Vocabulary Building Techniques | Tips For Improving English

 | July 20,2010 03:00 pm IST

Mirth, genial, convivial, enraptured, blithe, unalloyed, delirious, exhilarated, rhapsodic, enrapt, beatific, bonny, exultant, rollicking, jaunty, elysian, chipper, cavort, carousing, reveling..


Isn't it interesting to discover that a normally used word 'happy' has so many synonyms ?
 

Won’t it be a delight to know most of these words - so that it is easier for you to comprehend most of the text you read?
 

Have you ever read a book, a magazine or a newspaper where in you could not enjoy it completely, because you couldn’t understand or comprehend a particular word? Or have you some time left reading something; may be some article because you got stuck up with a word? Or for that matter, did you sometimes feel the problem of not laughing at the punch line of a joke, because you couldn’t understand a vocabulary word in the punch line? Or you couldn’t follow a piece of conversation because you were not able to understand the words spoken by the speakers! Doesn’t this all make it a mandate for all of us to be reasonably good (if not very good) with vocabulary? In a nut shell – to read, to enjoy, to converse, to understand – for almost everything, you require a good vocabulary.
 

The second most important issue is, when we want to learn words & want to know vocabulary but we don’t know how to do it, as mugging up a word – list is one of the most tedious jobs possible. Learning up words is a very, very arduous task because one can’t remember huge lists full of words one hasn’t even heard of. Let us try to work out what are the possible ways in which we can improve our know how of words.
 

Your goal should be a deep-processing of words. Deep-processing implies that these words become a part of you, almost as your native language is a part of you.
 

You might find it hackneyed & clichéd but flash –cards do help you. It is the quickest way to get just the repetition that you need on the words you want to repeat. Write target words & phrases on the cards (at the back as well as on the front). As you review the list, separate the words in 2 piles; those you understand & those you do not. Keep going through the yet-unlearned words until you attain a speedy mastery of them.
 

Have you tried relating the new vocabulary words to some person? Say you don’t like an acquaintance because you think he is foolish & gives sudden stupid statements. You can give him another name as a ‘dolt’ whose dumb remarks come in a bolt (dolt = dumb + bolt). Try using cognates (words directly related to the word in question) & things will be easier for you. For example, semper fidelis (“Always faithful”) is the motto of US marines. Cognate of ‘fidelis’ is fidelity. Isn’t that interesting?
 

(Caution: The cognate is rarely the exact equivalent of the meaning of the original word).
 

You should also try inserting the new words you learn into sentences you often use. (Doing this with foreign words will be special fun). Like now, we know ‘semper’ is ‘always’. So, the sentences could be:-

I will ‘semper’ have trouble with vocabulary unless I give time to it.
Two & two semper make four-SEMPER!
 

There is a wonderful key letter or key-sound technique to practice for your vocabulary improvement. Think of a word, based on the first (or very prominent) syllable of the word (or in the sound of the word & then create a story or a phrase, involving both these words (the made – up one) & the meaning of the original word. For example, semper might suggest the sound of simmer. Think of a volcano that is ALWAYS “SIMMERING”. Hold the image. To fix the association of ‘always’ & ‘simmering’, you might make up a story about visiting Sicily, Hawaii or Japan & not being able to see a volcano because it is active. (I am sure that after reading this piece of text, you will now semper remember the meaning of SEMPER – hey “simper remember” has nice ring to it too)
 

Don’t you remember the nooks & corners of your room? You are bound to. No! So, why not at times create an imaginary room in which you assign one place to each word in a day. To revise, go for a virtual walk around the room & try remembering all the words assigned to every corner of the room. To make things more interesting, change the shape of the hypothetical room often.
Good news for the cell-phone users. You can use your cell phone to improve your vocabulary. You don’t believe it! Then read on, folks! Assign a new word to every person on your contact list, according to his / her traits. Believe me; keying in the words itself will make you learn quite a few of them. Anyways, keep revising the list whenever you have the time (there might go the flash-cards deep down the dungeons). For best results, change the assigned adjectives every week. (Taking an example – you will never forget the word if every time someone from your residence calls up, you see on the screen ‘condominium calling’)
 

There is an experience all of us have definitely been through. That is, whenever writing an exam, we tend to remember the notes we studied to prepare for the exam. While writing an answer, what we have in our mind is – “this was the last line of that page – now the page turns – the next paragraph begins with … & so on). Let us use this human nature to our benefit. Take 3 cards of yellow, red & white color. On the yellow card (yellow stands for ‘positive’), write positive words; on the red card, write negative words (red symbolizes danger) & on white (the color of peace & neutrality), write neutral words. Now whenever you come across a word, you will instantaneously remember the color of the card it was on, which in turn will tell you about its degree at least which is indeed a big help.
 

A good way & knowing your words is also to discover, create & review as many comprehensible phrases & sentences using the word to be remembered. This will help you deep-process the word by working it into a whole web of meanings & usages as cramming erases out of memory very quickly, but the usage sticks on.
 

You can also try recording some words everyday & listen to them time & again. This will actually help you memorize them.
 

But believe me at times, only ‘brute’ repetition will secure your memory for certain hard – to retain terms. Frequent vocal repetitions impress the form on your ‘mental ear’. This auditory dimension will help you recognize & recall the words later.
 

So, start off now & improve your know – how of words. Hope you fare well! & be a DUX (the topper).
Concluded.
 

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Comments


Pallavi Verma on 11/24/10 at 11:22 am

i want about the Vocabulary techniques for improving English


Jayna on 11/20/11 at 08:00 am

Phenomenal bradeokwn of the topic, you should write for me too!