How to Improve Your Vocabulary

We often get questions from our students on how they can improve their vocabulary. So in this week’s Facebook Live session, I shared 10 ways to help you with this.

When people say they want to improve their vocabulary, they actually mean they want to improve their active vocabulary.

There are two types of vocabulary: active and passive.

Your passive vocabulary includes all the words you recognise when reading or listening, but you are unable to use them confidently on your own.

Your active vocabulary includes all the words you can comfortably and confidently use when speaking and writing.

So if you want to expand your vocabulary to speak fluently, focus on turning your passive vocabulary into active vocabulary. This was the first tip that I shared in the session.

If you missed the live session and want to know the rest of the tips shared, you can watch it here. I also share recommendations and personal insights in the video.

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Phrases to Sound Polite in Email

In our Facebook Live session today, I shared 40 phrases to help you sound polite in email.

We may not even notice that we sound impolite in an email until after it’s sent or somebody points it out!

This is because:

1) English is our second language so we may tend to be more direct in writing, and

2) when we write, people can’t hear our tone of voice and may interpret straightforward language as rude or impolite.

Watch the replay of the session here.

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How to Overcome Your Fear of Speaking English

Do you have a fear of speaking English?

​​If you do, you’re not alone. Many second language learners have this fear. We’re afraid that our mind will go blank, that we’ll make grammar mistakes, or that people will judge the way we speak.

But don’t let that fear stop you from speaking.​

On Tuesday this week, I went live on the My English Matters Facebook Page to share 10 ways to overcome your fear of speaking English.

You can watch the replay of the live session here.

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A dedication for our dear brother-in-law, Madam Azimah’s husband

On Sunday, 14 March 2021, we lost Madam Azimah’s dear husband, my brother-in-law, Abdul Majid Hafiz.

He died of a sudden heart attack at a hospital in Kuala Terengganu.

It was a shock to all of us. We did not expect him to go so soon.

As I write this post, it’s been less than a week since we lost him and so the pain is still fresh in our hearts.

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How to Address People in Formal and Informal Settings – Part Two

A few years back, I got in touch with one of my high school teachers on social media.

When I told him to say hello to my favourite English teacher back in Manchester, he said, “I’ll be sure to tell Sheena McGowan.”

Her name is Sheena? I thought. I never knew! What a lovely name indeed!

I’m very conservative so I can never imagine calling Mrs McGowan by her first name! She will always be Mrs McGowan to me.

In today’s episode, which is part two of How to Address People in Formal and Informal Settings, I talk about the differences between addressing teachers and lecturers in the UK versus in Malaysia.

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How to Address People in Formal and Informal Settings – Part One

I received a message the other day from an old friend. After catching up on life, I then congratulated him on completing his PhD.

I said, “Congratulations! So it’s Dr Fadli now, isn’t it?” (not his real name).

He replied, “Thank you! But please drop the title!”

It’s great to be able to be informal with friends and peers. It’s equally important, however, to know when it’s appropriate to be formal. This is about being respectful.

In this week’s video, I taught ways to address people in formal and informal settings. 

Watch part one here.

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Phrases to Use in Group Discussions

Have you ever attended a group discussion and felt bad because you could not contribute to it confidently?

Maybe you felt overwhelmed and didn’t know how to begin the discussion or interrupt the flow of ideas coming back and forth!

Yes, I have been there myself. Sometimes I had nothing much to say, I was ill-prepared or worse, I just wasn’t listening to the discussion at hand!

Listening and contributing to a discussion go hand in hand.

That’s why in this week’s live session, I taught simple phrases that you can use to be actively engaged in a group discussion. You can watch it here.

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5 Ways You Can Train Yourself to Think in English

Back in my corporate days, I had a friend, Linda (not her real name), who I had lunch with every day.

Our first language is Malay, so as we enjoyed our steaming rice and chicken curries under the shade of a hot zinc roof, we would laugh and share stories in Malay.

Back in our (freezing cold) air-conditioned office, we didn’t speak to each other much because we were in different departments. We were our professional, English-speaking selves when it came to work.

The language used for communication in the office was English so it was normal for us to write and speak to other colleagues in English. 

One time, Linda called me up to ask about something related to work. Since we were used to speaking Malay to one another, we started the conversation in Malay.

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