How to sound natural during the exam and why is it even important? Have you ever tried learning things to say during the exam by heart? Forget it! The trick is to make your English sound natural and more native like. Watch the video and check out 5 ways in which you can learn and use real English.


Hello Stanag Experts! My name is Małgorzata Mazurek and this is the third video of the StanagExpert Video Training Series.

Today, I wanted to talk to you about 5 ways to make your English natural. Let’s begin. So, what is a natural language like? What do I mean when I talk about the natural language? This is the language that is used in real life. This is the language that is not rehearsed, not learned by heart, not prepared especially for the exam. A natural language is usually idiomatic and metaphoric. This is a characteristic of a real language used by native speakers and this is the language that sounds natural. Just pay attention to the way you speak in your native language and you’ll see that you do use a lot of idioms and metaphors. And it’s a modern language, the language that you can hear in films, series, social media. It doesn’t have to be a language that is common or simplistic, but it should be a language that is used by real people.

Ok. So what is the way number 1? The way number one is to listen to real English. To be able to use real English, you need to have some resources, a pool of vocabulary and expressions of language, idioms and metaphors that you can take from when you want to use them. So, how to pool these words, these expressions. What I suggest doing is just watching series and serials or anything, for that matter, with a lot of dialogues in it, where people really talk. And the same is true about listening to podcasts. If you listen to podcasts, it’s usually people speaking in a natural way and very often podcasts also contain interviews. And watching or listening to interviews is also a very good idea because this is where people interact, ask and answer questions and use all those functions that are natural in real life conversations. Also, if you prefer reading, for example, reading to discussions in “English-speaking” social media, comments in forums might also be a good idea. Right.

The idea number 2 that may help you in making your English more natural is actually avoiding learning long chunks of statements by heart. It may be stressful because it can make you want to use what you’ve learned and you may focus on trying to use this part of a speech that you’ve mastered or learned. And it can be both stressful and blocking and additionally, it can make you want to change the topic or you can try to change the topic unconsciously, even just to turn into the side where you could use the parts of the text that you’ve learned by heart. And generally, reciting monologues that have been learned and practised sounds artificial and it is noticeable in an exam conversation.

Ok. The way number 3 is learning collocations, idioms and metaphors. In contrast to learning words as separate items in lists, sometimes with translations. So, obviously you can learn words by heart from a list but I think it would be much more effective if you learned collocations, idioms and metaphors in context. So, anytime you learn a new word, you want to remember a new word, record or write down a new word, do it in a concrete context. Instead of learning separate items in lists, learn idioms, metaphors, expressions and collocations from real contexts, such as, for example, when you are watching films, series, listening to things, reading things. This is the real context in which the vocabulary may appear. Also, don’t forget about collocations. What is a collocation? As you can see in a definition here it’s a partly or fully fixed expression, which has been established in use by native speakers who used it repeatedly in context. A good example here would be “fast food” or “crystal clear”. And because they have evolved in real life use, collocations sound natural and simply right. So, I wanted to show you some excerpts from a collocations dictionary that I use and you have the address here As you can see what a collocations dictionary gives you is what verbs, nouns, adjectives go naturally with a given word. For example, here I chose the word “car” and in the first example, you can see the nouns collocating with the noun “car”, e.g. “car boot”, “car door”, “car engine” and some noun phrases used with the noun “car”. The same is true for the verbs, you can “go/travel by car”, “drive a car”, “have a car”, “own a car”, “take the car” etc. You have the list of adjectives as well. So this where you can check what naturally collocates with the word that you are planning to use and this is a good idea also to record collocations of new words whenever you want to write them down.

Ok. The way number 4 is listen and respond. This is also a natural element of a natural conversation which during the exam may be easily forgotten because of stress. Don’t forget to listen to what the second person is saying and then react to it accordingly. A conversation is about exchanging ideas, so make sure you have a chance to change ideas with your colleague during the exam or with the examiner, depending on the exam format. Also, refer directly to what people say. Sometimes, when stressed, during the exam, you may be tempted to say something like “I agree with you” and then change the topic. It is a good practice and a good idea to refer directly and say what you agree with or what you don’t agree with. And then, it’s also a very good idea to say why, justify your agreement or disagreement. It all boils down to interaction and I’ll tell you more about interaction in the next slide, which is about interacting.

The way number 5 is interact. So, how do you interact? How do you make a natural conversation? Show interest and surprise. When somebody tells you something, show your reaction. If it is interest, show interest. If it’s surprise, show surprise. Agree and disagree in a natural way, referring directly to what you agree or disagree with also with the justification that I’ve mentioned before. Ask questions, obviously, to develop the topic, develop the conversation further. And be polite. Don’t forget about all those forms that make your conversation nicer and more polite.

So, if you like this content and you’d like to practise more of speaking and also writing with me, I’d like to invite you to take part in one of my courses. If you’re interested in details and in the offer of the courses online that I’d like to invite you to, just click on the courses tab on my website and I hope to see you there. Good luck with your exams Stanag Experts!

Check out the details of the workshop and see you on Zoom.

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