#282: Essential Vocabulary to Talk about Your Experience in English

Jul 19, 2023 | Advanced Vocabulary, Business Professional English, Collocations (Vocabulary)

In a recent lesson, I shared how to use the present perfect tense precisely when talking about your experiences in English – but what about commonly used word combinations? 

Specifically collocations such as

  • Valuable experience
  • Hands-on experience
  • Vast experience

Choosing the right vocabulary to talk about your experience in English is just as important as using accurate grammar structures.

The use of common collocations contributes to accurate sentence structures and it will help you express your thoughts with improved clarity. 

In this Confident English lesson, you’ll learn 17 common collocations to talk about your experience in English — whether you’re focused on your knowledge/skills or an unforgettable life event. 

These are ideal for job interviews as well as sharing stories about your life overall.


17 Collocations to Talk about Your Life Experience in English

If you’re new to my lessons, you may be wondering, ‘What is a collocation?’ So let’s do a quick recap.

Collocations are combinations of 2 or more words that native speakers frequently use together. And they form a natural and cohesive unit of meaning. It’s best to think of collocations as a single unit rather than separate words.

If you want to learn more about collocations, I recommend reviewing my lesson titled, 19 Collocations with the Think where I share more on the topic.

To help organize the collocations you’ll learn today, I’ve focused on 3 broad categories with collocations to

  • Talk about Knowledge/Skill Gained Through Experience
  • Discuss Insights from Reflection on One’s Life Experience
  • Describe a Meaningful Event/Activity from One’s Life Experience

Category 1: Talk about Knowledge/Skill Gained Through Experience

When describing our experience with building, strengthening, or gaining knowledge or skills, we often form collocations with the following words:

  • Considerable
    • Def: to have a lot of or many years of experience
    • Ex. “Jenna has considerable experience in teaching English to young children.”
  • Valuable 
    • Def: a precious, beneficial, or rewarding experience. 
    • Ex. “Working at this non-profit has provided me with valuable experience at the start of my career.”
  • First-hand
    • Def: experience gained through, coming from, or being direct involvement or observation
    • Ex. During my studies abroad, I was lucky enough to gain first-hand experience of the local culture.
  • Hands-on 
    • Def: direct, practical experience in something
    • Ex. “I have 10 years of hands-on experience in treating patients with sleep apnea.”
  • Previous
      • Def: relevant or applicable experience that occurred before a specific point in time or before a particular role
      • Ex. “Due to my previous experience as a team leader, I was able to delegate tasks with ease in my first week as project manager.”
  • Past 
    • Def: a broader range of personal or professional encounters that have taken place at any time in the past
    • Ex. “My past experiences with this salon have been great; they know exactly what I want.”
  • Vast
    • Def: wide-ranging and in-depth experience
    • Ex. “Kelly has vast experience with building websites using Python.”
  • Relevant 
    • Def: prior experience that relates to something in the present, usually in reference to job experience that qualifies you for a targeted position.
    • Ex. “Do you have any relevant experience in designing ads that target Gen Z?”

Category 2: Discuss Insights from Reflection on One’s Life Experience

  • Draw on one’s experience 
    • Def: to use knowledge or lessons learned from the past to help with a current task or problem
    • Ex. “When faced with a difficult problem, I have drawn on my experience from previous challenges to find a solution.”
  • Learn from one’s experiences
    • Def: to gain knowledge, insights, and understanding by going through different situations or events in life.
    • Ex. “After nearly starting a fire in my kitchen, I’ve learned from experience to keep an eye on the stove at all times when cooking.”
  • Based on experiences
    • Def: using knowledge or information gained from previous personal encounters or situations to make judgments, decisions, or predictions.
    • Ex. “Based on my experience, it’s better to travel to Iceland in the fall.”
  • From 
    • Def: speaking or acting based on personal knowledge or understanding gained through direct involvement 
    • Ex. “From experience, I can confidently say that studying regularly and preparing in advance helps me perform better on exams.”

Category 3: Describe a Meaningful Event/Activity from One’s Life Experience

  • Shared
    • Def: an experience in which two or more people go through something together
    • Ex. “Going on this two-week camping trip with our dearest friends was a challenging, shared experience that brought us closer together.”
  • Unforgettable
    • Def: a remarkable and memorable experience; not easily forgotten
    • Ex. “I had the most unforgettable experience at the concert last night!”
  • Nerve-racking
    • Def: an anxiety-inducing and stressful, and/or uncomfortable experience
    • Ex. “Giving a speech in front of everyone was a nerve-racking experience.”
  • Exhilarating
    • Def: a thrilling and exciting experience
    • Ex. “Riding a roller coaster for the first time was an exhilarating experience.”
  • Liberating
    • Def: a freeing, releasing, and/or empowering experience that allows one to break free from limitations
    • Ex. “For me, a solo trip to Taiwan was a liberating experience. I learned so much about myself.”

Time to Practice!

Answer the following questions using the collocations from today’s lessons:

  1. What topic or skill could you present on easily for 15 minutes given your experience?
  2. What past experiences have shaped your perspective on work/life balance?
  3. What is the most memorable experience from your childhood?

You can share your answers — as well as your questions — with me in the comments below.

~ Annemarie

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