them all.  They make a big difference.

Ok….. Today’s topic is about “being yourself”.  This phrase is used all the time in spoken English.  It’s supposed to be good advice.

In most western countries (maybe other countries too), if you ask you parents for advice on how to act when you are on your first date, most of them will just tell you to “be yourself”.  Everyone seems to agree with this idea of “being yourself”, but I honestly wonder if they are even thinking about it AT ALL when they give this kind of advice.  I often think people just say things without really thinking about what they are saying.  It drives me insane!

What does “be yourself” mean anyway?  Basically it just means “don’t be fake” and “do and act the way that you feel is natural to you”.

Well, that sounds great, but what if the “real you” doesn’t work?  What if people don’t like “the real you”?  What if they are offended by your jokes or your personality?  Should you change? or should you just keep “being yourself” and seeing what happens?

I’ve thought about this question a lot actually.  I’ve thought about it for my entire life.  Sometimes I even think about it when I make lessons for this website.  I don’t want to offend or upset other people, but I still want to be my REAL self.

The reason this question is so important to me is because “the real me” doesn’t always work; not even close!  Bosses and teachers often HATE the real me.  They get embarrassed by my sense of humour, etc.  (The truth is that I don’t like them either, but that’s another story)…..

After thinking about this question for years and years, I think I believe that I should try really hard to be myself.  It’s too important.  The truth is that I might miss out on certain opportunities because I’m not always obsessed with doing what society thinks is normal, but if I am not myself, I will end up feeling completely sick.  And who wants to feel sick?  That’s horrible.

The truth is that I never want to offend anyone.  It’s never my goal.  It’s also true that I don’t always have the same opinions as other people.  We are all different to some extent.

So what should I do?  Do I have to keep all my thoughts and opinions inside?  Should I be afraid of accidentally offending someone who is overly sensitive in my opinion?  I hope not…

It’s kind of a weird feeling when you make podcasts and videos.  Trust me, I totally know 100% that I’m not some super famous person.  But, over the years, millions of people have downloaded our podcasts and/or watched our videos.  (It’s a lot more of the podcasts but the videos on learnenglish232.com will catch up fast).  The point is that Add and I have seen tons of comments about our work.  We know that we have fans, but we also know that thousands of people probably listen to 30 seconds of one podcast or watch a few seconds of one video and think “I hate these guys”, “This is boring”, “This sucks”, or WORSE.  It’s only natural that this happens, it’s just a weird feeling when you experience it personally.

At the end of the day, I think Add and I have to keep on being ourselves and just being happy with it, no matter what happens.  We certainly have to try to keep getting better and to be the absolute best we can, but we need to just be careful not to “change” anything about our fundamental “core” beliefs.  We want to make the best stuff in the world for our REAL fans, and just forget about anyone who doesn’t really understand the whole point of the 232.  Let’s face it, some people don’t get it.

Large companies have no personality because they are too worried about trying to make everyone happy.  That’s not really our job.  That seems too boring.  I was talking to another popular online teacher about this the other day.  He told me he has decided not to share his real thoughts and feelings with the world because he doesn’t want to “get into politics” or have to deal with all the emails from people he offends.

I totally understand his perspective, but Add and I have a different opinion on this.  We want you guys to know the real us.  We think it will make for much better lessons, and a much more interesting environment for real discussion and real English learning.

What do you guys think?  Should we keep being ourselves?  Should we worry about accidentally offending people with some of our jokes?  Should we be even MORE like the real us?

We’d love to know your thoughts on this.  One thing Add and I both love is brutal honesty; you know, the real truth.  If you totally agree, please say so and why.  If you totally disagree and think something we say or do is retarded or ridiculous, please say that too.  Not just with this blog, but always.  No matter what the feedback is, we love hearing the real truth.  It makes everyone better and it makes the world more interesting.

Also, what about this question in YOUR own life?  Are you your real self all the time?  When, if ever, do you think it’s useful to be “fake”?

I hope this blog made sense, and I hope you found it at least somewhat interesting.

