One of the last things that English students learn to dominate are phrasal verbs. There are no phrasal verbs in Spanish so at times they can be difficult to translate. Some more advanced students fool themselves by thinking that they are not necessary and that you can use a standard verb instead.
The truth is that they are a vital part of the English language, not only that but you can even miss out on essential information in a conversation by not knowing them; allow me to illustrate:
- Jose and Maria fell out yesterday = (had an arguement)
- We need to make it up to our clients by offering…. = (compensate for)
- My son dropped out of college = (stopped attending/didn’t complete)
- The manager is always telling his workers off = (verbal punishment)
This is only the tip of the iceberg as far as phrasal verbs are concerned. One thing is to study them, but it is an all different thing to use them in real conversations, this is when you can be sure that they have passed into your active vocabulary. The only way to achieve this, is by working two or three into conversations in each class with a little coaching by your teacher.
The other two main objectives for advanced students in terms of vocabulary should be collocations and idioms.
- We caught a taxi because it was raining cats and dogs! (lloviendo a cantaros!)
- What do you do to make ends meet? (llegar a fin de mes)
- I am fond of Valencia because it has a wide range of restaurants (amplia gama/variedad)
- I gave him a wide berth because he was angry (dar espacio a alguien/algo para evitar una mala situación)
These too can be worked into a conversation, so long as it is done naturally and within the context of the topic. These and many more expressions can be learnt in a more relaxed and friendlier environment by attending one of my advanced conversation clases at Clases de Ingles en Valencia.