Dear friends,

We’re absolutely thrilled to introduce a course tailored just for you amazing ESL speakers. In your home country, you could do so many things without thinking, but you stepped outside of your comfort zone, literally. That’s admirable and you should be proud of yourself, but we understand adapting to an unfamiliar environment and using your second language can shake your confidence.

If you’re reading this book, your English proficiency is more than enough for daily tasks and one-on-one conversations with your loved ones. Yet, we know that conversational English, especially at community events or family gatherings, can be challenging.

Here’s the thing: Generally, ESL courses progress from beginner level to business or academic settings; their definition of advanced level. There’s a noticeable gap when it comes to mastering daily casual conversations and small talk. Why is that? Mastering small talk is actually a big deal. It requires quick understanding and response in a concise manner or you’ll be left behind. Sadly, many ESL teachers and native English speakers think small talk is meaningless banter so they don’t teach.They don’t realize how hard it is for ESL speakers to participate fully in a society dominated by daily chatter.

That’s where we come in. In our book, you’ll learn how to minimize those feelings of isolation and of course, learn how to express yourself better.

Discover the secrets of engaging in casual talk, and learn how to navigate conversations like a pro. Together, let’s bridge the gap and ensure you feel comfortable, connected, and empowered in any social setting. That’s what any language is for.

Part 1: Your Mental Energy Matters—Harness Your Mental Energy: A Guide to Active Listening

TL;DR (Too Long, Didn’t Read)Focus is key to good conversation; distracted by your inner voice is your kryptonite. Most people want to feel heard and understood. Give them the feeling by asking clarifying questions like “Can you tell me more?” It’ll help you understand their point of view, and also give you time to respond. Remember, you are a multilingual superhero. You don’t have to be understood by everyone. Cherish people you want to be with.

Yes, it’s extremely frustrating when you can’t find the right words, or can’t understand what others are saying. In your first language, of course, you are comfortable chatting. Even if you messed up, it’s not a big deal. You make a joke about yourself, and the conversation goes on. That all changes when you change the language, and it makes you feel incompetent, right? That is really discouraging, and we get that. 

When it comes to conversations, especially in your second language, it’s all about harnessing your mental energy. 

First, let’s ditch negative self-talk. It drains your mental energy and district focus more than you realize. It’s actually easier when you shift your focus from you. How do you do that? Focus on the conversation partner, what they are saying (or trying to say). Our brain isn’t designed to do multitasks. So, when you are focusing on others, it usually quiets your inner voice effectively. It’s like trying to hear a whisper in a noisy room — when you focus on the whisper, the background noise goes down naturally.

Here’s something we often overlook. People want to feel heard more than they want to listen. Obviously, that makes them talk louder, faster, longer. Let’s make them feel heard and understood before agreeing or disagreeing. No, there’s no need to listen to everyone. Pick the ones that resonate with you. It’s usually one phrase that stands out; you start actively listening to the person who said the phrase. Listening well is a hidden art that has few practitioners.

“Yeah, but how?” Yes, we’re going to tackle this. Here’s a powerful tip: ask clarifying questions. Here are some samples: “I’m curious. Can you tell me more?” or “Can you give me an example of what you mean?” or “Let me make sure I understand what you’re saying.” “Does that mean [say what you get from their conversation]?”

These simple phrases show you’re actively listening and valuing their perspective. People usually try to impress others by saying something witty or shifting the conversation. So this approach not only makes them feel heard but also gives you time to respond. This is an advanced communication technique known as “active listening.” It’s also an effective way to gain a better understanding of the other person’s point of view, and think deeper rather than react. It puts you in a position of strength, allowing you to guide the conversation actively. 

And here’s a big reminder: Being an ESL speaker means you have the incredible gift of speaking more than one language! That’s an accomplishment to be proud of, regardless of what anyone else might say. If you ever encounter someone who judges your speaking ability or gets frustrated by your accent, remember this: you have achieved an admirable level of fluency that many people only dream of. You are navigating different cultures, connecting with diverse communities, and experiencing the world in a way that monolingual people simply cannot. They don’t understand your struggle or efforts you made. What they think of you is none of “your” business. You want to use your time with people you cherish.

