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Native English speakers, whether they come from the United Kingdom, Australia, American, Canada, New Zealand or South Africa will all naturally, and without thinking, use phrasal verbs and idioms in their everyday speech. Unfortunately these words and phrases are often complicated and confusing and are typically used instead of more easily understood Latin root language.
Most vocabulary used in phrasal verbs and idioms is not often clear to the EFL and ESL learner and unfortunately just have to be learned if you want to speak English with confidence, like a native speaker or understand fully your English speaking friends, business associates, clients and customers. Sadly, this is not going to be easy as the vocabulary will often have a very specific meaning, which is often in a very narrow context. For instance, consider the phrasal verb “he cleared off” meaning that “he left quickly and suddenly”. Or “she turned up out of the blue” meaning ” she arrived suddenly and unexpectedly”. When you consider idioms like “it’s high time that I took some more English lessons” meaning “I feel that I really should take some more English lessons now and this need has existed for a long time.” it’s clear to appreciate that the non-native speaker is always going to be at a permanent disadvantage!
Therefore to build your confidence in English it is necessary focus upon improving your passive English vocabulary rather than your active vocabulary. Passive vocabulary is the range of words you understand simply by hearing them spoken aloud or see it written down. Whereas active vocabulary is the words, phrases and sentences you produce when speaking or writing. Your passive vocabulary will always be much greater than your active. However, to expand and improve your passive vocabulary you – try reading more in English.
Finding English books or newspapers locally may be difficult so go online instead and find an article or news story written in English that you find interesting and read it. The first time you read the article, do so without stopping to consider the meaning of words or phrases you are not familiar with. Try instead only to get a general understanding of what the story is about. Then go back and have look at the sentences containing words or phrases that you don’t understand or haven’t seen before, however don’t go reaching for your dictionary just yet! Instead, consider the context and probable meaning of the sentence by understanding the sentences which come before and after it. Then substitute the unknown phrase or word with something else, try a word or phrase you are familiar with and substitute another word, or words, ensuring that the sentence still makes sense.
One of the main things to remember when building your ‘Confidence in English’ is that you may find it confusing and difficult when trying to understand native speakers of English, but you are not alone! It’s a very common complaint from even the most advanced EFL and ESL learner so why not try putting the practical tips above into practice and contact us to see how ETC…English Training Course can do to help you build your ‘Confidence in English’.