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There comes a time when you need to "take the bull by the horns" and go "full speed ahead" with your English in the real world. At the risk of sounding "like a broken record," you must practice, practice, practice and practice outside of the classroom everything you have studied and learned in the classroom. Then one day "out of the blue," the realization will "hit you" that you're having a conversation in English and you are being understood just "as clear as a bell".

Idioms are expressions used and understood in a given language, but their meaning cannot be taken in a literal sense. Americans use idioms in everyday speech without even being aware that they're doing so, and most Americans are "in the dark" as to the origin of idioms, but that's "a horse of a different color." The most important point is that in order for idioms to become "second nature" in your speech, you'll need to practice them in the real world - everyday.

Did you recognize the idioms that are in quotes from the above paragraphs? Do you know their definitions? If you're not familiar with an idiom then try to guess the meaning based on the context it's being used. Study a few idioms at a time from a book or a web site and practice using them with family and friends. The most effective way, though, to learn idioms is to listen and listen carefully (over and over again) how they are used in conversation and then imitate them in your own speech. What is most important is that you won't be "beating a dead horse" by practicing idioms in the real world. Sooner than you think, they will become a natural part of your own conversation as you use them in the proper context.

So don't "drag your feet" but instead "brush up" on some idioms. Then "get up your nerve" and practice in the real world by "giving it your best shot." You'll soon be "sitting pretty" because you won't feel "like a fish out of water" in the company of native speakers. Who knows, you might even impress your family and friends to "jump on the bandwagon" and follow your lead. (A list of some of the idioms used in this article and their definitions are provided below.)

Idiom Definition
Take the bull by the horns Take decisive action
Go full speed ahead Move forward with enthusiasm
Sound like a broken record  Keep repeating yourself
A horse of a different color  A completely different subject matter
Drag your feet  Take too much time (procrastinate)
A fish out of water  Not feeling comfortable in a situation
Jump on the band wagon  To do the same as others

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