Do you often run out of words while expressing yourself? This happens especially when you’re having a conversation in a foreign language. Be it in your mother tongue or a foreign language,having an extensive vocabulary can give you an edge over others.
Benefits of Powerful Vocabulary:
Words are currency of communication. Vocabulary can improve all areas of communication such as listening,speaking, reading and writing.
- Powerful vocabulary drives away the fear of speaking. You can communicate with anyone without the concerns of being judged. You won’t have any more inferiority complex and won’t be intimidated by a person who has attended an elite school.
- You can be confident enough in exams where ability of reading comprehension,sentence correction,finding missing words,one word substitution etc are tested. You can encounter any difficult words in reading comprehension in no time.
- You can develop great writing skills and use it for blog writing or writing books. You may find a passion and earning through it.
- You can express yourself better and thus can be involved in engaging conversations.
- Vocabulary will definitely give you professional success.
- Building vocabulary can help you become eloquent,therefore you can easily persuade people. Thus you can build up your leadership skills and maybe become an orator.
- You can understand movies and read a variety of books quite easily. You can also understand the context of songs and appreciate good ones.
- Vocabulary expands your mind and thoughts.
How to Improve Your Vocabulary?
To improve your stock of words you have to follow the 4 step method which is 1. Read and listen, 2.Record,3. Review and 4. Grouping.
1. Read and listen:
You have to read extensively to come across as many words as possible.You can Choose to read any topic that interests you the most. Now, newspapers are not the best way to learn new words. Choose magazines,novels,short stories, biographies and read about your favourite topic. Wikipedia is also a good source of reading about any topic.
When you read,you don’t have to look up every difficult word in a dictionary because this distract and bore you. You can rather focus on guessing the meaning by judging the idea in the given context. If you still can’t guess,mark the words or write them down to review letter.
You should also listen to orators who have clear and precise pronunciation,listen to songs,watch movies to identify new words. You can also listen to TED talks regularly to come across new words regularly. This will help you recognize known words which you don’t use often and tend to forget. In either case note down foreign words. Even if you don’t know the spelling,write it phonetically (the way it sounds). You can also check video transcripts if available.
You can also discover words to find meaning of in the examination sites like TOEFL site or SET site.
Now,go back to the text and find words to learn. There are mainly two types of words: Unknown words or the words you don’t know and Inactive words or the words you’ve seen before but don’t know the exact meaning.
Aim to collect atleast 5 words everyday for a year. You can note them down in a notebook or on your computer as a Word or Excel document. You can also save it on your phone using any app.
Now,pick up the word and look it up in a dictionary(not an electronic dictionary). You can use preferably these websites:
- Oxford Dictionary (https://en.oxforddictionary.com)
- Cambridge Dictionary (http://dictionary.cambridge.org)
- Merriam – Webster Dictionary (http://www.m-w.com)
You should try to involve your maximum senses to remember the particular word. Let’s take the word ‘active’.
- Write down the word and the meaning explaining in a sentence. Example: “Although he was old,he was still robust and active”. Write sentences you can relate to.
- Write down the form of the word and write down its other forms as well. Example: Active is an adjective. Noun: Active,Activity, Adverb: Actively etc. In this way you learn more words at the same time and associate them with others.
- Write down its pronunciation /àktIV/ and practice pronouncing until you get comfortable.
- Now write down the references or where you have found this word. Write the name of the book and page number. If it’s a website write down the web address. If it was in a speech then refer to the speech and timing of the word. This will help you reviewing the word and recalling the utilisation of it easily.
- Now write down the synonyms (words of same meaning) and antonyms (words of opposite meaning).
- You can also draw or stick a picture that gives the idea closest to the meaning.
- After you gather the words in this way use flashcards. Write down the word and the meaning of it in the alternative sides of a card. Separate them in different sections : words you know,words you’re almost sure about and the words you don’t know about. Now,learn the words you almost know and shift them to the section of known words. Then learn the words you don’t know,after practising those will be shifted to the almost known words. And this process will continue.
You can group words based on their specialities to recall them better.
- Same roots: You can group words based on their roots,suffixes or prefixes. Therefore knowing only the meaning of the root will be enough to get an idea of the meaning. Example: You can group all words with suffixes ‘ject’ (meaning ‘throw’) i.e. subject,reject,object,deject.
- Similar meaning: You can group the synonyms all together and try remembering all together when you recall only one word of the group. Example: Extend,expand, reinforce all are synonyms.
- Theme based: You can also collect words and phrases based on a particular theme such as technology,nature, relationship etc. so that whenever a particular topic arises,you can directly relate it to all the words that describe this topic. Example: For technology you can write down the meaning of Obsolete, Update,Downgrade, Cutting edge etc.
To bring new words in your active vocabulary, reviewing is necessary. Reviewing is the process of regularly revising the newly learnt words. Pick one day of the week as your review day. Then move onto older vocabulary.
The best way of reviewing is using the flashcards. Check the side of the card where the word is written and see if you can remember them. The best way is to start with reviewing the almost known words and also check the older words often.
You can also use flashcards apps if you want to but written ones are more effective.
After a firm grasp on the meaning and use of the words,you can start applying those in your everyday sentences. Try to engage with the words actively in your own speech as well as writing.
So,these are the methods that will definitely help you in developing a wide range of vocabulary. All you need is practise.