Transform your Textbook Knowledge into Natural English

change textbook english to natural englishTake one minute to answer this question honestly about yourself.

“How do you feel about your current English level?”

Are you satisfied? Do you feel like you’ve been at the same level for awhile without any real improvement? Do you feel like you have a lot of knowledge but it’s hard to express what you want to say?

If so, what you may be looking for is how to take your textbook knowledge and convert it to natural English. Here’s how:

I can help you do that.

First, we need to do the most important thing, which is changing your mindset about speaking English. Let me explain…

Most of us have been taught how to read and write English before learning how to speak and listen (including me in my Japanese class). We learned grammar and built our vocabulary but never used the language in a meaningful way; we simply memorized things for an exam.

When we WRITE, we have time to form sentences and we can use our eyes to assist in that process. However, when we need to SPEAK, we use the same process with limited success.

Why is this?

The reason is we don’t have as much time to form sentences and we don’t have our eyes to assist us. But we continue to try and form sentences in our head word by word. In other words, we our ANALYZING the grammar and then CONSTRUCTING sentences how we have been taught to do when writing.

This is very ineffective.

So what is a more effective way to speak with Natural English?

Simply, we need to break the old way of thinking (Analyzing-Constructing) and learn a new approach.

The approach I recommend is first OBSERVING native speech and then PRODUCING English based on your observations (Observing-Producing).

In other words, we put our grammar knowledge to the side (but don’t forget it!) and we listen and note what native speakers are actually saying.


Ask yourself:

“What is the situation?”

“What expressions did they use?”

“Am I using those words and expressions?”


You don’t need to know how every individual word is working with each other. You need to know how common combinations of words (2-5) are used in certain situations.

Once you begin this way of thinking, you will have the ability and potential to rapidly raise your speaking level!

That is exciting!

Don’t delay! Switch your mindset and take action today!

Action Plan: Go to or and find an interesting article.

  1. Read the article first and look up any unfamiliar vocabulary (this is NOT a vocabulary test!).
  2. After you understand most of the article, listen to the audio clip and note expressions and phrases (common combinations of 2-5 words).
  3. Practice reading the article out loud until you can comfortably do it.
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2 Responses to Transform your Textbook Knowledge into Natural English

  1. Sylwia at #

    Hi Al. I love your website and recommend it to all my students. This post here is so true. That’s exactly what I’ve been doing with my English and asking my students to do. (I teach individual lessons with adults). I’m Polish but manage to sound close to a native speaker because I learn in English. I read, listen and watch my favorite shows in this beautiful language only. Because I teach, I have great opportunity to speak English a few hours a day. I encourage my students to get podcasts and watch TED and other websites with great stuff. To go out of the classroom and use English like their own language. And they do, and say they love it.
    I also think many non-native teachers need this practice (being an owner of a language school, sadly, I deal with incompetence from English Philology MAs a lot).
    Keep up the great work.

    I have a website for teachers with lessons and other tools

    • ALsensei at #

      Hello Sylwia!

      Thank you for your kind comments. It’s always nice to hear back from other teachers and learn about what you are doing.

      Sounds like your students are really responding to your teaching and resonating with your message! That’s terrific!

      If you have any suggestions for me or anything you’d like me to discuss or comment on I’d love to hear from you! Just let me know here or feel free to email me anytime:

      I’ll check out your website as soon as I have a chance.

      Thanks again for contacting me and I look forward to future interactions!

      Best regards,