Since I am from Pakistan, English is not my native language. My improvement with English vocabulary has been slow. Thus I find it difficult to remember the English programming terminologies I need to know. (I am a Asp.net developer.) As a result, my interviews haven't gone well. For example, in an interview yesterday I was asked "What is aggregation?". Unfortunately, I didn't remember the meaning of the word.

How can I prepare for interviews so that I increase my chances of getting a job offer?

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    Flash cards? The only thing that improves memory is practice using it. – keshlam Feb 11 '16 at 23:01
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    @Umar: I found your question difficult to understand, which I'm sure is due to English not being your first language. In an effort to make it easier to understand (and keep it open), I've edited it. If I've changed the meaning or done something else you don't like, please feel free to edit the question yourself, or even rollback my changes (which you can do on the edit page). – GreenMatt Feb 11 '16 at 23:24
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    Have you considered that a substantial working knowledge of the company language is probably fairly crucial? Is it just a case of interview nerves causing you problems? Even if you managed to get through the interviews by luck/preparation, would you really want to start a job that you'd be unlikely to thrive in? Perhaps clarify why you're applying for English positions? – Lilienthal Feb 12 '16 at 0:20
  • Are the interviews for jobs in which the working language is English? – Patricia Shanahan Feb 12 '16 at 4:09
  • Do you read programming-related topics using English-language sources? – Brandin Feb 12 '16 at 9:11

I agree with just being honest when you don't know a particular word. That being said, here are a few of the ways you can improve your vocabulary.

  • Flash Cards - Use spaced repetition (Create your own sets, do not rely on sets made by other people. Focus initially on the words you run into that you do not know. Don't try to learn an entire dictionary at once.)
  • Practice technical interviews over video with other job-hunters.
  • Practice coding problems (these problems are much easier than the video-interviews above, you'll probably want to start with those first)
  • Keep a vocabulary journal and become curious about the origin/etymology of some words.
  • Play vocabulary games with your phone like "Words with Friends" or other equivalent games.
  • Practice answering questions in English on StackOverflow and other technical forums.
  • Look for English-written technical materials to practice reading. For instance, look for the English version of technical blogs, or read publications likes the Financial Times or the Economist. And/or read books like the "Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software", "Cryptonomicon", or any book by Michael Crichton.
  • I second the idea of reading novels for non-natives. The English in technical publications is rather limited. – Rui F Ribeiro Feb 12 '16 at 12:29
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    @RuiFRibeiro But maybe the OP only needs the limited vocabulary that appears in technical publications in the OP's field. If so, reading novels would be a waste of time, and reading the relevant technical material could both gain the needed vocabulary and additional knowledge. – Patricia Shanahan Feb 12 '16 at 23:18
  • @PatriciaShanahan I am myself an IT guy, a non-native English speaker. I grew up listening to yet another foreign language, Spanish, and learning IT through Spanish materials. I only started reading novels in my teens and started speaking English in my 20s. I have benefited greatly of having a good English, including securing a very sought after expat position, and being co-author in English IT papers. I would never hire a person without at least a reasonable command of English for an IT position. Mind you Pakistan has English as one of their official languages; I do not – Rui F Ribeiro Feb 13 '16 at 5:20
  • @PatriciaShanahan I also married into a Philippine family, which has English as an official language, and I am encouraging my nephews to learn English properly. Their constant errors reflect very poorly on them. – Rui F Ribeiro Feb 13 '16 at 5:21

Work on your technical English however suits you best.

Meanwhile at interviews be honest. 'Sorry, I forgot the technical word 'aggregation' can you please clarify your question a bit'

Technical language is not strictly English, you need to learn it. Just as doctors can discuss complex medical diagnoses using Latin words or entomologists can identify insects. These are words that are borrowed from existing languages and then quite often used throughout an industry in many parts of the World. If this is your bread and butter, then learn it and retain it or have trouble finding work.

Many techs don't mind too much if a person has poor English, because the important things are in technical language so you can still explain what they need to do. It's incredibly frustrating and inefficient to attempt to communicate with someone in the industry who can't understand the basic terms.

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    This. The best way to improve language skills is to use them.Read English texts, write English texts, watch videos, try to talk English. Actually, participating on this site is an excellent way to train your English :-). – sleske Feb 12 '16 at 9:08
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    +1 Agree with telling them that it's a language recall issue, not a technical knowledge deficiency issue. – Jane S Feb 12 '16 at 9:46
  • "etymologists" An "etymologist" studies the origin of words, not insects. Maybe you were wanting to use "entomologist"? – Ron Beyer Feb 12 '16 at 14:44
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    yep, forgive my mistake, English isn't my best language. – Kilisi Feb 12 '16 at 20:03

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