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

Mental Translation And Why You Shouldn’t Do It

Mental Translation And Why You Shouldn’t Do ItMental Translation is reprocessing words, phrases or sentences from the language you are trying to acquire into your native language. When learning a foreign language such as English, students tend to get into their own heads too much and try and translate every sentence, usually word for word. Do not translate! If you want to […]

READ MORE →

4 Things to Remember When Writing an Email

4 Things to Remember When Writing an EmailWriting emails is one of the biggest parts of communication in the business world. They are the easiest way to send updates, keep in contact, and have a record of what has happened. If writing emails is a frequent occurrence for you, then keep checking these four things before pressing send! 1. Clear, short, and […]

READ MORE →

Self-Study from Textbooks

Self-Study from TextbooksMost people think textbooks are boring. They can be. Generally, textbooks are only used in classrooms but why not use them for self-study? The best way to use textbooks on your own: For new vocabulary Make a note of new vocabulary words and do the exercises for them. Try to use one or two of […]

READ MORE →

How To Increase Confidence When Presenting

How To Increase Confidence When PresentingGiving an oral report or a presentation can be stressful. It’s even more stressful when you need to give it in a language that you aren’t 100% comfortable with. Here are some tips to help you with your formal business English and your confidence when speaking in front of an audience. Know and practice the […]

READ MORE →

Top Tips for Studying English When You’re Tired

Top Tips for Studying English When You're TiredPerhaps you’ve got a full-time job and study English as a hobby, or you’re a student with a million-and-one things to do and don’t know when you’re going to fit in your study time. If you’re struggling to find the energy to keep up your English studies, read our top tips. 1. Take Care of […]

READ MORE →