Articles : Vocabulary Building

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Vocabulary Building is the summary of what you could find on other pages of this site.

When you leave school or college, someone will inevitably point out that this is not the end and that it is only the beginning. Of course the speaker is right. No educative process is the end. It is always the beginning of more education, more learning and more living. And that is the case here. What has happened to you as a result of your reaction to the material and suggestion in this site is only the beginning of your development. To stop increasing your vocabulary is to stop your intellectual growth. You will wish, we are sure, to continue to growing intellectually as long as you remain alive. And with the momentum that your weeks of hard work have provided, continuing will not be at all difficult.

Let us offer, as a summary of all we have said throughout this site, a recapitulation of the steps you must take so that your vocabulary will keep growing and growing.

STEP ONE: You must become actively receptive to new words.

Words won’t come chasing after you. You must train yourself to be on a constant lookout, in reading and listening for any words that other people know and you do not.

STEP TWO: You must read more.

As an adult, you will find most of the sources of your supply of new words in books and magazines. Is your reading today largely restricted only to the quick perusal of daily news papers? Then you will have to change your habits. If your aim is to have superior vocabulary, you will have to make the time to read at least one book and several magazines every week. Not this week and the next week, but every week for the rest of your life. I have never met a single person who possessed a rich vocabulary and who was not also an omnivorous reader.

STEP THREE: You must learn to add to your own vocabulary the new words you meet in your reading.

When you see an unfamiliar word in a book or in a magazine, do not skip over it impatiently. Instead pause for a moment and say it to yourself. Get used to its sound and appearance. Then puzzle out its possible meaning in the context of the sentence. Whether you come to the right conclusion or not, whether indeed you are able to come to any intelligent conclusion at all is of no importance. What is important is that, by that process, becoming superconscious of that word. As a result, you will suddenly notice that this very word pops up unexpectedly again and again in all you reading. For now your mind has been alerted to notice it. And of course after you have seen it a few times, you will know fairly accurately not only what it means but the many ways in which it can be used.

STEP FOUR: You must open your mind to new ideas.

Every word you see is the translation of new idea. Think for few minutes of the areas of human knowledge that may possibly be unknown to you - Psychology, semantics, science, art, music, management, etc… Then attack one of these areas methodically, by reading books on that particular subject. In every field, form the simplest to the most abstruse, there are several books for the average, untrained lay reader that will give you both a good grasp of the subject and at the same time add vocabularies because they are required to expose themselves constantly to new areas of learning. You must do the same.

STEP FIVE: You must set a goal.

If you do nothing about your vocabulary, you will learn, at most, twenty-five to fifty new words in the next twelve months. In conscious efforts, you can learn several thousands. Set your self a goal of finding several new words every day. This may sound ambitious, but you will discove4 as soon as you start actively looking for new words in your reading, and actively doing reading of a more challenging type, that new words are all around you. That is, if you are ready for them. And understand this. Vocabulary building snowballs. The results of each new day search will be greater and greater- once you provide the necessary initial push, once you gain momentum, once you become addicted to looking for new words, for finding new words and for taking possession of new words. And this one addiction well worth cultivating.

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