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Two days ago I was riding on the Berlin train on my way home from a Communication Conference.

There beside me were two Arab-looking men with one of them playing some kind of music.

I listened closely and it brought me back to my months in Saudi Arabia.

In fact it was the sound of wailing from the mosque calling  Muslims to prayer.

Now at the right time I love to hear this daily sound, so common in Islamic countries.

It makes me think of a whole population turning their attention to one shared interest in the sacred.

But on this train at this time I just didn’t want it; my mind was full, and I didn’t want the distraction.

I could also see how this might annoy others.

Certainly there are many who have learnt through the media to associate Islam with violence and terrorism.

So for some passengers even a quite symbol and sound of Islam might be upsetting.

So I approached the two men and asked them to turn off the sound.

At first my German got no response so I changed to English.

I then pointed out the rules and the impact of the sound on other passengers.

Most importantly I told them that direct communication about problems is an important sign of respect in German culture.

It is not an invitation to fight, but actually an action for peace.

For Germans direct feedback shows our belief, that the listener is capable of receiving feedback.

It shows our belief that the listener will not freak out, and that the listener can change their behaviour.

By also showing my familiarity with Islamic culture I was also able to relax our interaction.

 

It was only then that they admitted their refugee status, coming from Syria just a year ago.

Indeed it was clear to me how much stress and trauma still remained in them after their harrowing experience.

And I was also moved by their willingness to adjust to German culture and to the language.

I told them to ask Germans to speak in a slow simply way, like talking to a very small child. But of course with respect.

I told them that this is the fast way to German, and not via books, “I have bought three books on German, but it is very hard”.

Indeed showing respect in all our intercultural communication is key.

As they got off the train, I had to decline their passionate invitation to join them for tea.

Maybe next time?

 

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This is Globish, this is Female Power, and this is now

(Written 95% in Globish, the standardised simpler form of English.

It is a true story from Sri Lanka. And do please check your mind at the door……)

Ten dusty hours on a packed bus, a long farewell, little sleep, and I drag myself onto the early-morning flight to Mumbai.

Last on the plane with a splitting headache, I find my seat.

With bearded men all around in skullcaps and Kurtis, a woman offers me her aisle seat.

Full of words and smiles she chooses to begin that wonderful dance……..a simple conversation.

Her first words have little meaning, except in this moment right here, right now.

Who is this woman? Where is she from? What is her culture?  Will those men approve?  Is her seat companion her mother, her sister? How old is she?

And how may I serve Her in  this moment?

My mind needs no answer, as we bring the other ever deeper, ever higher, sitting in Seats 30 D and E.

‘Cosmic’ is too small a word for this.

Within minutes we delight in our lived love now of the non-dual Absolute and meditation (my words) and of God, prayer and Jesus (her words).

Call it what you will; we know it doesn’t matter.

We speak, only to give words to what IS.

Being together breaks our hearts, our eyes showing tears again and again.

God finding Himself/Herself/Itself through human form.

Of course! Why ever not!

Exploded open by weeks in the purest serendipity (the experience of an unexpected happy accident) in this lucky first country of ‘Serendib’ Sri Lanka, I carry her presence with my gaze.

I as man, fully in my Manhood, delighting in Woman.

My open-ness holding her open-ness.

I am fully me, yet reborn: fully man, yet fully shaken loose.

At least for this one moment today on this plane I am able to be me, to be Man, and to open to her Feminine Power.

I am Man and she is Woman.

We are this, and also much more than this.

We know it!

And we know that we know it.

But this is all not for me.

Dear Lord, no not for me.

But for Her.

Her Feminine Power, in her way, but seen finally SEEN by Man.

No holding, no plan, no grabbing, no harrassment, not even within this little male mind.

Yes guys, miracles can happen.

It is indeed sometimes possible!

I know that she knows, that I know, that she knows, that…….

The divine dance plays through our simple humanity.

And yes we can also fully share the wonder of all this in words.

Nothing hidden, nothing held back.

A stranger meeting a stranger?

In such open and understood intimacy?

We share finely detailed words, yet going far beyond any idea in our minds.

We talk of the slowness of our words, when higher understanding comes through us, in ways that make us think of Globish.

This is Heaven on Earth.

The roaring Divine, and also within Man and Woman, right here right now breaks our hearts open again and again. It is all far too much, but we find ourselves able, to hold This……..together.

My stranger on a flight to Mumbai turns to hug me, as a worried look flashes across her mother’s face. And I respect this special Indian mother, able to trust her daughter’s Heart.

In two hours our flight is done.

We have given everything, held nothing back, broken all ideas, at least for this one moment now.

My final words, as a sometimes heart-open Man, speak of her Female Power in this woman’s century: “Woman, I see You!”

Once again her beautiful Indian eyes open yet wider with joy.

In Mumbai Arrivals we three bring our hands together, we bow in that special Indian ‘Namaste’ to the God within each one of us, and they are gone!

I shiver with happiness as I write these words.

Thankyou ‘RT’!!

(Over 95% of the words here are in simple English, called GLOBISH.

Less than 5% of the words are outside of the 1500 standard words of Globish.)

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Communication Confidence comes first!

Before Language Competence.

(An Integral analysis, according to the 4-Quadrant model of Ken Wilber)

This should make you feel great about your communication in second languages, like English.

I want you to pat yourself on the back, and feel good about yourself!

What me?

Feel good about my communication in English?

For many this is very hard to imagine.

