TIVAT, MONTENEGRO – Greetings from a windy and rainy Montenegro.
I’m travelling around Europe before returning to the U.S. for Christmas.
So far, I’ve been to Prague, Vienna, Budapest and Podgorica.
Now I’m at a co-working/co-living house for a few weeks.
I can see the Adriatic Sea from my room, but that’s all I can do.
I seem to have missed the swimming season.
Oh well, more time for Vitamin V and other lessons…
Back in 2006 I was a travelling teacher.
That meant, on a typical day, I would meet five or six — or more! — students, all in different locations and all around Prague.
I might start at Komercni Banka at Namesti Republiky at 7 a.m., and finish at Cafe Grand Orient at 7 p.m.
Those were fun days — I definitely got my exercise — but it seems teaching on Zoom is the way of the future.
One of my gigs (translation: a temporary job) was teaching two days a week at a high school.
Even back then, I stressed the importance of vocabulary.
So every class would begin with a short vocabulary quiz.
And every class, I would take away someone’s quiz and give them a big, fat zero.
Not because he or she didn’t know any words, but because I caught them cheating.
When I was in high school, cheating was about the worst thing you could do.
I guess burning down the school would have been worse, but it was pretty darn bad.
If you were caught it meant immediate expulsion! (translation: you were kicked out of school).
So I thought a big, fat zero for my students was a light penalty.
I guess I’ve always been against cheating.
I think most of our cultures teach us that it’s bad.
How would you feel if your doctor cheated on his/her exams? Or the pilot flying the plane…?
But I’ve changed my mind.
I’d like you to start cheating.
Let me explain….
THE GOOD CHEATING
Is it cheating if you still get the results you want?
But you save time?
Do less work?
And no one is worse off from your decision?
I don’t think so.
If you make $100 an hour and you hire someone to clean your house for $5 an hour so you can rest in the evening, is that cheating?
Or what if your job is to deliver a book to a publisher, but you’re a slow writer so you hire someone else to interview you and write the book for you…
Is that cheating?
Or if you want to walk to the beach, and Google Maps tells you the road is one mile but you find a path through a field that’s half a mile, is that cheating?
I don’t think so.
I think those are smart choices.
So how does this connect to English…?
HOW TO CHEAT AT ENGLISH AND GET FLUENT FASTER
The best way to cheat at English is with vocabulary.
A native speaker knows 20-30,000 words.
Schools tell you to learn them all.
But learning those words is the long way to the beach.
Because a native speaker only uses 2,800 of those words in conversation.
And if you learn those native-speaker words, not only do you save a ton of time, you also suddenly understand native speakers.
I call them Power Words.
And they’re not just a shortcut path, they’re a helicopter ride over the jungle.
Or, you can think of them as legal cheating.