Saturday, February 6, 2010

Tips for Improving Vocabulary Skills

If you speak English as a second language and would like to improve your vocabulary, follow these tips:

1. Keep a notebook with you and use it to write down 10 words you hear every day at work that you are not familiar with. At the end of every work week, you should have 50 new words! Look up the meaning of all of the words and memorize them. The website is a good resource to use, as it not only has definitions, but you can look up synonyms, as well. It also provides an audio of how the word is pronounced. Choose at least ten of these words to incorporate into your daily speech, when the situation fits.

2. Watch American television for at least one half hour per day. Programs that you may find most helpful in learning everyday words, slang, and common idioms are usually sitcoms. The word "sitcom" is short for "situation comedy." These are weekly humorous shows that usually last for half an hour. Because they are about everyday life, they include everyday words and expressions that Americans use all the time.

3. Read aloud every day for 2-3 minutes. This will not only provide pronunciation practice, but it will also be a good source of vocabulary words from which to include in your new word list. Try reading things like newspaper articles and magazine articles, as these reading sources will provide you with words that you can use in your daily speech. Novels are also good, but many times include advanced and formal words that we often do not use in informal social situations.

4. Look up synonyms for 20 common words you use on a regular basis, and try using these synonyms as an alternate to using the same words all the time. For example, instead of using the word "pretty", you could say "beautiful", "good-looking", "gorgeous", etc.

Just following these four simple tips will help you develop and improve your vocabulary tremendously! Try it for a month and let me know how it works for you!