Clearly there is great advantage in speaking good English. It helps you get around better at work and in social circles. Don’t we know that to get to an impressive level of spoken and written English, you need an extensive English vocabulary? Improving your English vocabulary may seem easy, but in real life, it requires a lot of hard work. To know a word really well, you need to know a) What the word means b) How to use it and in what context c) The pronunciation d) The spelling [helps to look up the usage and the meaning in context] The way most people learn new words is by listening to others, reading widely, learning words that are related to each other, and practising through speaking and writing. At inlingua, we emphasize the listening and speaking part in class and outside at home and elsewhere, you can do the reading and writing. Listen to others: Listening carefully to others is a great way of learning new words and to improve English skills. When you hear the word used several times – hopefully, correctly used – you get a sense of how to pronounce it and how to use it. You also learn the context. For example, if I hear the word “moody” in the sentence “My friend is really moody. I never know what she will feel and how she will behave from morning to evening”, I get a very good idea of what that word means. Unfortunately, people don’t provide us with such details when using words. But they can say “I really dislike him because he is so moody and unpredictable.” Here I get the idea that “moody” is a negative feeling for most people, and it annoys people when someone is moody. I also understand that “moody” and “unpredictable” are related. You can pick up (or learn) new words by listening to others in your group talking away. More realistically, you can watch chat shows when people talk about celebrities, or their own ongoing projects, or recent events. Internet radio and FM radio also provide listening opportunities. However, this technique requires good listening skills. If you feel yours are poor, start by listening to the inlingua CD and make sure you know all the words and what they mean. Be honest: have you listened to the CDs for the reading text as well as the listening exercises? How many times have you listened? Reading Good English publications: To improve your English vocabulary, you must read a lot. When you read a lot of English, your vocabulary; grammar and understanding of prepositions will improve. Start reading short articles in the English newspapers, including HT City, Delhi Times, and real estate or education supplements. If you enjoy reading, you can read on any topic of interest. The rule is simple: pick a book or magazine or comic on a topic you enjoy. As you start reading, you should also expand your areas of interest. Learning related English words: When we learn words in class, we try to learn words that fit around a topic or area of interest. For weddings, we learn the basic vocabulary for weddings and marriages. For food, we learn that kind of vocabulary. This is what I mean by related words – words that fit around each other. E.g. for restaurants, I think “dish”, “waiter (server)”, “chef”, “cuisine” (type of cooking) and so forth. For higher levels, “ambience”, “quality of service”, and different words for taste and flavour come in. Some people like memorizing words by subject or list, and using those words that day. Fine, if that works for you. (It never really did for me). What worked was learning words that expressed what I wanted to say about a movie, a restaurant, or a holiday experience. Practicing the new English words: One cannot stress this enough. It is quite easy to learn or memorize words, including spelling and pronunciation, to do well in flashcard quizzes or to impress at a particular event. It is much more difficult to retain the word in your everyday vocabulary and pull it out as needed. The only way it works is to use the new word(s) throughout the day or week, and to use it several times. (And with luck, using it right), trying to make sentences with it in front of the mirror, speaking into your mobile phone while self-recording, or practicing with a friend, using it in spontaneous chats near the desert cooler or water dispenser. Writing it out several times in a notebook and making sentences with it. Whatever works for you works well.

Shinjinee Sen, 24 February, 2015 (7:21 AM)

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