How to Learn Useful Phrases

In English, there is a large number of fixed phrases and expressions that are sometimes not easy to understand, but they are very useful, even necessary. These phrases are a part of the cultural heritage of a nation, present in the speech of most people in one region and they are often not a part of the lexical fund of a language.

Applicable phrases are those expressions or whole sentences that sound natural, and you can use them in a variety of situations. I will give one example – the phrase “That sounds good.” We can use this sentence when we decide to which café we want to go, which movie to watch, when a friend tells us about a new job,  or someone invites us to dinner and says what they will prepare for us.

Often overlooked is the fact that a rich vocabulary consists of using individual words and full phrases. These phrases are especially important to English learners who start later in life. Older students devotedly practice grammar and try to remember independent, singled out words, but in communication, they constantly get shut down because they lack natural expressions. In contrast, those who have learned English through cartoons, computer games, movies and music, know and use these phrases, which makes others feel like the speaker is advanced when, in fact, students who learn like this often struggle with grammar. By saying this, I am not trying to say one method is better than the other. Moreover, both types of students have their advantages and disadvantages. Successful learning is when you take those advantage of and minimize the imperfections.

Now, instead of trying to translate this expression in your head and lose valuable time trying to decipher each of its parts, focus on the sentence in its entirety – say it out loud as a whole a couple of times and I guarantee it will be easier for you to remember it this way.

There is a lot of these phrases and they are all around you – in the texts you read in a textbook, even in language exercises for grammar and vocabulary, and, of course, when talking to those who know more than you. It does not only have to be a teacher, but also some of the students from your class. You just need to be open to the idea that the language is all around you and it is waiting for you to casually pick up useful little things one at a time. And of course, you cannot immediately learn them all – one to two phrases a week, or even a month, is quite enough.

They will also help you to learn to translate less frequently and they will also strengthen your language ego – you will feel better and more successful in communication.

About the Author

Milica Madić, freelance blog/article writer from Serbia, with experience in teaching and working with young learners.

 


Related Posts

English Conversation Starters

English Conversation StartersDo you want to speak in English but you don’t know how to get started? You’ve made the connections, but it can be difficult to actually start the conversation. Making what is called “small talk” is an excellent way to improve your English because it gets you used to everyday conservations in an informal way. […]

READ MORE →

English Learning Tips for Advanced Students

English Learning Tips for Advanced StudentsOnce you get to an advanced level it can be tempting to just skate along. After all, at this level, your English is probably very good and you understand grammar in a way that most native speakers can’t match. But even at this stage, there is still a lot to learn. 1. Focus on the […]

READ MORE →

ESL Learning Tips for Intermediate Learners

ESL Learning Tips for Intermediate LearnersOnce you’ve moved up to an Intermediate English level, this is where the complexity of the language becomes clear. At this stage of your learning, you need more advanced strategies to help you overcome your more complicated learning issues. Talk to native speakers. Chances are that you will start learning English from someone who speaks […]

READ MORE →

The Beginner’s Guide to Learning English

The Beginner’s Guide to Learning EnglishWhen you’re just starting out learning English, there’s a lot to learn and the idea of it can be daunting. To make it easier, there are several strategies and tips that can take you from beginner to talking in no time. Set goals for your learning. The purpose of your learning can determine what part […]

READ MORE →

Text and Message Like a Native

Text and Message Like a NativeThese days, most communication comes via technology and social media. This means a lot of texting and messaging! Just like what probably happens in your own language, when sending messages in English, there are lots of slang and shortened ways of saying what you mean. Here you will learn the most common of these. That […]

READ MORE →