Vocabulary Build up… ON STEROIDS!

Power of WordsThere are four ways to GUARANTEE a quick vocabulary build-up

  1. Suffixation
  2. Phrasal Verbs
  3. Synonyms/Antonyms/Homonyms
  4. AWL: Academic Word List
  5. Active, consistent, daily reading of REAL books

1. Suffixation. See http://www.englishw.com/AdjectivesMain.php When writing we sometimes need to use a noun when we have in our minds only a verb that relates to it. For example, “Avoid” is the verb when we really need to use “Avoidance.” The best way to learn these ENDINGS (suffices) that change the verb to a noun or an adjective or an adverb, is practice in reading and writing. The above list helps.

2. Phrasal Verbs are kinds of idioms: 1 Verb plus a preposition (maybe 2 or 3!) and they are used ALL THE TIME and EVERYWHERE. Again reading and listening practice improves your understanding. Check out Edmonton School District’s Phrasal Verb lessons/lists online at http://edmontonenglishschool-learningenglishonline.com/free-training/phrasal-verbs-listing/

3. Synonyms. Most online dictionaries are now simply lists of synonyms, that is, words of similar meaning to the one you are looking for. Actually this is what a thesaurus is for. http://www.thesaurus.com/ can help a lot! Any of the required English exams (IELTS, TOEFL, CAEL, TOEIC) expect you to know a good many synonyms.

4. I would also recommend you look at the AWL (Academic Word List) for words you need for studies or the job market. There are 570 headwords and about 3000 high frequency words on this list (see http://www.uefap.com/vocab/select/awl.htm ). If you spend 15 minutes each day reviewing this list, it can really help!

5. Finally, ACTIVE READING. What does this mean. If you’re only learning at a word-level, others will only understand you at that level. Stretch your learning over an entire text! Whether it’s a magazine article (see this month’s People’s Magazine for incredible stories of the lives of actors, writers who died in 2014: Wow!), or a newspaper, or even children’s books: All of these will help you grow. But LISTENING to stories will change your life! CBC Radio has real news programs online for the English learner (http://www.cbc.ca/calgary/learning-english/ ). As well my favourite way of spending time driving in traffic is AUDIO BOOKS. Librivox.org is an excellent FREE access to GREAT LITERATURE (see https://librivox.org/ ).

Ok. All of these are good. But the MOST IMPORTANT is to GET STARTED and to be CONSISTENT. There’s a saying: “You can’t steer a parked car.” Are you moving/ growing in your English? Good, keep going. But work EACH DAY on your English, in 15-45 minute blocks. Do this for 2015 and you will SUCCEED!