You will also understand the potential of second-language communication to reveal deeper structures and processes within ourselves.

This is different in many ways from our first language.

It can even be fun! Indeed, you might even become excited at this prospect, as you imagine your proud position as a global citizen at home in a global language, far larger than the inevitable confines of your beautiful mother Russian.

The Problem with schools

So if you don’t feel good about your English right now, then I say blame your school.

Yes!

Blame your school.

In many ways schools are a recipe for failure regarding ‘foreign’ languages.

This same problem also continues for many attending adult language courses.

Back in school your teacher loved, or was forced by the system, to give you tests.

If it was a second language like English, then you got a test about vocabulary and grammar.

How many words do you know?

How correct is your grammar?

Very often the answer was either right, or definitely wrong.

In other words, the system mostly takes a binary materialist approach to the very complex phenomenon, which we call communication.

If you went to a top-class University, then teachers also made you give a presentation, or take part in an artificial discussion. This is the best to be expected from even the most cutting-edge school.

So I define all of this as falling under the term ‘Language Competence.

In short, what a student can produce under the artificial constraints of a school test.

This is of course not wrong per se, but I argue it falls far short of an appropriate way of learning second languages. Learners expect to learn to communicate in English (for example), and instead they are given a limited version of Language Competence.

So school English in most countries concerns itself with the artificial production of words and grammar in written form. If we went to a very good school we also had the chance to speak in a very limited way with the teacher, or perhaps with your classmates. In the terms of the Four Quadrants of Ken Wilber, we can see the limited focus: vocabulary comes under the top-right Individual Exterior Quadrant of observable items; grammar comes under the bottom-right Collective Exterior Quadrant of structure behind observable items; and (if we went to a very good school) communication is practice in the bottom-left Collective Interior Quadrant.

The Integral Perspective makes the difference

For those already familiar with the Four Quadrants, the problem is already clear:

Schools make no reference to the upper-left Individual Interior Quadrant.

In other words, school education gives no importance to our thoughts and feelings.

Can you see the huge problem with this approach? It’s like trying to make a car go fast by just giving new paint to the car, without opening the hood and fixing the engine! That would be insane, but in schools this happens most of the time. If the metaphor isn’t clear: the outside of the car is what we can observe ie. words and grammar, but the mind is the engine of communication.

Perhaps you can now see that your current results in communication in English or other languages should be blamed more on your school education, and not on you.

So optimise your mind through self-awareness for the challenges of second-language communication, and the positive results will inevitably follow.

Shared understanding is the goal in communication, not correct language

But why do we communicate?

We communicate for a result with another person.

We communicate, to achieve shared understanding with another person.

A baby cries, because it is hungry and wants milk.

It communicates its hunger to its mother, she understands, and responds.

The baby is happy with a full belly.

So communication is the achievement of shared understanding between two or more people.

It is a system in which all parts, including all participants, must make the necessary contribution.

The challenge of successful communication must be solved in a systemic way, and schools do not teach this.

Let’s consider many politicians and lawyers.

They nearly always have excellent command of their words and grammar.

They can choose many different ways to share their message.

But does this mean that we always believe them?

Of course not.

So Language Competence does not guarantee success in communication.

The proof of this is shown in the many millions around the world who falsely believe that “I’m just not good at languages”, while saying or thinking this in perfectly correct form in their mother tongue! The irony is clear.

We can see that success in communication requires yet another factor: believability.

We need to believe in ourselves and we need to believe in our message.

This self-belief is an example for the listener to follow.

So successful communication also requires coherent authentic self-belief.

Even self-belief and the resultant believability are not all the requirements for successful communication. We also need the ability to listen.

If we cannot listen then we will soon find no speaking partners.

We must listen so well, that our counterpart believes that we are listening.

So how can we listen?

We can only listen if we are genuinely present in a conversation.

If we are distracted then our audience knows it immediately.

We must choose to be part of a conversation.

These factors are even more important in the challenge of second-language communication, and thus benefit greatly from optimal self-awareness in real-time.

Listening requires being present, but how?

Should we lose ourselves in total concentration on the words of our conversation partner?

Perhaps, but this is not a sustainable long-term solution.

Just as important is to listen to ourselves also; am I distracted right now, or tired, or do I experience other problems?

Most importantly we need to listen our own very deep inborn readiness within ourselves to communicate, or to learn to communicate.

If we are conscious of this then we can listen without any form of prejudgement, or prior belief.

Does this sound too hard?

Actually it is available to you right now.

It is how you learnt your own mother tongue.

You simply listened, and tried to copy.

When it worked you did it again in the same way.

Communication Confidence comes first

So this kind of intensely curious but innocent attention is still available to all of us right now today.

We can access it through our own personal contemplation within ourselves, or through dialogue with a skilled professional, like a Communication Coach.

For some the idea of self-awareness is difficult to imagine; how can I be aware of my own mind?

For them the First Quadrant is a dark country, with their thoughts and feelings only vaguely visible.

Indeed some find it hard to know at all what they are thinking in any particular moment.

In 2014 I created a simple five-minute test (the TISL TestSM) to show learners’ their own mind.

This has been successful with over a hundred learners without exception.

It is an assessment tool, but also very helpful for your own learning.

Immediately participants can see, if they are thinking in the target language, or still in their mother tongue.

For some this experience can be literally life-changing.

For the first time they understand self-awareness within themselves.

This can have explosive results! This also has the secondary effect of allowing a participant to have access to the tools to change their mind-state in real-time. Over time they learn to optimise their mind for the very different challenges of second-language communication.