So, don’t let anyone dim your shine. Instead, pat yourself on the back for all that you have accomplished and continue to embrace your unique linguistic journey with confidence and pride.

Part 2:  Practical Vocabulary Building

TL;DR (Too Long, Didn’t Read)Metaphors are a powerful tool for effective communication, allowing you to express yourself with creativity and clarity. They create vivid images in the listener’s mind, making your message more memorable. For example, Bruce Lee’s famous water metaphor conveys his philosophy in a memorable way. You can use AI to generate metaphors for various concepts, such as accomplishment or the mystery of the universe. Practicing with a speech recognition app can help ensure correct pronunciation

Ready to unlock the secrets of effective communication? Let’s dive into the world of metaphors, a powerful tool that can help you express yourself with clarity and creativity. 

The idea of memorizing a bunch of words you may not use in your daily life is not fun at all. It’s also impractical. This is especially true for people who already know the basics but want to improve their expression. Daily casual communication is not to impress others, but to express yourself effectively. Honestly, no one likes listening to long winding monologues. You want to keep it short and sweet. 

How do you do that? Use metaphors. Metaphors are colorful bridges that connect your ideas and thoughts to your listeners. They paint vivid pictures in their imaginations, making your message more memorable and easy to understand. By using metaphors, you can capture nuances of meaning that simple words alone might miss.

Here’s the Famous Bruce Lee metaphor. “Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash.”

Although it’s not exactly perfect grammar or factually 100% accurate (especially if you used it in an English exam), it still gets the point across really well and does exactly what the speaker wanted it to do. That’s the power of metaphor.

Need some inspiration for finding the perfect metaphor? Don’t hesitate to tap into the power of AI. 

Here are some examples: 

“Can you give me a metaphor for [something you want to say]?” 

  • Can you give me a metaphor for the feeling of accomplishment?
  • Can you give me a metaphor for the process of learning?

“I need a metaphor to describe [something].” 

  • I need a metaphor to describe the harmony in diversity.
  • I need a metaphor to describe the mystery of the universe.

You can ask as many times as you like, until you get the right one for you. Make sure to practice with speech recognition app like https://www.speechtexter.com/ if your pronunciation is right.

Part 3: the Power of Articulation—Daily Speaking Evaluation

TL;DR (Too Long, Didn’t Read)“Power of Articulation—Daily Speaking Evaluation” is a 15-minute exercise that helps you noticeably improve your communication skills. It involves reflecting on your conversations, identifying moments you struggle to express yourself, and practicing better ways to articulate your thoughts using AI chatbots. This practice helps you build a personalized vocabulary, understand your pronunciation tendencies, and discover response structures that suit you. Doing this daily for 30 days can significantly enhance your articulation skills and boost your confidence in communication.

Are you ready to unlock the secrets of effective communication? Let’s delve into the world of daily speaking evaluation, an incredibly powerful exercise used by many professional speakers. They know firsthand how effective it can be in enhancing your communication skills. 

We understand that time is precious when it comes to mastering a new language. While native English speakers have the luxury of gradually expanding their vocabulary as their world grows, you need to be more strategic in our approach. Here’s where the power of articulation comes into play. By focusing on improving your articulation skills, you can maximize your language learning journey and achieve fluency faster. While many native English speakers might not consciously focus on their articulation, it’s a valuable tool that can help you stand out as a clear and effective communicator. By improving the art of articulation, you’ll be able to express yourself with greater clarity. You are also training yourself to think clearly. Your message will be easily understood. You’ll naturally feel more confident in any communication situation.

How do you develop articulation in your busy life? By practicing the daily speaking evaluation. It’s a simple  15 minutes maximum activity. You reflect on the moment when you couldn’t express yourself well. Then, find a better way of expressing it, and practice it.

