English is my second language. I would like to believe that I have a good knowledge of english words (My GRE verbal percentile is 90%). I learn words in very systematic ways i.e. by reading their origin, etymology and history. Hence, I can understand new words very easily by applying similar analysis and some hints from the context.

However, when it comes to using those word in real life conversation, they don't come very easily at the moment. Is there something I can do about it?

closed as off-topic by TrevorD, mplungjan, tchrist, MetaEd, Kit Z. Fox Aug 1 '13 at 19:07

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  • Every time you learn a new word try to use it in a sentence. Keep making sentences of your own for the next week or so. Exercising your vocabulary in other circumstances will become easier – moonstar Aug 1 '13 at 9:12
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    You might get better practical advice for this at English Language Learners. – Bradd Szonye Aug 1 '13 at 9:39
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    This would be a good question at English Language Learners because it pertains to learning English. – MetaEd Aug 1 '13 at 12:22
  • Try to use your new vocabulary words in everyday speech. Or in writing (say in a blog). Or when you go to have your car fixed: "My steering wheel shimmies when I'm speeding down the interstate. How much will alignment set me back?" – Mitch Aug 1 '13 at 13:30
  • The migration was rejected, but I thought it was a good question for ELL. It's true that it's subjective, but it seemed like Good Subjective to me. – snailboat Aug 2 '13 at 2:19

There's a proverb from the medical world:

Watch one, Do One, Teach One

This is an excellent technique for learning medicine: watch a procedure, do that procedure, and finally teach the procedure to someone else.

Transfer these concepts to increase your fluency.

  1. Watch one (Read or hear examples in context and note them)
  2. Do one (Use the word in conversation)
  3. Teach one (explain to someone else about the word: its definition, connotation, etymology, register, and so on).

This agrees with a Latin proverb:

qui docet discit

which means, "He who teaches, learns."

Finally, there is an excellent hack in the book Mindhacker for building vocabulary (and fluency, which seems to be the OP's concern). (I'd cite the page and hack number, but I don't have the book with me.)


English is also my second language so I know how you feel. I first started learning English by watching many English movies and TV shows. It might seem really stupid but it helped me a lot. I also used to watch lots reality shows.

I hope this helps.

  • Wait till you get the privilege to post comments. Else you run the risk of earning negative rep. – Kris Aug 1 '13 at 9:53
  • The question is: "...when it comes to using those words in real life conversation, they don't come very easily at the moment. Is there something I can do about it?" Watching TV programmes is helpful to increase familiarity with new vocabulary, NOT in speaking fluency. – Mari-Lou A Aug 1 '13 at 11:36

You can follow the following ways in order to improve your English:

1) Read books extensively. Just keep on reading; specially story books/magazines/comics, in order to draw your interest to reading. Then you will not only learn new words, but also see them being used naturally.
2) Improve your listening power. When you hear others speaking English, try to register the expressions in your mind.
3) Speak to people in English, at least with your family members to start with. You may be wrong while speaking, but still keep on doing so. This will increase your fluency.
4) When you get angry at someone (and you feel like cursing him/her incessantly), translate the things (dialogues, curses) that you say, in English. If not in front of the person, but do say it definitely at his/her back. This is the fastest way to learn English (though in not a wholesome manner!).

If you maintain a regularity in your endeavor, gradually you will find some improvement.

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