Why can’t I use phrasal verbs and collocations like a native speaker?
Have you ever tried to use these rather confusing pieces of language?
Or do you simply avoid using them in fear of getting them wrong?
Don’t worry most of the students I’ve met, feel this way.
Having a good command over phrasal verbs and collocations is one of the best ways, if not the best way to take your English skills to the next level.
In this post I want to share with you 3 tips to help you use phrasal verbs and collocations like a native speaker.
1. Overcome the fear of mistakes
Most students avoid phrasal verbs and collocations because they fear getting them wrong.
Mistakes are a huge part of our life, and if we don’t start to feel comfortable making them, we will never really progress.
The next time you have the opportunity to use phrasal verbs and collocations use them.
Remember we all make mistakes, never feel like people will laugh at you and judge you for using a phrasal verb or collocation incorrectly.
2. Learn them naturally
How did native speakers learn vocabulary?
Did they study lists?
No, they learnt them through engagement in conversation, reading materials, TV programmes, films and daily life etc.
The point is, that they slowly became exposed to these pieces of vocabulary over time.
For you however, you will first have to accept that native speakers do have a huge head start. But, you can take the natural approach too.
Look and listen for phrasal verbs and collocations whenever you read or listen to English.
Try or to study them in lists or attempt to translate them.
This approach is a waste of your time and efforts.
3. Use them all the time
So, I’m guessing instead of using phrasal verbs and collocations you use the more formal options.
This is OK for lower English levels, but as you progress you need to put more emphasis on higher level vocabulary.
Native speakers never really use formal vocabulary in their general social and home life. They may however use more formal language time to time, but mainly in formal settings. To get a good command of them you need to start using them all the time. In your English classes, online in chat groups, wherever you get the opportunity use them fearlessly.
By starting to use more advanced vocabulary often you will easily overcome the fear of using them, gain the ability to recognise them everywhere and get the feel for how they are used naturally. Make the intention to start using them more often.
Discover more language tips to help you widen your English vocabulary
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Matthew & Becky
Native British Teachers
Online English Skills
We help English learners take their English skills to the next level.