Yes, we hear you. You might be wondering, “After the conversation is over, what’s the point of bringing up those embarrassing moments? We’ll never have the exact same conversation again. Isn’t it just a waste of my time?”

We understand you. However, by engaging in this practice, you’ll reap invaluable benefits that go far beyond the specific conversation you’re reflecting on. You are improving your articulation skills with some bonuses.

Develop Your Customized Vocabulary Pool: By revisiting your conversations and identifying areas for improvement, you’ll naturally expand your vocabulary with words and phrases that resonate with you and fit your communication style.

Gain Insight into Your Pronunciation Tendencies: This practice helps you pinpoint specific words or sounds that you tend to mispronounce. By addressing these issues, you’ll enhance the clarity and effectiveness of your communication.

Discover Response Structures that Fit Your Liking: Through daily evaluation, you’ll identify response structures that you find effective and comfortable to use. This will allow you to build a repertoire of go-to phrases that you can confidently rely on in various situations. 

When you practice daily articulating your thoughts and ideas effectively, you naturally build confidence.

Sounds good? It takes 15 minutes per day. We recommend you do it daily for 30 days. We promise that on the day 30, you’ll be surprised by how much progress you made. 

Step 1: Reflect on Your Conversations

Take a moment to reflect on your recent conversations. Can you recall any moments where you wished you could have expressed yourself more effectively? Perhaps you stumbled over your words, used unclear language, or simply didn’t get your message across as intended.

Step 2: Seek AI Assistance

Once you’ve identified a specific moment for improvement, turn to the power of AI chatbots. These intelligent tools can analyze your chosen sentence and suggest alternative ways to express yourself with greater clarity and precision.

Here’s an example prompt you can use:

“I will provide you with a sentence and would like you to rewrite it to be more clear and precise. Remove any unnecessary words and redundancies. Avoid any pretentious or scholarly words when rewriting the sentence. If you need to break the sentences into multiple sentences for clarity, please do so. Also, do not write run-on sentences. The sentences should sound as if they are part of a normal human conversation.”

Step 3: Record and Analyze

Next, head over to Otter.ai and create a free account if you haven’t already. This platform allows you to record and transcribe up to 600 minutes of audio per month for free. Now, record yourself saying the improved response you generated with the help of the AI chatbot.

Wait a few moments for Otter to generate the transcript. Then, check the Summary tab first to see if the AI accurately captured your intended message. If not, click on the Transcript tab and carefully review the text. Identify any words that the AI might have misinterpreted due to pronunciation issues.

Step 4: Improve Your Pronunciation

To address any pronunciation challenges, consult a dictionary website or simply ask Google “how to pronounce [word]”. This will provide you with an audio example and a practice mode, allowing you to refine your pronunciation and ensure clear communication.

On the last day, check the recordings you made on the early days. Compare them to the ones you created in the last couple of days. We guarantee you’ll be amazed how your sounds are improved in just 30 days!

Why Use AI Bots?

AI chatbots offer several benefits for improving your communication skills:

  • Ease of Use: They are readily available and allow you to retry different phrasing options until you’re satisfied.
  • Overcoming Oversights: Many people overlook the importance of clear pronunciation, and AI bots can help you identify and address these issues.
  • Preparing for the Future: As AI becomes increasingly integrated into our lives, we’ll be interacting with AI representatives more frequently. By practicing clear communication with AI bots, you’ll be better prepared for these future interactions.

Remember, daily speaking evaluation is a powerful tool for enhancing your communication skills. By reflecting on your conversations, using AI assistance, and practicing clear pronunciation, you can express yourself with greater confidence and clarity in any situation.

Decide For Yourself

Feeling fear is a measure of your sensitivity, but how you deal with it determines your strength.

It’s easy to confuse the intensity of fear with measuring one’s strength, especially since fear can be paralyzing. However, feeling fear can actually be helpful because it indicates that you are attuned to your emotions and aware of your environment.

By recognizing your fear, you can make better decisions that allow you to take control of the situation. It enables you to respond in a way that you will feel proud of.

