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December 2019

Praises for Phrases in Language Education

How to use phrases to learn faster

Open any language learning textbook and you’ll find lessons broken down into similar segments. Often, there is an introductory list of vocabulary for each chapter, followed by grammatical rules, dialogue, and finally exercises. Put together, they are a well-rounded method for learning a language in the traditional manner.

Real life, however, is often less than traditional. While common phrases (“Where is the bathroom?”) are always useful, real life brings with it many phrases one would not find in a traditional textbook, for example slang and colloquialisms. To supplement traditional learning, it’s invaluable to create a process for learning these phrases as well. 

Get smart with flashcards

Flashcards, while boring, are incredibly useful tools for remembering phrases. While they are often used for single words, using flashcards with phrases helps students learn all the faster. This is because phrases include not only vocabulary but also grammar. Whether you prefer online flashcards or the traditional kind, the important thing is that you can easily create and refer back to them.

Whenever you hear a new phrase in everyday life or in media, write down the phrase onto a flashcard for future study. Learning a phrase is more than just memorizing the order of words; it’s becoming familiar with the sound of the language. After you’re comfortable enough with certain phrases, you’ll be better equipped at constructing similar sentences without even thinking; you become accustomed to the musicality of the language.

Focus on slang

Textbooks generally do a good job at teaching proper language and grammar. People in the real world, however, do not always speak “properly”. In fact, polite forms of sentences can often sound very stuffy in everyday parlance. Getting in touch with slang and the language of everyday people is a must when learning a new language.

Movies are a good source for slang, especially since slang often comes from popular entertainment. Film dialogue is dramatic, often over the top, so you’ll get your fair share of colloquialisms. The best method for learning slang, however, is to listen to native speakers conversing amongst themselves. If you have two friends who are native speakers of your target language, listen to them converse with one another and take note of the phrases that are new to you.

Use it or lose it

If you don’t use the phrases you learn, you’ll most likely forget them. Speaking like a native requires speaking as if by reflex. Think about the common phrases you use in your native language. How many of them are reactionary phrases that you utter without thinking? Once you get used to using phrases in your target language, you’ll be speaking (but hopefully not cursing) like a local.

Again, there is a musicality to every language. After much exposure to your target language, you’ll be able to hear the music, the flow, the rhythm of the words and phrases. You’ll be able to hear when a phrase sounds grammatically incorrect, even without thinking too much about it. Of course, all this comes after much study of phrases, which, in and of itself, is a study of grammar and vocabulary.

As the Karate Kid learned martial arts from painting fences and waxing (and un-waxing) cars, studying phrases helps you learn grammatical structures and new words without your realizing it. Reviewing sentences is an efficient method for becoming more accustomed to your target language, allowing you to speak and comprehend with less reaction time.

What are some of the phrases you find most useful in your target language? What are your tips for learning new sentences? Let us know your thoughts on our Facebook Page, and be sure to “like” telc English for more articles on language study tips!