Image courtesy of Jil Wright via Flickr (CC 2.0)
So far in the series, we’ve spoke about four different ways to increase your word power: reading extensively, learning words in context, listening, and practising using new words. Here are two more tips to help build your vocabulary.
5. Keep a dictionary close at hand, always
When it comes to vocabulary building, an obvious place to start would be somewhere you are likely to encounter thousands of new words: a dictionary. If you don’t have one, invest in one, for a good dictionary is worth its weight in gold. Maybe you prefer to do things the old-fashioned way by consulting a printed, unabridged version. Or maybe you wish to have something more sophisticated, such as an app or online version. Whatever your choice, it hardly matters. The one thing that does is that you always have a dictionary close at hand while reading. Why? You are more likely to use it that way.
Apart from the meaning of a word, a dictionary also has alternative meanings, pronunciation, word origin, useful expressions and phrases featuring the word, collocations, and lots more. In short, it’s a treasure trove of information, so make the most of it.
6. Make it fun
Let’s face it, learning of any kind could be a pretty dreary affair after a while, even if you happen to be an eager beaver! So, try as best as you can to make vocabulary building a fun activity. A game of Scrabble, for instance, is an enjoyable way of getting introduced to new lexis. If board games aren’t your thing, you can always play a spoken word game. A quick online search should get you a list of ideas. If you wish to push yourself, then try a crossword puzzle or perhaps an anagram. Crossword puzzles can be a right challenge, as creators are typically forced to use unusual words so that everything fits into the puzzles they design.
Remember, there’s no one perfect way to acquire an extensive vocabulary. Feel free to chop and change learning strategies so that you find out what works best for you.
|worth its weight in gold|
|Example||:||A good cookery book is worth its weight in gold.|
|Meaning||:||describes a book or article that has not been shortened in length|
|Example||:||I’ve seen the unabridged version of this play, and it is just too long.|
|close at hand|
|Example||:||Is there a hospital close at hand?|
|Meaning||:||describes something containing many useful things|
|Example||:||The encyclopedia is a treasure trove of information.|
|chop and change|
|Meaning||:||to keep changing what you are doing|
|Example||:||Football coaches sometimes chop and change players to find the right balance.|