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My Fluent Podcast

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Jun 5, 2020

In this episode, you will learn about a method which will improve your speaking abilities drastically. Applying this method on a regular basis, will most likely make you speak English fluently (other languages as well). It's just a matter of time. And all of this, for free. Roberto from Italy, the inventor of the game "off the cuff" explaines the details in the interview.

In addition, this works especially well if you want to overcome shyness or don't have the possibility to speak in your target language.

Roberto started to play the game back in November 2019 and managed to improve his speaking tremendously.

Full transcript below or download the PDF.

Roberto playsing the speaking game of the cuff

More information about the game:

Full transcript:

You make your brain, your mind work in a way, you are unlikely to remember things better in the long term. Okay? And this is off the cuff. Just make your brain work and try to remember just what you know. So this is the best way for me to remember. Words, grammar paths, and so on.

0:31 In this episode, my fluent podcast interviewed a very passionate English learner called Roberto, from Italy who invented a game, a again called off the cuff. Which means something like without preparation, and to be quite honest with you, I didn't know these expression before, so this was a nice side effect. I could learn vocabulary by producing this podcast and quite honest, I was that fascinated by this game. Well, it's more the way. Roberto played it because basically it's about speaking about a random topic off the cuff without preparation. And I watched these videos and it seemed to me that he is quite an expert in it. I mean, without having any preparation, you just start out the speech and you just go on and, and you know that the people will watch that video then... where were we? Well, yes, I was that fascinated by the way he played off the cuff that I took the courage and contacted him, Roberto and wanted to know more about the game and his intentions, or why did he start out with that? And in this episode, I'm going to show you some excerpts from this interview. So without any further ado. Let's have a listen to Roberto:

2: 13 I think, speaking is the most important thing in the learning process. You know that children at the age of six can't even read, but they, they're able to speak. Okay. That's the same… the same goes for a non native speaker, I think. No?  You can study and read in parallel, but at the same time you need to speak obviously. So you are on the, on the best path from this point of view  (by making my fluent podcast). 

2:48 And I was wondering how did you came across this game or this idea of, was it your idea or what was the reason why you started out with this?

I came up with this idea roughly seven months ago because you know. Well off the cuff means on the spur of the moment. Okay. Without preparing anything, because I realized that when I study and then repeat what I have to study, it's kind of preparing an exam. So you have a lot of short term memory, but.

You aren likely to forget in the long period, in the long term what you had previously started. No, but if you make your brain your mind work in a way, you are likely to remember things better in the long term. Okay. And this is off the cuff. Just make your brain work and try to remember what you just watched, you know, of course, in parallel.

Along side, you can keep practicing by studying. Okay, well, vocabulary, grammar and so on, reading or studying, well, there are things okay, but you really have to. So speak to speak and make your brain works from this point of view, if you want to remember straight away at once. Okay. Like people do in their, no more lives. No? I'm not talking about a foreign language in your mother tongue, in your native language, you remember things automatically. You don't need to think over thing. Okay? So this is the best way for me to remember. Words, grammar paths. Okay. And so on. 

4:47 So I guess you could improve drastically  after seven months of practicing off the cuff 

Of course, because, you know, my wife is American, but she's been living here in Italy for 22 years, so she's almost half, it's early. Now, she speaks wonderful each Italian, so we don't need to use English to communicate between each other. But needless to say, I've been to the United States 22 times and. Every time I'm there over there, I freeze. I freeze. Because somewhat the fact that I have studied so much English because I, I have a certificate in advanced English, you know, but all this stuff prevent me from speaking freely.

Okay? So not matter if you make a small mistake with speaking, but you feel embarrassed, too embarrassed, and so I, my playing off the cuff seven months ago, I took the courage to speak,

and I think that my fluency had a great advantage from it because I can speak freely, but this is the aim of off the cuff of this game. Okay. And they started with a game called "random topics". Okay. Topics generated randomly and then I added some other games. Okay. And a couple of games who have been provided by our friends from the chat box  (facebook group) .

Okay. Another two games. It's a kind of a universe. You just have to make your brain work. Okay. And let's say it, there are 76 topics. In the game, and I have already talked about 38 of them are there are also other games. Okay. There's a random translation. For instance, you read the book written, in my case in Italian, but you need to translate it into English.

8:21 There are other game's called the "random rewording" or rephrasing. There's a slight subtle difference between rewording and phrasing because by rephrasing I mean you, you mean to make it better? Okay. But rewording means that you just use different words and grammar, grammar, patterns not to, to interpret the page that you're reading in this case in English. That there is "random pictures" you need to describe pictures and so it's very good for your visual vocabulary. No, because you can get out a lot of words. Okay. That usually usually don't belong to the academic environment. Yeah. Kind of practical English, you know? But also, since these pictures are really weird, you can use your humor to describe this picture.