Within just a few hours online, or in person, we can rediscover our own master talent in communication.

I call this inborn native talent our own Communication Confidence-Identity-BeingSM.

After rediscovery this Confidence is always consciously available.

It is not a feeling, nor an action, but a deeply-residing fact about our true nature as human beings.

Again, this must be true, or it would be impossible to learn any language at all.

This Confidence gives us the ability to take the first step.

It is completely different to our Language Competence.

Even in our first language we know that our expression and articulation changes constantly.

Our Language Competence changes depending on our energy levels, or the pressure of a social situation in a job interview or a business negotiation, or our first date with someone new.

So imagine how much more extremely our Competence changes in a second language like English. It is like skating on thin ice; we are always at risk of misunderstanding and of falling through the ice.

The solution is the practice of real-time awareness of our constantly changing Language Competence, combined with mindful connection to our own constantly abiding deepest Communication Confidence.

Perhaps this all sounds far too theoretical.

To counteract this impression I have uploaded some of my conversations in different languages.

I want many millions more people around the world feel able to communicate in an international language.

So I claim I can have a conversation in any language without any preparation with words and grammar.

You heard that right, no prior vocabulary at all!

I hope to have a conversation in Russian very soon.

And the objective proof is when the other native speaker confirms that it was indeed a conversation.

So far I have done this in Georgian, Arabic, Japanese, Maori, Chinese and many more.

You can find the link at the end of this article.

I show that a strong connection with our natural inborn human Communication Confidence is enough, even with zero Language Competence!

Summary of the Integral Approach to communication in a second language

So we can see that an Integral approach to communication in a second language should be far more effective. An Integral approach of course includes words and grammar, but also transcends this old approach. At all times it focusses on the goal of communication: real-time shared understanding.

An Integral approach to effectiveness in second-language communication requires the following:

  • vocabulary, but presented in the realistic engaging context of real communication (I-Quadrant and We-Quadrant)
  • grammar, but nearly always presented for short periods as part of a real conversation (Its-Quadrant and We-Quadrant)
  • practice of authentic personal communication (We-Quadrant)
  • discussion of the successes and failures of communication in real-time (We-Quadrant observation of We-Quadrant processes in We-Quadrant)
  • most importantly, self-awareness of our own internal processes during second-language communication. (I-Quadrant experience of I-Quadrant). This is the most important factor of all!We discover our own inborn human Communication Confidence. You mastered your first language by yourself, right? The same is possible for a second language. I

    In fact it leads to the ultimate goal: Bulletproof Communication ConfidenceSM

  • finally, discussion of our own internal processes together. (We-Quadrant observation of I-Quadrant)Very often we find that an experienced professional, or even others in the group, can help us a lot to optimise our mind for this huge challenge of second-language communication

After fourteen years of work with clients I call this the Integral BE-in-English ApproachSM

But it can be applied to communication in any language, even your own.

Imagine travelling to New Zealand.

On the last day of your wonderful holiday a bee stings your tongue.

It hurts like hell, your tongue starts swelling up, and you start feeling very bad with an allergic reaction. Then you get on your plane and fly home.

Arriving in your home-town your best friend phones you, to ask about the flight.

At that moment you literally cannot speak!

Your tongue is so big, that it can barely fit in your mouth!

So your Competence in conversation is zero.

In that moment you cannot speak your mother tongue at all!

So here’s my question:

Would you doubt your identity as a speaker of your mother tongue?

Would you feel that you had stopped being part of this group of people?

The answer to this story, based on my conversation with hundreds of clients, is always the same; despite zero Competence in communication at this moment, we don’t doubt our native-speaking identity and ability.

Why?

Because our Communication Confidence in our first language is deeper and more established than anything we can say, or not be able to say.

So understand your own inborn Communication Confidence, which is prior to any language.

Then your success in a second language like English will increase dramatically!

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How big is your home? 

It’s all about context……….

Image of the earth thumbnail

 

 

 

I don’t mean the size of your apartment or house.

I mean the size of the physical space and time of your own individual life.

I am talking about context.

 

A small child has a context of Mama, Papa and his home.

But over time our life grows and expands, to include friends, school, and much more.

 

So how big is your home?

How large is it really?

 

Let’s consider some options:

  • Your own home with Mama and Papa
  • Your city
  • The national context of your country?
  • Internationally, including more countries?
  • Globally for the whole planet?
  • Cosmically including the whole universe (a scientific context)?

 

Let’s also think about time.

How big is your sense of time?

  • Just today?
  • Up till New Year’s Day 2016?
  • Next year?
  • The next ten years?
  • The life of modern Homo Sapiens (“wise human”) of 200,000 years?
  • The scientifically proven age of our universe (13.8 billion years)?

 

If we think and feel small, then every wave rocks our boat.

Then every wave feels so big.

So every feeling, every idea, every new information shakes us.

A lot!

Happy, sad, happy, sad, happy, sad……..

 

Small contexts are really okay, and are of course very important.

But bigger contexts give us more ROOM.

More room makes all change less stressful.

Then we can relax.

 

So choose your context carefully.

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Confidence in communication wins over competence

I have a confession to make:

I have become a teacher of German.

And my Berlin-born wife is completely shocked!

Yes it’s true.

I now have an ongoing official paid gig as a Communication Coach/ Learning Mentor for an American immigrating to Germany.

He is a raw beginner, and for sure my German grammar needs improvement.

So what is important here?

