Vocabulary Reading:

Vocabulary Reading: Education 2

This article uses words from the 1000-2000 range of the General Service List. Read it. Then answer the comprehension questions.

Vocabulary Boost

I have so many questions about life and the universe, but here I am in English class learning how to tell a noun from a verb! I may never qualify to be the editor of an English newspaper, but I know that English will help me in my future profession, so I'm really working at learning lots of vocabulary.

I try to read a lot and guess at the meaning of new words. It's a good skill to have, but if there are too many new words, I have to look some of them up in a dictionary. I always refer back to the context where I met the word to see which definition to apply. Dictionary work takes a bit of time, and interrupts my reading, so I always try to guess first. It's faster that way and let's me read more fluently.

There are some words that are really worth knowing well, so I study them in depth. Not only do I need to know what the word means, I also have to know how to pronounce it, how to spell it, and how to use it. To learn the pronunciation, I listen to the word by clicking on it in a computer dictionary. Then I repeat the word aloud after the computer. English spelling is tricky. There are a lot of rules to know, and then the rules get broken anyway. It helps if you can recognize the stem of the word. Then you have to know how to add suffixes like '-s' or '-ed' to make a noun plural, or a verb present perfect, or whatever. Of course, there are verbs like ‘drink' that don't take a suffix. The vowel in the stem changes instead. I also take note of the words nearby so that I can get a feel for how to use my new word. Hopefully, I can learn it well enough to use it in my conversations or in my writing.

After all that work, I hope I recognize the word and remember what it means the next time I meet it. I used to look up lots of words and then forget them just as fast. It made me feel stupid. Now I've learned my lesson — it's easier to review than to have to learn the word all over again. Reviewing takes more self discipline than I'm used to, so I'm tackling this problem by making vocabulary cards. I write the English word on one side and the Chinese meaning on the other side. Sometimes I write the English word on one side and an example sentence with the word missing on the other side. Other times I write the English word on one side and a short list of words it is often used together with on the other side. I'm still experimenting to see which way works best for me. Most importantly, I put the cards in my pocket so that whenever I reach my hand into my pocket and feel them there, I'm reminded to review them. I'm already noticing that I can read faster without using a dictionary so much.


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