Ok……….          I’m waiting for those comments guys!  And girls :)

Oh ya… If you have ANY blog topic requests or video lesson requests, please write them in the comments and I’ll do my best to make that asap!

Andy :)

Learning English On Twitter

April 23rd, 2013

15 Comments »

I’ve never been a “Twitter guy”, but I’d love to start using it properly to give you another way to learn English.  I always hear “check us out on Twitter” or “Follow us on Facebook”.

Up until now, we’ve relied on sending you emails, and Facebook posts to get you guys back to visit the website.  There are so many websites and so many distractions both online and offline.  If we remind you guys to come back to this site through an email or a Facebook post, we get A LOT more people on this site everyday.  Even if you like to use some particular website, you probably don’t go visit it everyday.  (Unless it’s Facebook or your email).  I’m almost positive that there are no more than 5 websites in the whole world that you visit everyday.  Am I right?  Is this because you don’t like many websites?  No way.  We just often forget about them because most websites aren’t a habit ,even if they are useful sites.  We’re trying to change that by making our websites a part of your daily habit (Of course, if you want that to be true).  We don’t want to send 10 emails per day and annoy you guys, but we want to make sure you know about anything new so that you at least have the option of checking it out if you want to.

Now, as you probably know, we’re getting into making daily English Learning Videos on LearnEnglish232.com.  It’s hard work, and the point of making them every day, is to get people in the habit of going directly there everyday, because they KNOW that there will be a new lesson.  If people come back over and over again to the same website and use it often, we say that the website is “sticky”.  It’s a useful marketing term.  It sounds simple, but it’s surprisingly hard to make a “sticky” website, even if you put stuff on there everyday, and even if it’s stuff that people like!  That can be stressful, but it’s ok, that’s part of the fun.

Besides making the site “sticky” with useful new content everyday, we need to both help many new people find the site, and stay in communication with you guys.  Email is great, but we can’t go crazy on that.  Facebook is pretty good.  Subscribing on Youtube or Itunes is pretty good too.  But TWITTER?  It should be good, but I STILL don’t know what I’m doing on there.

Well…..  I don’t want to give up and be a quitter, but I do have to admit that I have a lot to learn on there.  Our new Twitter feed only has 16 followers!  HA!  Here it is:  Learn English On Twitter

I’d love your advice and suggestions.  I know that at least some English learners are using Twitter.  Why am I such an idiot?  I seriously get jealous and go crazy when I see other Twitter feeds with tens of thousands of followers.  What are they doing right?  If I tweet our new videos, does anyone care?  What makes people push the “retweet” button?

I don’t want to just beg for Twitter followers.  That is embarrassing and it won’t work.  But I am very curious as to what a good Twitter strategy would be for the new video site.  I want to start using Twitter to connect with fans and find new fans, but I SUCK at it.

I’m kind of laughing while I write this, but it’s true.  If you are reading this blog and you use Twitter, I’d love to hear from you!  Ok.  I’m begging for advice… :(  Embarrassing I know!

Thanks for all your support on both this site and the new video site too guys.  Both sites are growing and Add and I are getting ready to make VIP lesson 200!  It’s going to be a surprise!  I think you’ll really like it.

By the way, if there are any terms, phrases, phrasal verbs, or anything you want to learn, please let me know in the comments section.  I’ll try to make a video lesson on that.  And of course, your comments about Twitter will be a huge help, hopefully not just for me, but for you as well.  I don’t want to keep sucking at it!  You guys deserve better!  LOL.

