Enhance your vocabulary and be a better learner
If you want to be a good communicator, do you need a great vocabulary?
You might be surprised to learn that a really big vocabulary isn't necessary to express yourself clearly and to move others with your words.
Although President Lincoln spoke in a style very different from the way we normally speak today, his words still have the power to move us deeply in their clarity and deep emotion. During the darkest days of World War II, Winston Churchills energized speeches of the British people used very simple, common and powerful words to successfully ignite the courage and determination of his people.
So, if it is possible to communicate effectively without using too many very big words, why should we try to expand our vocabulary? The reason is that learning new words broadens our understanding and improves our mental muscles. Each new word we learn tempts our minds to expand into new areas.
When we have a greater range of words to draw from, we improve our ability to think and express ourselves. Our thinking will become more flexible and softer, and we will understand more of the world around us and within us, when we have a greater vocabulary. The ability to use words effectively in the modern world is often rewarded.
The English language contains a huge number of words, perhaps more than half a million words. However, most people use a vocabulary of a few thousand common words on a daily basis. It is possible to learn English with a limited number of words, but you expand your options as you broaden your vocabulary. When you understand very few words, your ability to learn new information is limited.
If you want to increase your vocabulary, there are many techniques you can use. One good way is to read books or articles that are a little more difficult than you are used to. When you come across a word you don't know, see if you can tell its meaning from the context. Look at the way the word is formed, with its letters and syllables. Does it remind you of any words you already know? What are the familiar parts of it?
Many words in the English language have common roots that they share with other words. You may be able to infer the meaning of the new word from the way syllables are grouped and used. You should consult the dictionary to be sure.
If you come across a word you don't understand during a lecture or conversation, you can ask someone to explain the meaning of the word. Many people are reluctant to do so because they fear exposing their ignorance by asking.
It's sometimes true that other people may choose to look down on you if you admit that you don't understand a word. On the other hand, they may be happy to teach you something new. If you decide that you don't want to ask anyone else about the meaning of words you don't know, be sure to write down these new words and look them up later.
Should you try to learn new words straight from the dictionary? It depends on your learning style and preferences. Some people will get bored very quickly while reading a dictionary, while others will find it cool.
Not all dictionaries are the same, and you may find a particular version more useful than the rest. Good dictionaries do more than provide a definition of a word. Some will show you an example of the word used in the sentence. They often show you alternate spellings, give the plurals of nouns and the past tense of verbs. Most dictionaries will show you the correct pronunciation. Some will tell you the historical derivation of the word. Many English words have their roots in Old Anglo-Saxon, French or German.
Language is always evolving and new words are created every day. New words can come from technology, from scientific discoveries, from other languages, from popular culture, and from the streets.
When learning new vocabulary, you can better integrate it into your mind if you actively engage yourself in the learning process.
When you come across a new word, write a definition for it in your own words, and write one or more sentences using the new word in context. Visualize the word in its printed form. Say the word out loud and spell it out loud. Say a sentence out loud that uses the new word. Create a picture in your mind that will help you remember the word. If you make the picture funny or weird, you'll probably remember it better.
To improve your use of language and ability to think, practice summarizing the topic of an entire article or book using only one or two paragraphs. After reading an article or book, try writing two different versions that summarize your thoughts. Make one copy using very simple everyday words. Make it as clear and simple as possible while maintaining accuracy. Make another version that uses very complex sentences and advanced vocabulary, as you would imagine a college professor might write.
This will give your brain a good workout and increase your verbal and mental flexibility.
If you are committed to expanding your vocabulary, how many new words should you try to learn in a day? It's up to you. Just two new words a day will add up to over 7,000 words in ten years. Ten words a day