5-words a day is not a big-deal, I can learn more…

“A picture is worth 1000 words”  courtesy: http://www.wikipedia.com 

As they say ‘a picture is worth 1000 words’, How would you describe a picture when your total active vocabulary in only that much?

Developing your Active Vocabulary is indeed time-consuming as there are no shortcuts but the good news is: ‘if done well the words stay with you for many many years’ as also there are many usages of the same word.

It’s true that you acquire new words by being in the English environment or by watching TV. But, ‘as you begin to speak’ you must continuously learn them and do conscious efforts to use new words until you reach a level of comfort with English. Make 2-3 sentences of different types using the new word and finally, speak it out (or write it in your mail). Here are the sure ways to Activate Words – I suggest keep it to 5 new words a day.

What are good ways to Learn Words?

You learn words when you Listen or Read or when you do Both – watching a movie with sub-titles for example. Start doing ‘anything that you can do or like to do’ in English – watch any funny video clip on Youtube, a movie with or without subtitles, a serial on Star-world or Discovery, News on DD or BBC, English song, reading newspaper or a novel, cooking using a recipe, sharing a joke, writing a letter or email… reading your text-book, looking at an advertisement, filling-up a form, even reading this post. Good thing is and in India there are a lot opportunities for you to carry-out your work in English. Pick-out 30 min. in a day as your English time where you can easily get 5 new words…. take the words from me the day you cannot pick your words from your work place.

Your most important task is to build up your Active vocabulary. A limited vocabulary will hold you back, and prevent you from speaking English effectively. The Vocabulary starts multiplying very fast after you reach a certain stage where you can understand different forms of the same word, pick the synonyms and antonyms… and then do different usages of these words. In my view learning ‘5 new words’ a day is what you should target (do more when you miss doing it on any day) and add words regularly… make it a habit!

Did you click on the link just above, on the word synonyms? It’s linked to http://www.vocabulary.com I recommend bookmarking this site, the best online English Vocabulary tool and it has one of the fastest dictionary. You may also sign-in to keep your lists and work with them and run a quiz on the words that you know. Not only does it provide excellent definitions but it also allows you to hear how the word is pronounced. You will also find the latest usages of the words in Political or Business News. Practice saying them out loud to yourself and others. And if you forget the correct pronunciation or are confused ask your trainer for help – even with different usages of the word you can seek his/her help.

What is the best way to retain a word and bring it into usage?

How many times in my class have I told about: flash cards? … I have also put it on the pin-up board. There is no better method. Word lists ‘that I sometimes provide to you’ are also useful but flash cards are the time-tested method for memory retention. After making a flash card, start learning the usages of the word. Keep it with you until you’ve learned it. Try your new words on friends in the class or speak it out with me — they may get impressed.

Google is great! -we all love it. I wish we had the Internet and online dictionaries when I was a student. But sometimes pen & paper is the way: use post-it notes or cut a chart to make yourself Flash-cards. They stay with you for as long as you get complete comfort with the word.

An idea: you may also use differently colored Flash-cards for different types of words, Yellow for Nouns, Orange for Adjectives and maybe Green for Verbs etc.

Remember the end-game: Use ‘new words’ in conversation whenever and wherever you can. I expect my students to learn 5 words everyday!  

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Active Vocabulary for Speaking with Ease

Vocabulary for Speaking English
The above image of words related to Vocabulary-Building is created using : www.wordle.net – Thanks for allowing free usage of a wonderful tool!

Here are some statements, we often hear from ESL students as we counsel them to Learn Conversations in English (‘Spoken English’ as it’s popularly called):

“I have crammed many word-lists given to me by my test-prep teachers”

“I did my B.Tech and/or MBA and medium of study was English”

“I know all the words that you show me on this slide in this Wordle or whatever”

“I understand the word when I read it but it doesn’t come to my mind when I speak”

“I watch Hollywood movies but they speak too fast so I do not get the words; reading the sub-titles helps but only very little”

“Living in India and Exposed to English; I have listened to thousands of words spoken to me in real-life situations”

In my view, ‘Exposure to English’ as expressed in the last statement is most helpful towards building adequate and active vocabulary. First and foremost the English Learner has to be ready to receive the words from all the available sources and a vocabulary class is no different…We use all the available media and examples that help you Learn.

