Expand your vocabulary.
As an ESL learner, conveying your feelings precisely is often a challenge.
That being said, expressing your emotions in a way that matches your needs and feelings is a reachable goal.
Working to expand your vocabulary will significantly improve your fluency and confidence in English, and also your relationship with others.
But you might be wondering: why should I work on building my vocabulary if I could get by with a handful of words?
For starters, you’ll express how you feel more accurately.
Think of the impact that your choice of words will have on the listener. The message you transmit will vary greatly depending on the words you choose.
Telling your friend you’re upset because he called off your plans is not the same as saying you’re furious about it, let alone infuriated.
You need to build your vocabulary to diversify the way you communicate feelings and to make sure you’re expressing your true emotions. It’s a matter of linguistic creativity, flexibility and playfulness.
Most importantly, and from an ESL learner’s perspective, improving your vocabulary will help you attain higher levels of English fluency and confidence. This is the benefit of having choices!
What I’m trying to say is: if you have plenty of vocabulary to choose from, you’ll express yourself more confidently because you’ll get stuck less often in conversations. Think of it this way: by having more choices, you’ll also have the ability to reformulate and elaborate more on your opinion or explanation if you need to.
Now to this end, one technique I propose is to get inspired by how emotions are portrayed in movies and songs.
You’ll only need a comfortable place and a notebook!
Feel the music
“How can music help me express how I feel more precisely in English?”
The unique power of music lies in the emotions it evokes: nostalgia, melancholy, sadness, joy, love–music makes you feel all the feels!
Have you ever thought about why music gives you chills? I think it’s because artists are great communicators of emotions. And as English learners, we can take advantage of that to express our feelings more accurately.
So what songs move you emotionally? Maybe it’s time to come up with a new playlist for your vocabulary’s sake!
Picking words from songs is not only fun, but it’s also helpful because the lyrics generally include common and useful expressions, metaphors, and idioms.
You can even sing along as part of your spoken English practice. Isn’t that a fun way to practice?
Get your popcorn ready
Is it possible to combine watching movies and learn to express how you feel more precisely in English?
When I was a student, it worked for me to look for content that mirrored my struggles or experiences. That helped me to enrich my vocabulary in a practical and relatable way.
Of course, being in love was the perfect excuse for a romantic movie marathon. But my point is: connecting images, words and personal experiences will help you retain what you’re learning.
You may think you’re too much of a grown-up for this but, “Inside Out”, the animation movie from Pixar, is a great resource for useful vocabulary.
While watching the story of an 11-year old girl who is having a hard time moving out, you’ll find hundreds of possible expressions you can use to communicate your feelings.
If you enjoy reading, I highly recommend movie scripts. What I like about them is that you get authentic and practical English examples and they’re also fun to read.
Regardless of the strategy or the resource you choose, the important thing is to focus on vocabulary that is actually used by English speakers.
If you want to double-check that, try searching phrases in the iWebCorpus. You’ll get results based on the frequency of the words or expressions. And you’ll also see real examples of the words you’re learning.
When it comes to relevant vocabulary, phrasal verbs cannot be overlooked! Precisely, this article features seven phrasal verbs that will help you express yourself in a natural way. If you didn’t know where to start, I recommend starting there.
And don’t forget to take notes!