The size of my German vocabulary and the correctness of my grammar?

Or the rediscovery of his own inborn Authentic Confidence/IdentitySM, but this time in German?

If he wants better-spoken German I can refer him to many German teachers.

And for sure I will.

But I want him to feel his communication in German from the inside.

When he says, “Ich spreche Deutsch”, I want him to feel it.

 

Here are the results from our first four in three online calls over the last week:

  • First call: five minutes only in German
  • Second call: fourteen minutes only in German
  • Third call: nineteen minutes only in German
  • Fourth call after just eight days: 21 minutes

Sounds easy?

We did this with no, nada, zilch, null preparation in German words or grammar.

That’s right: zero preparation in the language.

Of course I have the proof with recordings.

How can that be?

School tells us we need vocabulary lists and grammar books for language-learning, right?

Wrong!

 

Everyone reading this blog is living proof, that no school technique is necessary for learning a language.

After all, everyone reading this blog learnt their first language by themselves.

In other words, to learn to communicate we already have all the readiness, all the interest, all the imagination, and all the confidence.

Whatever inside ourselves supported our first communication with our mother can also help us our communication now.

 

So I call this our inborn natural Authentic Confidence/Identity.

All I asked my American is to give all his attention to me.

I asked him to be relaxed and to do the best he can.

But it’s my job to do all the rest.

I need to speak clearly and slowly, and  I need to tune in to him.

It’s incredibly hard and intense work, similar to running a very fast 1000 metres.

In essence I have to improvise to follow his understanding, without any preparation.

Just like a mother does with deep love for her child.

What did we talk about in our longest conversation?

We talked about a rocket going from the Earth to the moon with astronauts inside, and then the landing on the moon.

Yes, it really happened.

Quote:

I never normally experience so many ‘Ah-ha! Moments”

The best kind of communication is an open experiment, right?

I will keep you informed on our progress………..

BONUS

Here’s a link to my conversation in Chinese.

No introduction, no schooling, but a real conversation.

My conversation partner Viktor from Macau, China confirmed it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWRoI6xs2xY

Join my channel on YouTube (look under ‘Mo Riddiford’ and my Channel),

and you will get more videos from me regularly.

 

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I have a confession to make:

Conversation outline of two happy people

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have become a teacher of German!

And my Berlin-born wife is completely shocked!

 

Yes it’s true.

I now have an ongoing official paid gig as a Communication Coach/ Learning Mentor for German.

It’s for an American immigrating to Germany.

He is a raw beginner, and for sure my German grammar needs improvement.

 

So what is important here?

The size of my German vocabulary and the correctness of my grammar?

 

Or the rediscovery of his own inborn Authentic Confidence/IdentitySM, but this time in German?

 

If he wants better-spoken German I can refer him to many German teachers.

And for sure I will.

But I want him to feel his communication in German from the inside.

When he says, “Ich spreche Deutsch”, I want him to feel it.

Here are the results from our first four in three online calls over the last week:

  • First call: five minutes only in German
  • Second call: fourteen minutes only in German
  • Third call: nineteen minutes only in German
  • Fourth call after just eight days: 21 minutes

Sounds easy?

We did this with no, nada, zilch, null preparation in German words or grammar.

That’s right: zero preparation in the language.

Of course I have the proof with recordings.

 

How can that be?

School tells us we need vocabulary lists and grammar books for language-learning, right?

Wrong!

 

Everyone reading this blog is living proof, that no school technique is necessary for communication.

After all, everyone reading this blog learnt their first language by themselves.

In other words, to learn to communicate we already have all the readiness, all the interest, all the imagination, and all the confidence.

Whatever inside ourselves supported our first communication with our mother can also help our communication now.

 

So I call this our inborn natural Authentic Confidence/Identity.

 

All I asked my American is to give all his attention to me.

I asked him to be relaxed and to do the best he can.

 

But it’s my job to do all the rest.

I need to speak clearly and slowly, and  I need to tune in to him.

It’s incredibly hard and intense work, similar to running a very fast 1000 metres.

In essence I have to improvise to follow his understanding, without any preparation.

Just like a mother does with deep love for her child.

 

What did we talk about in our longest conversation?

We talked about a rocket going from the Earth to the moon with astronauts inside, and then the landing on the moon.

Yes, it really happened.

Quote:

I never normally experience so many ‘Ah-ha! Moments”

 

The best kind of communication is an open experiment, right?

I will keep you informed on our progress………..

BONUS

Here’s a link to my conversation in Chinese.

No introduction, no schooling, but a real conversation.

My conversation partner Viktor from Macau, China confirmed it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWRoI6xs2xY

Join my channel on YouTube (look under ‘Mo Riddiford’ and my Channel),

and you will get more videos from me regularly.

 

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Thermometer - Confidence Level

CONFIDENCE WINS!

#1

I spent a fascinating, but frustrating, evening last week with some top professionals.

It was an intimate gathering in Berlin of publishers and writers focussed on English-language teaching. From all over Germany they came; from editors of the excellent ‘Business Spotlight’ magazine, to Cornelsen the publisher, to Pearson “the learning company”, to authors of over twenty books. Certainly I couldn’t question their commitment.

 

We were all focussed on one question:

how can we help our students and clients upgrade their effective communication in English?

But the solutions were all about competence.

Level of competence is generally regarded as the amount of words, the correctness of grammar, and the ability to communicate in a very limited way in the very artificial environment of an exam.

But what about confidence?

