There is a point where all people who have learned a second language get to. Their grammatic is good, their pronunciation is proper, and their speech is way more than understandable. They can blend in. They can pitch in front of people and convince them they are doing something great. They can present in a conference and make their point with coherence.

Yet, when they want to express themselves “freely”, without thought, sometimes it’s complicated. It certainly is compared to their mother tongue, their first language.

As a non-native English speaker, it’s for me too. I do think I have an excellent commandment of the English language, but I got to a stage where I can’t feel it’s getting any better. And lots of the issues I’m facing with continuing improving it depends on only 1 single thing…words.

The difference between English and my native languages (yes, plural!) is that I know A TON more words on those. Like at least a thousand or more I use continuously.

A common sense solution to this is to “just study them” or “go learn these”. However, it’s fairly impractical to go and learn those in English since the words I’m referring to were gathered through many years, in very different context, and in many come loaded with many experiences and multiple recall paths.

For example, loads might have learned by reading but later used in social settings. When trying the approach of sitting down and learn, despite spaced repetition and trying to use them, I found out I end up forgetting them or not coming on command when I need them. When in the situation where these would have been needed.

I have identified the problem is they were learned on an artificial setting. That is just studying them. And then transferring these to be used in context is not something humans are good at.

…And it’s a loooot of words to learn if I’m ever going to express myself as spontaneously as I want to.

So I’ve created Wordly to help me with this during winter break.

Wordly basically allows you to save words you don’t know into a lexicon, and once a week sends you 5 of them with the definition and usage. You’re then instructed (or more likely forced) into using those 5 words as much as you can for a week.

… And yes, you need to shoehorn them to the situation.

The best part is Wordly doesn’t get in the way and you can use it in your normal workflow like you would use other Chrome apps like Pocket to store what you want to read later or similar.

I made this for myself and myself only, but some people might find it useful too. I have been trialing it for a while, and it seems to work for me. [Edit] as it seems it works for other too.

Wordly is a tool and there is the need of commitment involved from the learner too. Else it won’t automagically work.

If you want to give it a go, you need to register in the web app and download the Chrome extension:

Link to the webapp

Link to the extension

If you give it a go, let me know how that goes. Same if you find any error. Email to contact me is:

isaac [at] mammbo [dot] com

(Watch out! it’s mammbo with two Ms not mambo with one M :) )