Developing Vocabulary to Become More Fluent

English is now the language of global commerce and is spoken in every corner of the world. Being able to understand words used commonly by native speakers is essential for good communication.

Many vocabulary items come in the form of "chunks" or collections of words. By learning these chunks you will be able to understand native speakers better and also sound more natural in your day to day conversation.

These chunks can be grouped into three main categories:

(1) Collocations - a group of words that are commonly used together, for example: "human rights, presidential elections, and unemployment rate".

(2) Idioms - phrases that cannot be understood from their literal meaning, for example "It's raining cats and dogs." or "It's a piece of cake."

(3) Phrasal verbs - these are groups of two or three words (combining a verb with a particle) that can only make sense in a sentence when they are taken as a single entity. Examples are: Drop off, profit from and compensate for.

In addition, an understanding of how English words are structured will also help your ability to communicate fluently. English has developed over thousands of years and its roots are a combination of words from famous cultures such as Greek and Roman as well as the indigenous people of the current United Kingdom, France and Germany. Many words are combinations of word stems from these cultures with an added affixes. The most common affixes are prefixes (an additional word [actually a morpheme] that comes before the main stem) or suffixes (which comes after the main stem).

So, for example, if "hyper-" means "very, high and over" then it's easy to understand what "hyperthermia" means (a very high temperature). So, if "hypo-" means very small then what does hypothermia mean then?

A good way to learn vocabulary is by reading. Instead of using a dictionary all the time, look at the structure of the unknown words you come across and then ask yourself if it resembles a word that you already know. Nine times out of ten you will be able to make a good guess and get the meaning.

The next step is to put these vocabulary items into use. One of the best ways is to practice your English conversation with a native English tutor. One-to-one tuition is the best way to do this as you have 100% of the teachers time.