In this blog we are sharing our experiences on how to improve your English vocabulary. It is one of the most significant questions where English is a second language.
As an Institute which teaches Business English: Speaking and writing we are often asked this question, “What should we do, to improve our vocabulary?” Initially, I used give text-book answers which included, “Read lot of English books. Underline difficult words. Refer dictionary to understand the meaning. Try to use that word in different contexts and that’s how you can improve your vocabulary.” Over the years, I realised, this may be effective way to learn new words but not effective to retain it. English is a second Language for me and even I could not learn new words in English like this. How am I going to ask students to learn this way? My vocabulary improved when I started taking few extra efforts. I am not claiming this to be an elixir, but this improved method is surely effective.
Listen to quality English
It is a common experience that we retain a lot of information through listening. Most of us haven’t read anything beyond newspapers in years. But, we listen to radio and also watch television. Next time, instead of tuning to local dialect, tune into English channels, be little alert. Next time, while buying newspaper, look for English edition. While listening or reading, look out for difficult words. Keep a log book where you can jot these words down.
Guess the meanings
Instead of rushing towards dictionary, take a moment. Based on the context, try to guess the meanings of the word. Initially you may fail miserably. That’s alright. With time you will be able to guess the meanings more often than not. Write down sentence with your guess word into your log book.
Take the Dictionary
After guessing the meaning, take dictionary into your hands. I am sure; you may not have that fat book available everywhere, you get stuck with a word. Use your smart phone smartly. You can go to Dictionary.com or en.wiktioanry.org to find meaning of the word and its usage. Note it down into your log for future reference.
Find etymology and history
Apart from meaning and usage, looking up for etymology and history of the word helps a lot. Both sources mentioned above have these sections. Etymology helps you understand the source of a particular word. Using it, you may dissect complex word into simple words in order to make meaning out of it. History part of the word normally contains an interesting story about the word.
Advantage of referring to etymology is that you remember simple words which make complex words. Next time, a complex word appears, you can dissect it, to understand its meaning. As human beings we all love stories. We can remember them in much better way and hence retain the word for long time.
I hope you find it interesting. Please like, comment and share. Your suggestions are really important.