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A Brief Introduction to the Nuts & Bolts of Reaching Excellence in the English Language
1. What Is Excellence?
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle
What is excellence? Excellence is the habit of doing things in a superior manner. This means to produce results that are much better than normal; the normal, or average, level is known as mediocrity.
Excellence is often confused with talent. Talent is your natural ability, independent of education, training, and experience. You do not need talent for excellence. Excellence is, in fact, the result of education and experience.
Excellence is a habit. Those who have excellence, and therefore succeed in life, succeed consistently because they have learned good habits. For these people, success itself is a habit.
2. Excellence in English
“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” – Vince Lombardi
No one needs to aim for “perfect” English. Even the English of the Queen of England is only “perfect” to people within England itself. “The Queen’s English” is strange and alien to English speakers in the United States. Even if we achieved perfection, it would be perfection only to people of one dialect and culture.
However, everyone can gain excellent English. No baby is born knowing perfect English; no baby is born knowing English at all! Excellent English is learned.
It’s simply a question of how.
3. Why Is Excellence Important?
“Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.” – Steve Jobs
We live in an age of globalization. Many non-native English speakers learn English to be able to interact with the global economy, to obtain work, and also, to speak with Americans, Canadians, Australians, citizens of the United Kingdom, and many others. English is spoken as a first language by hundreds of millions, and as a second (or third) language by millions more.
You already know that. What you may not realize is this: many of these people are speaking poor English. This is usually not their fault; the schools and teachers in many countries are inadequate, and the students have little access to native English speakers. That is not the point.
The point is this: excellent English is a competitive advantage in the global economy. Even English that is a little better than average is an advantage over others. English that is much better than average is a giant career advantage.
4. Excellence Is Not Just Fluency
“I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection. Excellence, I can reach for; perfection is God’s business.” – Michael J. Fox
Many people confuse fluency with excellence.
Fluency is being able to speak without effort; that is, without any pauses, stutters, hesitation. Speaking fluently is speaking like water flowing in a river.
A person who uses many words without pause, but who is not using the right words and in the correct order, does not make any sense to the listener. Such a person is “fluent,” but his or her words are like a waterfall: too much, too fast, and there is no proper flow to the words.
This kind of “fluent speaker” is speaking nonsense.
Excellence is about quality, not about quantity.
5. Good English Versus Bad English
“The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential… these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.” – Confucius
So what is good English? Good English is not the same thing as “grammar.”
English grammar is very flexible. A speaker or writer has many choices to make; that is the problem! There are too many choices to make. Non-native English speakers easily get lost when trying to speak English because they do not know what sounds correct to a native English speaker.
Another problem is that many English natives are not very good in their own language! Slang is everywhere, especially on the Internet. Worse, the average native English speaker has no idea how to explain why something is correct or not! They were raised with English; they only know what English others use, whether it is correct or not. So, even if you speak to native English speakers, you may be learning bad English from them!
But, there is hope!
Good English is English that plays with sentence order and word choice to sound interesting and alive. English is a language of action. Good English expresses your thoughts and feelings in a way that is easily understood.
Bad English is English that breaks the rules of grammar (instead of bending the rules a little) and which sounds awkward and strange. Bad English is babble and nonsense that anyone well educated and intelligent will want to ignore!
Good English is very important. Anyone can become fluent in bad English, but bad English makes you sound uneducated and unskilled. Good English makes you sound educated, skillful, competent, and guarantees that you will be more easily understood by the listener. This will make the listener more relaxed, helping you to make friends, win more business, and open doors to success in the global economy.
Good English is not remote; it does not sound as if it is spoken by kings or language professors who do not work and live in “the real world.” Good English is friendly, as casual or as polite as the situation requires, and sounds good to almost all English natives in almost all situations in life.
So, how do you get good English…?
6. Achieving Excellence in English
“Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal – a commitment to excellence – that will enable you to attain the success you seek.” – Mario Andretti
First, you need to want excellence.
No one can force you to want to be better than those who settle for mediocrity. Such people say, “It is too much trouble. I can learn enough English to get by. My English is not so bad. My English is good enough as it is. I do not need to get better.”
How do they know this…? Answer: They do not know. They are simply deciding it must be true because that answer is convenient for them.
Second, you must learn what is good English, and what is bad English. This is where Learn Out Live comes in.
You need teachers who:
1. Know the difference between good and bad English.
2. Are friendly and patient, always willing to answer questions.
3. Are experienced in helping people like you.
4. Who can explain the English language in a way that is simple and makes sense.
Third, you need to practice good English. That is, you need to learn how to forget about bad English; bad English exists across the entire world!! You need to be able to focus on good English and practice it in a way that is relaxing and thorough.
Once again, Learn Out Live is a wonderful solution to your problem. We make learning relaxing, simple, and fun. We teach good English and help you understand what is bad English so that you can recognize it and stop speaking it.
By wanting excellence, learning what good English is, and practicing good English, excellence in English becomes a habit.
This is how even ordinary people can achieve extraordinary results.
7. Learn Real English
“Excellence is the gradual result of always striving to do better.” – Pat Riley
Many websites offer tricks or gimmicks that give you many comforting lies: “You can learn English without effort!” “You don’t need to learn grammar to be fluent!” “Just by thinking in a different way, you can succeed where you failed before!”
Learn Out Live teaches real English: English used in the real world by real people. By learning real English, your effort is never wasted.
Those who say “grammar” is unnecessary are correct in one sense (and only one sense): it is not important to know the “rules.” It is, however, extremely important to learn good habits. Learn the English that sounds correct to educated, literate, well-spoken English natives. Learn how to speak in a high quality way to listeners who demand high quality from you.
With real English, you will be ready for the global economy. With the habit of excellence, you will maintain a high level of quality in your speaking.
With excellent, real English, you will succeed.