Vocabulary is a big deal. We get tested on it on standardized tests, teachers write in big, bold red markers that we need to expand our word choice, friends say we use "like" and "thing" too often...
But how does one improve their vocabulary?
There is the old-school way, which is intense and not very effective: read a dictionary and hope that some of the words slip into your mind and out of your mouth (or pen).
However, for the modern, efficient, and discerning English-speaker, I have gathered up a few tips and online resources to help kick-start a boost to your vocabulary.
Tips to Increase Vocabulary
1. Read. Read a variety of literature, from magazines and newspapers to blogs to comics. Read the advertisements on the way to work. Read the ingredients label on your snack or drink. Read a book. Read an ebook. Seriously, just...
As I am getting my own college bound Senior ready for applications, tests, and essays, I find myself realizing how important an extensive vocabulary can be to help with all the preparations.
For a student with a 504 Plan or an I.E.P., advanced vocabulary can be a real challenge on standardized tests. For many students, so much time has been spent on study skills and reading for content, often higher level vocabulary is overlooked. What can
you do? Look online for games that encourage vocabulary building skills. Go to a site like Quizlet and look up words from the PSAT, SAT, or ACT to study. There are games and flashcards already done, or you can make your own.
Try to learn a new word every day and use it! It is a fun challenge and a great way to expand your knowledge. Then, when you get into higher level readings, you have built a better base to help you understand the content and context of your readings.
Radio shows are a great way to practice listening to spoken English. Many radio shows post their episodes online and also include the text of the show. This way you can both listen to the show and also read the show. Reading the text allows you to check
your understanding of what you heard. In addition to practicing listening skills, this is also a great way to learn new vocabulary. Below are links to some of my favorite radio shows available online.
Voice of America
News stories. Easy to intermediate vocabulary.
For Voice of America, look for news stories with videos. Below the video, you'll find the text of all the spoken parts. For example, see the video of this
story about the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act in the United States.
NPR TED Talks
Talks by experts in technology, education, and design fields. Advanced vocabulary...
While in our everyday speech we may speak casually, for a student who wants to develop his intellect as much as possible, vocabulary should continually be built upon. Any time a student encounters a word that is unfamiliar, that student should write that
word down, look up its definition, and use it in a sentence. Keeping a vocabulary notebook is a super idea for any student, even adult students. A good way to develop one's vocabulary speedily is to read certain authors who use lesser-known words. An example
of a current author is Charles Krauthammer who recently published "Things That Matter." Even an educated person will find words in this series of essays that can be learned. Never underestimate the power of a strong vocabulary!