Monday, February 1, 2016

Ideas for Learning Vocabulary

These come from an instructor at College of Alameda.  Her name is Lorna Joy Shashinda.


 You see many new words when you are an English student. It’s impossible to remember all of them, so what do you do? Well, everyone has a different way to learn vocabulary, and as you study, you will think of some great ideas of your own. Here are some suggestions that may help you: 

1)     You do NOT have to memorize or learn every word you see or hear.  

2)   Decide what words are important to YOU. There are many reasons a word can be important. Maybe you want to learn a new word so you can understand what you are reading or what someone said. Maybe you want to learn it to use in conversation or when you write. Maybe your teacher told you the word was important, or maybe you need to learn this word for your major or your job. 

3) Ask yourself “What part of speech is the word in this sentence?”       Is it a noun (count? non-count?)?  A verb? An adjective? An Adverb? Another part of speech?     
4)  Ask yourself “What does the word mean in this sentence?” Take a minute and think about the word. Look at the context (the sentences before and after the word) and try to guess the meaning. If you want, you can ask a friend or teacher about the word, or you can check in a dictionary. But be careful--one word can have many different meanings. Look at the word “spring”. What part of speech is it in each sentence? If it is a noun, is it count or non-count? What does it mean in each sentence?: 

1)  I like to go to the mountains and drink water from a spring. It’s delicious.
     part of speech:_________  meaning:__________________________________________________

2)  Spring is my favorite time of year. I love all the flowers.
     part of speech:_________  meaning:__________________________________________________

3)  Be careful of tigers. If you make them mad they will spring at you and eat you!
     part of speech:_________  meaning:__________________________________________________

4)  Don’t sit in that chair! It has a broken spring.
     part of speech:_________  meaning:__________________________________________________

5)  I’m sorry to spring this on you, but we are having a surprise test today.
     part of speech:_________  meaning:__________________________________________________

5) Think about English words in English. Sometimes you will want to translate a word into your own language, but remember: many words do not translate accurately. Also, thinking about a new word in English helps you learn it faster. 

6)  When you learn a new word, also learn the pattern for using the word. Another reason for thinking about English words in English is so that you can learn how to use them. For example, in sentence #3, you need to learn that we say “spring at [someone]”, and in sentence #4, we say “spring [something] on [someone]”. The only way to learn these patterns is by thinking about them in English, and then practicing them. 

7) Learn how to spell and pronounce the word. Correct spelling will help your pronunciation, and good pronunciation will help your spelling! Both will help you remember the word. They will also help you recognize the word when you hear it. 

8) One of the best ways to remember a word is to USE it. Write sentences using the new word. Use the word in conversation, or practice using it by talking to yourself. 

9) Keep notes about words you want to learn. Some people like to keep a notebook with new words in it. Some people like to use index cards. Include as much information as possible about the new word, but write down only information that helps you with the word. Some people also write down the pronunciation in the phonetic alphabet. Here is one way to use index cards: 


the new word, including syllable separation and stress   

  part of speech   other information   plural, irregular tenses 

related words (nouns, verbs, adjectives, using the same root)  
    BACK OF VOCABULARY CARD                                 
Original sentence where you saw
the word or an example sentence
from a source other than yourself. 
Dictionary definition (if there is more
than one, choose the one that makes
sense in the original sentence.) 
Write your own sentence using this
meaning of the word

     © 1999 by Lorna Joy Shashinda

1 comment:

  1. I liked the tips that you posted and I try to do them. But They require a lot of time. I have to learn many words in a short time because I need to speak English at all moment.