Learning a language based on strict grammar rules and irregular word after irregular word just isn’t a lot of fun. It is also not the most efficient way to truly internalise a foreign language. What has been proven to help you improve your fluency in English is learning with chunks.
This is also the principle EasyRead is based on. We believe (and research proves) that the best way to learn English is if you see words and grammar in context, so for examples you read articles or also just shorter chunks of language.
What are chunks?
Knowing the meaning of a word is a good first step, but knowing how to use it correctly in context is even more crucial. Words can be used in isolation but often form part of an expression, where the original meaning of the word changes. To learn ‘real’ English, so English the way it is used by native speakers in real life, it is therefore important not to just memorise word after word but to learn fixed sets of words as well.
Let me give you an example. Think of the word ‘thing’ and the various ways it can be used. ‘The thing is’, ‘there’s no such thing’, ‘I have a thing for her’ and many more. Just knowing the definition of the word itself which is ‘an inanimate material object as distinct from a living sentient being.’ won’t allow you to know all the other ways the word can be used.
3 Types of Chunks
The first type that comes into your mind is probably collocations. There are several collocational phrases, phrasal verbs and idioms such as the below examples. Try to find the correct prepositions to fill in the gaps:
Collocational Phrase: Driving ______ the influence of alcohol is an offence.
Phrasal Verb: I came ______ old graduation photos when I cleaned my room.
Idiom: I looks a bit like a mean old lady but turns out she is really friendly. I guess you really can’t judge a book ______ it’s cover
Wikipedia actually has a pretty good list of the most common English idioms.
Answers: under, across, by
2) Discourse markers
You probably already know a few discourse markers that are mainly used in written English such as ‘on the one hand’, ‘in conclusion’ or ‘to summarise’ but all these are rather formal and normally not used in spoken English. More commonly used discourse markers in spoken English are ‘actually’, ‘well’ or ‘now’. The more you are exposed to the English language, the more often you’ll find yourself using discourse markers such as:
- By the way
- Sort of
- You see
- I see what you mean but
3) Common expressions
There are numerous chunks like ‘see you later’ or ‘take a seat’ that are often use in everyday or ‘real’ English. If you want to improve your English all the way to fluency, you should definitely learn those expressions as well. The most frequently used ones are:
- All the best
- How are you doing
- Have a nice day
- See you soon
- Excuse me
- Do you mind
If you want to find out more strategies how to improve your English, check out our article 5 Easy Ways to Learn English Faster. And don’t forget to sign up as one of our beta testers at http://www.geteasyread.com to receive awesome launch promotions 🙂