How to build your vocabulary.
Many people put a heavy emphasis on memorizing the meaning(s) of words, phrases, or - as we call them generally - expressions. When learning a language, people are led to believe that by just knowing the meaning they will be able to use an expression at the right time and in the right context. Based on our experience, this technique is not very effective for spoken English. It may be good for certain exams where you have to learn lists of expressions and their meanings are tested; but for spoken English, we propose a different approach:
We advise our users to associate an expression with some of its common uses for the purpose of memorization. This is a much more beneficial technique, as the meaning becomes evident by association. Our brains think, imagine and remember in terms of contexts (situations or scenarios) and they help us to form sentences by quickly recalling suitable expressions associated with those contexts. This technique of association helps us form sentences faster and with higher accuracy. Once we start using the learned expressions with a small number of their common contexts, it becomes easier to be prepared for more contexts in which to use them. This strengthens our ability to interact in a variety of situations.
At EnglishLogica, we have prioritised this approach to learning by including a 'How to memorize' section in each of our Expressions Database entries, but our examples also show you how versatile many expressions are. This will help you avoid thinking that certain expressions belong to only one context. More than this, we have marked the popularity of expressions as either 'Medium' or 'High' (we have not concerned ourselves with 'Low' popularity at the moment), so that you will know how often to expect to hear or to use a certain expression.
A lot of focus has been given to idioms in our Expressions Database. Our native English-speaking staff came to realise that their everyday conversations were full of idioms that they take for granted. There are many idioms in our database that you will find particulary useful for professional contexts, but there are just as many that will suit any situation if you learn how, where and when to use them. Our Videos section also features lots of examples of idioms in context, and it is an ongoing project that will continue to grow. You can also check out our YouTube Channel by clicking here. Let us know if there are any idioms you have heard that you would like us to feature.
Collocations are also a hugely important aspect of English, and while they don't follow particular rules, you will come to see that certain words just belong together. Learners can often be confused as to why one word in the expression or phrase cannot be substituted with any other synonym, and there is no quickfire way to learn. As well as entries in our Expressions Database, we have created some useful videos featuring 10 or more collocations that will help you get started. In relation to synonyms, you could read our short write-up dealing with the problems with learning synonyms in English.
Don't underestimate the power of knowing lots of phrasal verbs (verb+preposition). Our phrasal verb entries in the Expressions Database have been organised by the verb and so they can only feature a small amount of examples; but we have also created helpful videos to get you started on this journey of discovery, where phrasal verbs make up a huge amount of the English language. You will find your vocabulary expanding rapidly, as phrasal verbs often have more than one meaning. By learning phrasal verbs, you will get a great idea of the versatility of verbs and prepositions.
Meaning v Context
In summary, we recommend that rather than trying to learn the meanings of lists of words that you might never use - or just rarely use - you should consider the contexts in which you might find yourself when it comes to your English learning requirements. This will help with your recall and make you much quicker and more confident when speaking with native English speakers. Search our Write-up section to find the advice we provide for the intent you need. You might have an interview coming up, or maybe you have to deliver a presentation, or your Performance Review is at the end of the month. Whatever you need, we can help. If there is something we have not covered, please let us know.
Categories: English learning tips