 

After all, what use is knowledge, if you don’t have confidence?

 

Every day I meet adult professionals ashamed to speak English.

They have the knowledge, proven by their success in all their exams in English.

But they choose not to speak.

A few weeks ago a newly-married couple from Taiwan stayed in our apartment.

The woman worked in export, and the man was a civil engineer.

While the woman was very confident in her English, the man literally couldn’t say a word to me.

The wife explained to me, “We in Taiwan are very good at passing exams in English, but not in speaking!”

Similarly an advanced speaker of English from China told me of her frustration, upon arrival in New Zealand. She tried to talk, but lacked the confidence to request clearer words from the mumbling Kiwis.

The result was of course failure.

 

Without confidence we will too often experience failure in communication.

 

Too often we will decide that we are simply no good at languages.

Does this sound like you?

It doesn’t have to be this way.

 

I define confidence here as Authentic Confidence/IdentitySM

It is our own deepest innate inborn identity within ourselves.

This gives us the energy and ability to begin to learn to communicate.

It says, “I am, and I can”.

It is the foundation of all communication, from birth to our adult conversations today.

 

In fact this Confidence/Identity is the foundation for any communication, even today!

 

Just to be clear: I am not talking about an emotional state of positivity, nor of positive mantras or visualisation. Rather I am referring to a reality within us. This is pre-verbal.

For many people this is unconscious, but we access it every time we speak.

Through our own engaged interest, or through sensitive dialogue with a communication professional, we can make this power present and available to us in any conversation.

 

So what is your your relationship to your life?

What do you feel about it?

Do you feel proud of your communication in English, or ashamed?

Do you deeply feel “Oh dear, I will never be good enough.”

 

Or rather, à la Obama, “Yes, I can!”

 

Look hard within yourself.

Or talk with others about it.

The right professional support can also change your communication very fast.

For sure you can indeed find this deep feeling of being fully at home, right here, right now.

Yes you can, in a foreign country, in English, or in anything else.

 

People, this is your birthright!

<smile>

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Love letter after the Paris attacks #2

With billionaire Brian Chesky, co-owner of AirBnB and host Francesca Bassani (REDUCED)

 

 

 

(Photo of me and AirBnB billionaire co-owner Brian Chesky, and host Francesca) 

Today let’s discuss another kind of love: chosen love during communication.
Read on for a special prize at the end!

 

As mentioned in my last Post, the seven terrorist attack in Paris meant that I spent a very tense and uncertain seven hours in a café/bar just kilometres away.

We set up guards around the bar, and could only leave at 4AM.

 

But I want to speak of another love I found in Paris.

 

This time I want to speak of the love of communication, especially in a second language.

If love is present, then communication naturally follows.

And yes of course romantic love helps a lot!

But is there another more conscious more chosen path of love in a second language?

Or would I join the crowds around the Louvre, unable even to say, “Merci beaucoup”?

 

So I was keen to test out my very limited French in a different way.

 

First I need to give a little background.

As some of you know, my passion is second-language communication, and especially for those not native to English. Every day I talk of the greater importance of confidence over competence in all communication. Confidence is the deep knowledge that we can learn to communicate.

Whereas competence refers to the more exterior tools, such as the size of our vocabulary in a language, and to the correctness of our grammar in a language.

Sadly, schools normally only assess competence.

So my competence in French is based on just two things: my very limited couple of years of French in school in New Zealand forty years ago, and my knowledge of English words with French roots.

But my feeling confidence in relation to French is very high indeed.

 

Such a moment was an excellent test.

Did my technology, the BE-in-English ApproachSM, really work for me too?

Would it be successful like it always works with clients?

What would be my experience as a learner, and not as a coach?

 

So I am thrilled to report that I experienced a big shift in communication in French.

 

There was a great leap in my actual use of French with people all over Paris.

I didn’t feel even a little bit of embarrassment about my very ugly French.

No shame!

From moment to moment I found I could switch from English or German to French.

I found I had access to far more of my passive vocabulary in French than ever before.

No thinking, no preparation, just speak.

 

So let’s examine this in more detail.

I found that my attitude towards in the first 24 hours was very important.

I came ready and excited to test myself.

In other words I felt tuned into the country, and to the language.

I was aligned within myself regarding my destination.

 

Again this was not a question of my knowledge of French, but my attitude.

 

I also chose to identify myself as a French speaker.

Very limited, but a French speaker nonetheless.

With this deep feeling within myself I found I could connect with everyone around me on the streets of Paris. I felt a part of their French world, and so I felt able to reach out.

 

So I see this as a kind of love.

 

But it wasn’t a love, that was begun outside of myself.

Rather I felt a deep love within myself.

It was a sense of connection so deep that it included myself and also those around me.

It was a sense of ‘I am‘ (actually ‘je suis’ in French) within myself, and also a sense of ‘We are’ outside myself with the people of Paris.

For me this chosen connection, or attitude of love, with the French made all the difference.

 

Clearly this success is not based on any school idea of vocabulary and grammar.

 

Finally I want to finish with a story.

So far I can’t explain it, but maybe you can.

On the first morning I woke into that dreamy state, half-asleep and half-awake.

Lying there I found myself thinking only in French.

I felt allergic to any thought in English or in German!

I thought in French, I felt French, and maybe for a moment I was French!

 

So is this another kind of love?

SPECIAL PRIZE!

Count all the words with French roots (for example ‘example’ and ‘connection’).

The person with the most correct number wins a FREE 45-minute CONSULTATION WITH ME.