 

A Few Things for you Guys…

April 20th, 2013

15 Comments »

1.  First of all, a piece of news.  The US police finally found the guys who committed the terrorist attacks at the Boston Marathon.  These guys were brothers who were living in the states for 10 years.  The more I think about it, the more horrible I realize it is.  We talked about this in our latest VIP lesson.  I can understand why many people are upset with how the US government is.  But killing innocent people is certainly NOT the answer.  An 8 year old boy died, as did a female Chinese student, as did another innocent white girl.  Even if these terrorists hated the US government, this is obviously unacceptable.  Sadly, it will be a step backwards in world peace.  Why kill innocent people in any situation?  It just creates more hate and more war.  Sickening!  I hope that someday, this type of thing can come to an end.  I read and can understand the comments on my last blog post regarding this topic.  I appreciate everyone who said something there.  I guess I just really don’t understand what these fools were thinking.  They hate the USA.  Ok, fine, but their answer is to kill innocent people?  For what purpose?  This will just cause more hate and more violence in the world.  Not less.  This is definitely a step in the wrong direction.  There are other ways to show disagreement with a government.  If someone thinks the US government is too violent and selfish, is the answer to do the same thing to innocent Americans?  I don’t think so.  I’m afraid to see what will happen now.  If you guys have any thoughts or comments, I’d love to read them.

2.  VIP Lesson #200 is coming up this week.  Awesome!  Add and I have a special surprise for that.  It should be sweet!  Hint:  Now would be a pretty smart time to get a VIP membership (In case you have been thinking about it.  It’s getting insanely good in there…..)

3.  LearnEnglish232 is off to a great start.  Thanks so much to all you guys who have been commenting and enjoying the lessons.  We’re putting up new ones every day, so getting  in the habit of visiting that site once a day is a wonderful one.  One question:  Any ideas of how to make it more popular?  Have any of you guys told your friends about it yet?  What do they think?  I’d love to know.  Here is today’s lesson (complete with video AND written examples to really help)

Here is the lesson I just posted:  Would love to hear your comments on all this:

Learn English Slang and Vocabulary

Mixing it up!

April 18th, 2013

12 Comments »

I almost NEVER teach grammar explicitly (directly).  I believe that MOST of the time, but not all the time, you can learn most grammar rules through being exposed to proper grammar.

I remember when I was studying “how humans learn language” when I was in university.   It was a 4th year psychology course.  The thing is that humans have a special part of the brain that can learn grammar rules automatically, without having to study them directly.  That is why native speakers who never went to school can usually speak in a way that that is mostly “grammatically correct”.  It’s not always true, but it’s true most of the time.

I don’t even “know” all the grammar rules.  I don’t think about it.  I just know what “feels right”.  That’s from me being a native speaker and from listening to millions of proper sentences and “getting a feel for what is right and what is wrong”.  When I learned Chinese as a second language, I found the same thing.  Of course it isn’t as good as my English, but I still have a feel for what sounds right and what sounds wrong.  We all have that feeling, we just need to pay attention to it.  Studying “verbs, nouns, adjectives, pronouns… is fine sometimes, and sometimes it’s necessary, but there is certainly no need to go overboard”.   Not only is it boring to study that stuff too much, but it’s so hard to remember when it’s talked about in that way, AND it’s slow for the brain to use when speaking.

If I always had to think, “I need to do this with a noun and that with an adverb, except in this and that case, it would take FOREVER to write or speak a simple sentence”.  I think you get my point.

BUT… Sometimes it can be necessary.  I’ve been noticing that many people who write me questions have a really difficult time understanding the differences between “IS and DOES” at the beginning of a question.  Native speakers NEVER make this mistake, so it’s important to learn the difference so you don’t look “uneducated”.  I don’t mean to sound unkind, but when someone reads that mistake, it looks really really bad.

So here I’m going to explain the difference here:  Grammar Lesson – Important Difference Between IS and DOES

Big tip:  Besides using the lessons at China232, I highly recommend getting in the habit of going to LearnEnglish232.com literally EVERY DAY.  We are making new free lessons on there every single day!  It’s a lot of work, but we want to build it into the best English learning site in the world BY FAR for helping serious people take their English to the next level.  Please tell your friends, teachers, and students to get in the habit and join this new exciting site!  And don’t forget about china232.com  We’re still making the best podcasts we can and teaching everything through conversation.

The combination of using BOTh  China232.com and Learnenglish232.com everyday should be INSANE.  Please help us spread the word to the whole world!  Share you success stories with us.

And by the way, Add and I have a special plan for the milestone VIP lesson # 200 next week.  It’s gonna be SICK!  Get ready!