Some people say “Do it scared!” And to an extent, I agree. It depends on each situation, obviously. But a good friend once told me that if I feel scared and excited at the same time, it means I should go for it. I’m glad I followed her advice.

Take care,

“Yo, go back to China!”

Hearing “Yo, go back to China!”, especially during the pandemic was sadly not an uncommon experience. When faced with such comments, I wouldn’t just reply with “I’m Japanese American” because it only shifts the direction of prejudice towards other Asians or people of color. Whether I’m from Japan, another country, or even another planet, far, far, away, it should not matter.

This experience made me wonder: why do some people prioritize their own freedom while dictating what others should do? They probably have no idea what it feels like to be stereotyped and blamed for something they have no control over, such as skin color or the shape of their eyes.

It’s scary to think that I could have been on their side. When I was in Japan, I was part of the majority and entitled group. I could have unknowingly made racial comments or been unaware of how it feels to be on the receiving end of such comments.

The truth is, when you’re part of the dominant group, it’s easy to overlook the privilege that comes with being part of that group. We need to be more aware of the impact we have and take responsibility for our actions in any situation. And this is one of “easier said than done,” but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t aim.

You found me, and I’m so glad!

Hello all,

Thank you for finding me! 

As you know, Twitter has been unstable. I fear one day my account get suspended by mistake (mine or theirs, who knows). 

Twitter has allowed me to learn, share and connect with amazing people like you. Thank you, and I love you all!

For now, I’m on Post: https://post.news/misakouroco

December 18th, 2022
A sad day to see so many Twitter friends are leaving, and I didn’t say proper goodbye. 

This is my Twitter cover

Maple Leaves, Tanuki, and Unshared Oops

There was a guy in line ahead of me with a maple leaf on his head. I hesitated to tell him about it–I mean, it was a big leaf! Surely he knew that, right?
It reminded me of Japanese folklore–those tricksters Tanuki Raccoons can disguise themselves as humans by putting leaves on their heads. Um… Could this guy be one of them? Then, he’d turn into a raccoon if I took the leaf away. So… should I let him keep playing his trick, just for now?

Oh, wait… this is just a small, local post office in a rural town… I’m probably the stranger here as a human. Oh goodness, could that actually be true? Am I the only real person here and about to get hoodwinked?! Is that security camera for catching woodland imposters, and they’re watching and giggling at me now? Waa?!

“Oops,” the guy said as the leaf tumbled off. I said “Oops” too, but for a different reason altogether!

Aptly named, Big Leaf Maple grows in the Pacific Northwest

Squid Pro Quo

If I were to open my restaurant, the menu would include:

-Sip Back & Relax: a glass of bubbly w/ a tapas plate

-You’ve Goat This: goat cheese salad

-Squid Pro Quo: Daily special; something fishy & tasty

-Endless Pastabilities: pasta with your choice of sauce & protein

-Dessert: Thanks for Pudding Up With Me

*people who know me would know how happy I am right now* I love word pan and cooking.

Take care,

Cliché but True

I got heavily sick recently, and I struggled to maintain an optimistic perspective. Resilience is my strongest asset; it caught me surprised. The usual inspirational quotes and stories of grit simply did not resonate with me in the way they once did. I felt weak, drowning in a haze of sickness day after day. My mind and ability to motivate myself seemed limited. I was discouraged by how difficult it was to feel better, both physically and mentally.

The lessons were painful, but they were lessons nonetheless. Oh, how easier it is to complain and blame everything, including myself, instead of trying to stay afloat! Criticizing yourself gives you the false satisfaction that you’re analyzing the situation, but it will only make you feel more stressed and anxious.

We all have good answers inside. We’ll have to remind ourselves that it’s okay not okay from time to time. It can take time to heal and rushing it by criticizing ourselves won’t help. While determination fuels progress, compassion propels us home. It is so cliche but it’s true — There is always light on the other side, even if you cannot see it immediately. Keep going and you’ll see it as long as you don’t quit.

Take care, everyone.

With love