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The Paris Attacks – a love letter from ground zero

Notre Dame cathedral after the Paris attacks

Greetings from Paris, home of Notre Dame Cathedral, the city of love.

Yes, dear reader, love.

 

But last Friday night I found myself trapped in a café/bar with seventy other conference attendees.

Tense and uncertain, we listened to the horrible news of killings just a few minutes walk away.

This was real!

One, two, three, four, and even more……………news of the repeated attacks just didn’t stop.

Some cried, some relived their trauma from the siege of Sarajevo, some wanted to run away, some stay glued to the news on their smartphones, some shared their batteries, some stood guard around the café, and some were ready to make good decisions for all.

Most importantly we took care of each other together.

We survived the night.

That’s love.

 

In the café we were part of a conference of six thousand AirBnB hosts from over a hundred countries.

We are all part of a very new business model.

We invite strangers into our homes every day.

It sounds crazy, but it works.

In the last month my family has had guests from Korea, China, New Zealand, Germany, the United States, Singapore and more.

We speak English and I try to speak their languages.

We come together from all over the world, and we turn strangers into friends.

That’s love.

 

After the attacks, just two days ago, I sat in silence in the Grand Mosque of Paris: so simple and so still!

A timeless place to rest.

I then walked past a bridge, groaning under the weight of locks both small and huge, completely covered from one end to the other, testifying to couples’ eternal love in this the City of Love.

That’s love, baby.

 

From there I walked just a few steps to the great imposing presence of Notre Dame Cathedral, implacable in the face of unknown danger.

So old, so many stories, so much faith in the face of never-ending change.

And thankyou France and the French language for the words ‘imposing’ and ‘implacable.

You have given English so much.

Is that not love?

 

Shrouded in a faint evening mist, closed and guarded by gun-toting soldiers, this old French church somehow moved me deeply.

I’m not ashamed, I’ll admit, I did cry a tear.

What is that, but love?

 

So I sit in a café opposite the cathedral, here in glorious Paris, writing this to you.

 

So can we find a common language of understanding amongst all nations and all tribes?

I believe Slow EnglishSM is some tiny part of the solution.

I believe we can all practise speaking slowly and simply enough, to be understood.

I believe we can all get better in our listening.

I believe even the English-speaking peoples of the world can learn this!

 

For me, this is my labour of love.

 

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Seth Godin is one of the most famous bloggers in English.
He is a specialist in wisdom, and in marketing wisdom.
I recommend subscribing to his regular short and simple blog posts.

Here is one his recent blogs.

Can we talk about process first?

It’s so tempting (like you really want it!) to get straight to the issue.
Especially since you’re certain that you’re right.

The challenge is that organizations and relationships that thrive are built to go beyond this one discussion.
They are built for the long haul, and this particular issue, while important, isn’t as vital as our ability to work together on the next hundred issues.

So yes, you’re probably right, and yes, it’s urgent, but if we can’t agree on a process to talk about this, we’re not going to get anywhere, not for long.

If the process we’ve used in the past is broken, let’s fix it, because, in fact, getting that process right is actually more urgent than the problem we’ve got right now. Our meta-conversation pays significant dividends. At the very least, it gets us working together on the same side of a problem before we have to be on opposite sides of the issue of the day.

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The case for Slow EnglishSM, and especially for native speakers

How many people speak English worldwide?
Half of the world?
A quarter?
I don’t mean full competence by any means.
Rather I’m talking about the ability to conduct a simple practical conversation; to get and give simple directions, and to share simple information about with others.

The current estimate of half-way competence in English is approximately 13%

So the vast majority of the world might speak multiple local languages, but cannot speak the one truly international language of English.
In other words, most people cannot participate in the one language with the potential to be global.
Allow me to back up.
As a native speaker it’s easy to come across as arrogant, when we discuss the growing dominance of English. In my own case I’m a native speaker from New Zealand, but five years each in the States, Australia, England, and now Germany.

Certainly there are more native speakers of Chinese and Spanish.
Even Hindi and Arabic come close to mother-tongue dominance over English.
But English is far more distributed amongst many more countries and cultures than any other language. China has far more native speakers, but just 10% non-native speakers.
On the contrary native speakers of English number just one quarter of the total number.2
Furthermore English’s worldwide presence amongst the powerful – the leaders, managers, opinon-makers, scientists and journalists is far higher. In fact the network effect means that by nearly every measurement English is way ahead, and with an ever increasing dominance.

In short English has won the battle for global dominance.
It’s over.
Deal with it.

Now before any reader gets too complacent, the picture is actually much more nuanced.
This trend will disadvantage the monolingual, and even worse the monocultural, English speaker. Without lived experience of this more complex world they risk bringing an unexamined much simpler world-view to communication that is now necessarily far more complex.
More success will accrue to those more comfortable in this new global context.

We can read about global complexity and multilinguality, but imagine living it in one’s own mind.
Imagine a life in which one must decide moment to moment which language to think in!
That’s the complexity for the majority of the world.3
But not for those still most dominant in world power structures.
Any bilingual understands this point intuitively.

But for me it was a total shock.
I had never left NZ till I was twenty years old, but had then lived in four other countries (Australia, the United States, and England) till I was forty-one. I considered myself an international sophisticate.
However the shock of mastering German, while living in Berlin, finally forced me out of my monolingual complacence.

