English checklist

Languages ​​are sprawling! A dozen sounds to learn, thousands of words to know, a new grammar to respect… This requires real juggling work. Here’s an infographic to help you see everything you need to know to speak English.



In phonetics

We can also distinguish the following sounds: the vowel /ʌ/ of “love” and the diphthongs /ʊə/ of “sure”, /ɪə/ of “here” and /ɛə/ of “there”. This can be useful if you are studying British English . Respectively, these sounds are assimilated, in American English, to the /ə/ of “dust” and to simple vowels ( /ʊ/ of “wood”, /ɪ/ of “pink” and /ɛ/ of “red”). . This is one of the elements that explains why British English seems more articulate than American.

If it wasn’t already obvious, the International Phonetic Alphabet symbols in computer graphics use a convention: color names for vowels and animal names for consonants. This mnemonic device is used in all my new products. It’s an idea adapted in part from Margaret Horrigan’s excellent work on her Colour-Coded Phonemic Chart .

Obviously, the best way to learn phonetics in English is to do it with sound! That’s why a ton of blog posts contain pronunciation and audio with what is called the PHONOGRAPH ;-).


In vocabulary

A few more examples of word frequency in English , at different frequencies:

  • Function words: although, neither, inside, whose, besides (1000-1999), versus, among, including, below, toward (2000-2999), nor, unlike, therefore, where, hers (3000-3999), whatever , theirs (4000-4999)
  • Verbs: scream, appear, feed, wash, cause (1000-1999), claim, complicate, require, depend, refer (2000-2999), admire, launch, plant, rescue, worship (3000-3999), line, pose , tempt, witness, bitch (4000-4999)
  • Names: gas, partner, pool, charge, plane (1000-1999), value, Bible, clue, suicide, Wednesday (2000-2999), stadium, standard, syndrome, vow, will (3000-3999), hormone, intention , karaoke, maple, psychiatrist (4000-4999)
  • Adverbs: clearly, forward, suddenly, twice, upstairs (1000-1999), officially, further, incredibly, low, accidentally (2000-2999), currently, constantly, awful, surely, naturally (3000-3999), occasionally, properly , desperately, closely, importantly (4000-4999)
  • Adjectives: silly, magic, tiny, public, fast, sexual (1000-1999), wise, necessary, elementary, amazing, loose (2000-2999), spicy, unhappy, intense, confident, silent (3000-3999), insecure , international, steady, broad, brutal (4000-4999)
  • Interjections: whoo, welcome, yo, nah, blah (1000-1999), aha, hooray, boo, bam, duh (2000-2999), goddamn, woo, greetings, whee, shoo (3000-3999), hush, yikes , hiya, Lord, bah (4000-4999)

Source: English word frequency list (Fabien Snauwaert, 2014).

You will also want to learn English vocabulary in various registers  : the neutral register ( neutral ), colloquial ( casual ), English or American slang ( slang ) , the vulgar register ( vulgar ) which allows you to have a flowery language, or again the taboo register ( taboo ) not to be used but useful to know all the same.


In grammar

The problem of grammar always remains the same: it’s easy to do too much technique (being in logic or pure theory and thinking in the form of rules before speaking…) and not enough in practice and communication. A language is however made to be alive!

A way out of this impasse is to focus on the intent behind each grammatical form . If you use this or that form rather than another, it will be to communicate one idea rather than another . Mastering grammar allows subtlety and having the right word. For instance :

  • If you say “Jim was hit by a car.” ( passive voice ) rather than “A car hit Jim.” (active voice) it’s to emphasize the fact that Jim is undergoing the action. The first formula gives the impression that Jim is the victim of the accident and adds a little drama, while the second is rather neutral and cold.

Thinking in terms of intentions (“What do we mean when we use this form of grammar?!”) also helps to clarify the different possible meanings of the same form. For instance :

  • With “It’s so quiet… He must be doing something wrong!” , “must” indicates an inference (“I guess he is doing something wrong.”). In “It’s Monday. You must go to school.” , “must” indicates an obligation (“You have to go to school!”).

Making sense grammar like this helps to work English vividly to communicate.


The following

What did you learn ? What are you going to focus on to pass a course in English ?

The infographic is released under the Creative Commons CC-BY-ND 4.0 license . You are free to use it in your English lessons without permission. Discuss the checklist during your English lessons, with your tutor or with friends who are learning English and with whom you are motivated.

This is the first infographic I’ve created for the site. This one took more than 15 hours of work. Share the article, like it on social networks. If it’s popular, I’ll create more infographics on topics you’re interested in 🙂