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What English Vocabulary Should You Learn?

 
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englishlci



Joined: 01 Oct 2009
Posts: 48

PostPosted: Tue Mar 30, 2010 7:44 pm    Post subject: What English Vocabulary Should You Learn? Reply with quote

When you are learning English, and in your ESL Programs you will come in contact with thousands of new words and it will be very difficult to remember all of them, thus, you have to choose the words you truly want to learn.

There are 3 things you must consider when learning new vocabulary:

1. How do you identify the words you should learn?
You must think about how useful a word would be to you. Some words may work for casual and informal talk while others are better for formal and serious conversation. Think of how often and where a word or expression is used, then, you will know if it is worth learning.

The best way to learn new vocabulary is to study words in context; however, it may be hard to decide which words to learn. Words fall into two categories:

- Passive vocabulary (receptive)
- Active vocabulary (productive)

Your purpose for learning English will very much determine the level of effort you should put into learning active vocabulary. You have to understand the contextual nature of vocabulary, how a word is employed, and why, where and when it is used.

2. What do you have to learn about a word?
In a dictionary you will find information about the word’s:

- Spelling
- Meaning
- Pronunciation
- Part of speech
- Inflected forms
- Grammatical features
- Collocations
- Similar and opposite words
- Examples on how to use it

You should write the words that interest you down, along with all this information or part of it; it all depends on what you need. You must consider if you want the word to become a part of your active vocabulary or if you need to understand it when you read or listen. If you want it to be a part of your active vocabulary, write down everything that is listed above.

3. How should you undertake learning new words?
Words have to be learned in context; never memorize them. Pay attention to how and where a word or expression is used.

Look for interesting articles in newspapers or magazines. Listen to English as much as you can, in the radio, on TV, at the movies, at bars, at supermarkets, or in CDs.

Write down the new words you hear, sort them in alphabetical order, and look them up. It may be easier if you write down the words by date, so that you remember what happened the day you heard it, but you should find the way that works best for you. You can record the words along with useful information to listen regularly until you learn it. The key is to get organized!


Rachel Clarkson
Rachel Clarkson is an English teacher at LCI English and blogger at the ESL Blog.
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