I understood that the cultural appurtenances (think Oktoberfest, Lederhosen, and the Berlin Wall) were not minor eccentricities cloaking a deep commonality. On the contrary a different linguistic/cultural worldview is indeed a profoundly different Weltanschauung.

So the old assumptions of how to get along with one’s neighbour are out, never to be replaced.

As many multinationals now understand, the highly competent non-native speaker simply communicates more effectively. They have gone through the stages of competence in English in a conscious way, and so can now adjust more intuitively to the communicative needs of their counterpart.

And so we come to the case for Slow EnglishSM.

Without Slow English we will simply never have the necessary global communication platform, with one reliable international language, to address current highly complex global problems.
The necessary global diversity of voices aren’t joining this emerging global conversation.
We native speakers are not hearing enough fast enough from sufficient perspectives.

I discovered Slow English in Hungary in May of 2014.
There I heard the most beautiful English of my life.
Certainly its vocabulary was not the most extensive, nor the pronunciation the finest, and undoubtedly its grammar needed constant polishing.
But this Slow English was highly sensitive and highly effective to the needs of the conversation.

There in Budapest I was at the first Integral European conference with over 80% non-native speakers of English. We had come together to bring ever more perspectives into one over-arching framework, and of course in real-time during communication.
One essential perspective is to notice and respond to our speaking partner’s level of English.
Can we carefully adjust to our perception of the other’s changing understanding?

In short, can we learn to adjust to the linguistic and communicative competence in English of our partner?
This is the key question at the heart of Slow English.

It sounds easy but can be very challenging in practice.

This summer I attended an event in Germany with over a thousand participants, mostly from Germany.
Three Americans spoke in English to the audience, all highly-respected world-class communicators over many years. First came Robert Masters, whose carefully succinct answers were impressive.
He didn’t overload, but he still spoke too fast for too many.
Second came the world-renowned Deepak Chopra, whose speed and scientific terminology even challenged the translator, for those who were listening by headset. ‘Orifice’ anyone?
Finally came Tami Simon, the founder of SoundsTrue, whose colleagues speak of her measured cadence.
Many told me later how disconnected they felt from the first two, and just how impacted they were by Tami’s slow simple words.

So native speakers need to practice this.
And also many non-native speakers!

We all need to practice conscious adjustment of tempo, complexity and articulation according to the needs of the moment.
This sensitive attention counts a lot with non-native speakers.
Then we can be surprised how many more people are ready to speak with us.
Yes we can easily do it with small children, but it can also happen in a very respectful way with adults.
Let us consider the profound ignorance, or even arrogance, of the native speaker of English who refuses to tailor their English to the ear of an immigrant.
An artificially adjusted accent, more in the middle of the Bell curve of accents, does not take away the identity of a guy from Brooklyn, Glasgow or a hundred other places!
In Germany we call it Hochdeutsch (High German), and it’s standard practise for the Swiss or someone from Stuttgart. Thank heavens for someone like me!

A non-native listener has probably struggled for many years with English.
But too many are still not ready to make a little effort in this regard.
I suggest this is neither reasonable nor sufficient in a world riven by misunderstandings at all levels.

We can choose.
Learn the ways of Slow English.
Learn to adjust our English to talk to a complex world.

Or continue to reap the wrath of the current clash of languages, cultures, and civilisations.

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15 ways to be a world-class language learner    

  1. Ignore any self-doubts from your school-time. You already learnt your mother tongue, right?
  2. Feel your own interest in other people right now. Imagine their point of view.
  3. Listen to any foreign language, like it’s a new-found friend. Surprise yourself; you might just understand something.
  4. Stop judging yourself. Play!
  5. Speak just one word in another language today. Two words tomorrow. You get the idea…….
  6. Listen with all the love in your heart. It could be the start of something beauuuuuuutiful……
  7. Listen not just with your ears, but your intuition, your life experience, your eyes, your whole being. Sometimes it helps!
  8. Listen, copy, listen, copy, listen, copy. Repeat.
  9. Practice sounding like an idiot. A lot.
  10. Speak before thinking. A beer or two can help.
  11. Connect! Start with body language, if no words come.
  12. Try try try try and try yet again. Even the smallest success makes you want to jump for joy.
  13. Pat yourself on the back for every tiny success. However small.
  14. Expect huge amounts of misunderstanding constantly. Smile and enjoy! (You won’t die.)
  15. Seek out people speaking other languages, at times when they have more time to listen.  The local laundromat, bus stops, trains, old people’s homes……..
  16. BONUS: Avoid grammar books and vocabulary lists for as long as you can. Babies don’t need them, and you don’t either.

A foreign accent is a sign of bravery” – Amy Chua

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Can you think in a second language?

Do you dream of thinking in English, if it’s not your first language?

Do you believe this is difficult for you?

Do you think you need to go and live in another country first?

Read on!

I am going to show you a Test that:

  • immediately reveals your own thinking to you.

  • you can use with your friends

  • takes less than five minutes

  • can be used for English (if it’s not your first language) or for any other language

  • is free (for your own private use)

  • has just four outcomes

  • starts any learner on the path towards greater self-awareness of their own mental processes

  • is always 100% successful for you

We have all had the dream at some time of thinking in another language.

We have all tried to imagine what this means.

We somehow know that thinking in another language is worth it.

We feel that this is an important stage in the journey to second-language success.

You are right!

When we think in another language we are BEING in another language.

We take on a new identity, without losing our first identity.

We understand faster, respond quicker, and feel more at home.

Imagine a computer.

If a computer runs very complicated software, we know we must shut down all other unnecessary software.