You can make up a story. Okay. Then it's a, it's very good to. for your personalities. If you are shy, for instance, it's a good way to get over your shyness from these points of view. And if there are other games as well, and this is important for me to get over my shyness because these videos are probably seen by native speakers and a lot of people, and now I'm not embarrassed of my mistakes. Now I make very few mistakes. I, I'm honest, very few at the beginning. At the beginning I made many mistakes. 

8:47 I, I saw that you, you have corrected yourself sometimes. You wrote the mistakes that you have.

Exactly. And I guess that way you could improve as well after you have recorded yourself. Maybe you, your date, some researchers, consulting dictionaries, and then you, you could remember it better. Yes, yes. Yeah. I obviously, I played back the video, especially because I also keep. Track of the words I use.

Okay. Because I want to, I want to get the gist of all the words I use in by playing these games and by playing the videos back, I realize my mistakes. Okay. Because as I was telling you before, I studied English, so I have a certificate in advanced English, so I can. Easily spot my mistakes afterwards. No to real time, obviously.


10:01 That's a really a great approach. A great game here and  you have all my respect because it takes courage in a way. To record yourself and then to publish it because yeah, there are a lot of people who are watching, in my opinion, but the Facebook group, the chat box. It's really a good group because you get a lot of positive feedback and brings you also positive thinking in a way.

Because I myself, for example, I am shy and I don't like to publish something because I am always afraid of the negative feedback. I don't know where that comes from, but I guess it's from, from the school time. Yeah. Yeah. I understand. I understand what you mean. And, and I'm going to tell you that many times I have experienced that in the United States because I need to feel at home.

11.09 I need to feel comfortable. So when there are people kind of taunting me, I mean, that's kind of the, they. They make fun of me, of my mistakes or my accent. So I found these people in the United States sometimes, and so I'm too shy, and so I freeze and I no longer speak. But in the chat box, I found a group of friends.

The Chat box - A Facebook Group intendet to learn Engish together

More than anything else. So I feel comfortable, and I'm not embarrassed if every once in a while I make a mistakes, but I'm going to tell you that most of the time there are not relevant mistakes. You get the preposition wrong. You, you pronounce mispronounce a word, sometimes these kinds of errors that.

From my point of view are perfectly normal because we are not native speaker and we need to improve a lot, but we are showing that we can communicate easily. And so I think by using a good spoken grammar as well, so you don't be shy and you just have to. Realize that in the chat box there's a group of friends and the feedbacks are, most of the times are positive and there are a lot of people encouraging, you know, to make progress.

12:42 Okay, so you just have to feel at home. This is what I found. Okay. The ideal environment. A group of friends. Okay, friends, but they're friends. I think even an absolute beginner can play these games because you improve little by little, so you need to have a starting point. No. You just thought by using what you know, because I myself use what I know.

No, it's off the cuff. Nothing is prepared and little by little step by step, you make progress, but it's important to start. Okay.

13:23 Thank you very much. Thank you Daniel. Thank you.

You were listening to Roberto from Italy and you're listening to my fluent podcast.

Learn from and with a language learner. So for me, the most important things here that in order to learn to improve your speaking, you need to be in your comfort zone. Let me rephrase this. You need to feel comfortable. If you are in an environment which makes you freeze, then you are not going to improve as well.

Berta mentioned you already took the certificate advanced certificate. For some people, including me, Well I don't have a, not long certificate, but the first certificate, but it's just not enough for us because we don't have enough practice. So you could basically start out today by thinking of different topics.

14:41 That could be any topic, but you could choose topics which are related to you in some ways, let's say if you like listening to podcasts, one topic, could be podcasts or it could be football or music whatsoever. The thing is that you just start out, you roll a dice, and then you talk about that topic, and then you can send the file to, to your own language buddies, and by doing this on a regular basis, chances are that you are going to improve and of course you're going to gain more confidence.

Anyways. I can't thank Roberto enough for this because it's not self-evident that people share their knowledge. I'm really thankful for that. And I will say, I'm going to write a blog post as well about the game of the cuff in which I will show you different pictures so that you can envision the idea even better. For that, you may go to Thank you for listening to my fluent podcast and off the cuff is not finished yet. I must say that I played the game and I will play it again and I will share my experience with you on one of the next episode. Until then, bye.

16:48 Thank you very much, thanks to you. What was that?

This was a thunder. Because it's raining hard.

Everything was trembling.

Roberto's first Round playing Off the cuff

Example with the topic WORK. Recorded with the mobile phone

Thank you for tuning in.