Build your vocabulary for spoken English


This is a great strategy to help you to build your vocabulary in your spoken English. You can use it when you are doing language exchanges or have English classes.  It works best when you know you are going to have a conversation in English, because you have to plan a little before it.


  1. BEFORE having a conversation in English write a short list of words or expressions (e.g. idioms) that you want to learn and use spontaneously. We would recommend that you write between 5 and 10 words on the list.
  2. You should be very selective. Don’t choose just anything.  Choose words that you really want to be able to use in your conversations.  Think about your hobbies, interests, work and life.  Think about what you typically talk about. Think about how you normally communicate in your mother tongue.  Choose flexible words and expressions that you will use in many conversations in the future.
  3. Then, when you are having the conversation, the idea is that you try to use all of the words or expressions from your list.
  4. We would recommend that you cross out (like this) the words that you use as you are having the conversation.
  5. When you feel that you can use that word spontaneously and comfortably in your speech, remove it from your list and add a new one.


  • The only way to really improve your English and build your vocabulary is to use new vocabulary and structures in a real environment.
  • It’s a great idea to build your vocabulary. Specifically, it will help you to start using more and varied vocabulary in spoken English.
  • It’s a great technique to help you master complicated phrases, such as idioms and phrasal verbs.


This is an excellent technique for all levels.  You just need to adapt the words and phrases to your level and goals.