We all learned this very early in our time with computers.

So it is with second-language communication.

Talking with someone in a second language demands every mental resource possible.

It is not possible to communicate in a second language like in our first language.

So mental translation wastes our limited capacity in our brain.

Instead we need all of our brain for the new language, and very little for our mother tongue.

So what is the TISL (Thinking in a Second Language) Test(SM)?

In late 2014 I was working with clients online when this Test simply emerged as a tool.

I suddenly realised that I could test my clients’ brain nearly directly!

Here’s how this Test works:

  1. Find a partner who can speak your first language to a medium level, and also your target second language (for example English).
  2. Make sure you have a minimum of five minutes
  3. If you have time and the ability, try talking for a few minutes in the second language
  4. Choose one of you to give the Test
  5. Choose one of you to take the Test
  6. The test-taker should then close their eyes
  7. The test-giver should then choose some objects or pictures from around the room. Please do this quietly, so the test-taker cannot guess the object via the sound.
  8. The test-giver holds the object or picture in front of the other person’s face
  9. The test-giver says to the person,

    Please notice the first word in your mind when you see the object.

    Please say the first word in your mind.

    There are no wrong answers.

    All answers are correct.”

  10. When the test-giver is ready with an object or picture in front of the other person’s face, then say, “Please open your eyes and tell me the word in your mind”
  11. The test-taker says the word in their first language or in another language
  12. Both participants can then discuss the result.
  13. The test-giver can ask about the test-taker’s state of mind upon seeing the object or the image.
      1. Did you immediately know the name for the object?
        1. YES.

          Then double-check with the participant for the actual language of the word

        2. NO. Then ask the questions below…..

          Did you have to search for a word?

  • NO, then stop.

  • YES, then ask:

    Did you search for a word in your first language or your second language?

  1. This normally starts a lot of discussion and the interest to do the Test again!

  2. Repeat at least three times

  3. Swap roles if you have time

There are many people who find it hard to recognise the language of their thoughts.

However this TISL Test works for nearly anyone.

It works the best if you can take some time beforehand to:

  • listen carefully to a song in English (or another second language)
  • watch a movie clip in English (if you are not a native speaker of English)
  • read some text in English
  • talk with someone in English

There are only four outcomes possible, but all represent 100% success.

They all show our human ability to notice the state of our own mind – in other words, self-awareness.

The four possible outcomes are:

  1. The name for the object/picture appears in the person’s mind in one’s mother tongue
  2. No name immediately appears in the person’s mind, but then they search for it in their first language
  3. The name for the object/picture appears in the person’s mind in the second target language
  4. No name immediately appears in the person’s mind, but then they search for it in their target language (for example English as their second language)

Again, each outcome still represents full success.

However the most ideal outcome is not the third but the fourth option.

This result shows the person that they still think in English (or any other target language), even when they don’t know the right word. This is just like in a real conversation which always involves some level of missing words and misunderstanding. We are always busy using other words to explain our intended meaning. This work to achieve shared understanding is a kind of emotional pressure. It’s pressure because we all want to be understood during a conversation.

So ideally we want to respond to that pressure by remaining at home in the second language, without returning to our native language. If we can do this then this is proven ‘Bulletproof Authentic Confidence’(SM) in a second language.

Of course it works the best if you can talk with a native speaker of English, and certainly with a professional.

What are the results?

For nearly every participant this begins an internal process to understand their own mind better.

They understand in a conscious way how their own mind works.

They start to see what state of mind is the best for second-language communication.

This sounds complicated but it’s not. We all know that we are different people when we are talking with a good friend, or when we have to cross a dangerous street. In one we are relaxed and very open. In the other situation we are focused on the goal of survival. Over our whole life we have learned to function differently in different situations. And so it can be with second-language

Using the TISL Test many times over weeks and months has a big result for learners.

Their own awareness of their mind changes and adjusts to the challenge of second-language communication.

This conscious awareness accelerates the learning process.

This is simply not possible if we only think about words and grammar, as something outside ourselves.

Thus confidence in English (or any other target language) quickly grows beyond all previous imagination!

The TISL Test is very new.

As far as I know it does not exist anywhere else in the world.

I am the inventor and the owner, but anyone is free to use it.

Please acknowledge my open copyright.

Please tell me about your results!

You may reach me Mo Riddiford via:

+49 178 522 8110, Skype mo-riddiford,

or www.effectiveINenglish.com

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This simple video explains why new technology in education never works as promised.

It all comes down to the old technology: a willing learner with a caring teacher.

The video argues that learning is a social process.

I agree!

I am finding out more and more that learning is a conversation: it occurs between the learner and the teacher/coach/mentor/parent, but also it is a conversation with ourselves.

A committed teacher helps us to have this conversation much better.

So have a look!

It has subtitles too.

http://www.iflscience.com/technology/why-has-technology-not-revolutionized-education

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I am constantly praising my clients for their natural inborn ability in communication.
I call it “Authentic Confidence”.
Combined with our work together it becomes “Bulletproof Authentic Confidence”.
Sounds good, right?

Most of my clients come with the belief that their second-language communication is no good.
Yet somehow they learnt theit native tongue all by themselves, simply through contact with the language.
So I love to compare the limitations of a dog with the natural talent of a human regarding communication.
Notwithstanding, here’s a link that suggests dogs can understand up to 200 words.

I hope you will then appreciate dogs more, but also appreciate yourself more!

Wishing you every success…..
Mo

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