A statement that I often make in the class (sometimes I repeat it for emphasis)  “thousands of English words are now part of our everyday speaking as we do in cities like Delhi or NOIDA” . This fact also gives us a positive start for building Active Vocabulary for English Conversations.

Do you know the Hindi word for a Pencil or a Glass?. I am sure, you don’t use it even if you know it. As an adult person exposed to life in a city in India, people are using mobile-phones, internet, e-mail and with that they use hundreds (even thousands) of English words that they confidently speak as a part of every-day conversations in Hinglish (a mix of Hind-English as spoken in Indian Cities). So, you don’t speak 100% correct or pure Hindi but speak it easily and fluently and usage of new ‘Hindi’ word comes naturally to you. You don’t need to do any extra effort or attend my class for it the Environment teaches.

Pay attention: sometimes, the pronunciation of the English word when spoken in a local language is changed!

You may also come to think that “I know thousands of words in English but am not able to Speak even a complete sentence”.  So how would adding more words help me. Other questions, some of them are excuses coming from our natural lethargy to learn are:

  • How is adding words to my vocabulary (active or passive) different for English as a second language?
  • Do I need to learn more words and spend time building English vocabulary?
  • I have a lot of hesitation; OR How would i develop confidence to speak?
  • I don’t have the environment at home or office; How will English environment help me?
  • I also need to Learn Grammar; How much emphasis will you give to grammar?

Some of them may be true while others are myths…let’s discover what is Active Vocab and how you build it.

Active Vocabulary is the 1st thing that is needed to Speak in English. We all Learn ‘new’ words when we get in contact with them, understand the meaning by looking it up in the Dictionary…LEARN to refer to the dictionary on-line or off-line, doesn’t matter.

For Some of you who can Read well and have good working Vocabulary, you just need to ‘Learn 5 New Words’ everyday or Activate the words that you know. It is important to add some ‘Adjectives or describing words as we may call them’. Adjectives are the jewelry of any Language and make it beautiful! The effect is that you enhance the impact of what you say and write.

The instructors will help you discover the meaning of the new words from a Flashcard (picture) or PowerPoint Slide or a Wordle, As an instructor I give a  lot of examples so you understand the context in which this new word can be used (or not used) and learn its proper usage when you speak or write. You will be encouraged to make 2-3 sentences (affirmative, negative and interrogative) with the new word and speak the sentences out to the class. Finally, you will be given the opportunity to speak on a topic ‘depending on you ability’ where you can use the ‘new’ words.

The result is, that you ‘develop your active word-base and are effectively able to use the new words at appropriate places even outside the classroom in real-life situations. With adequate Vocabulary, you express yourself, more benefits of superior word-power are:

  • Speak more clearly….without repeating and using filler words/ jargon or slang
  • Express yourself freely….on personality of an individual, explaining your project etc.
  • Converse confidently…even with people from other professions
  • Make extempore speech/presentation ….. on a wide variety of topics
  • Gain Confidence….as you don’t fumble as you speak.

You are able to ‘strike the right word at the right time’ and be more Fluent as you practice usage of your words more and more… It is my firm belief that you learn best in real-life’ situation so doing role-plays will help you not just with you vocabulary but also with understanding of the grammar.

Isn’t it true that ‘Words Shape your Future!’

At T.r.i.c.k.s – Noida, you will attend a number of Active Vocabulary sessions so that you add words to your ‘word-bank’ and start speaking simple sentences within 10-15 days…. Fluency development can take its time put the right path and progress is assured. Number of Active Vocabulary sessions you attend depends on your Level and the Module you choose.