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02 / 02 / 2006

LEARNING TIPS: VOCABULARY LISTS (1): meaning and examples

Good morning (or should I say...afternoon),

One of the things that often keeps intermediate English students from becoming advanced English students is their limited vocabulary. However, very few students actively work to build their vocabulary, which is a big mistake!

Over the next couple of days, I want to review some basic ideas for learning (and remembering!) new vocabulary. If you are a Ziggurat student or a Daily Vitamin Plus! subscriber, you can also consult the Daily Vitamins from the 4th and 5th of February, 2004 as well as the 20th, 21st and 22nd of September, 2004.

When you are in English class, do you keep a list of new words in your notebook? When you are reading in English, do you write down new words? Do you do anything afterwards to remember those words? If you are like most English students, you probably (occasionally) write down new vocabulary words as you see them, with their translation, but you do very little (if anything) with those words later.

Many of you probably have notebooks filled with words from your English classes that you never look at. The problem may be that these words are not organised in any way that facilitates passing them to long-term memory through study and review. There is no point in writing down new words unless you have a plan to do something with them in the future.

My objective isn't for you stop taking notes of new vocabulary; I only want to encourage you take notes in an organised way, which will motivate you to look at or study them again in the future and pass them to long-term memory.

Our brains organise and store (almacenar) lexicon (vocabulary) by semantic (meaning) categories. The trick, then, is to also organise your vocabulary notebook by semantic categories. This will help you to store these words mentally, and facilitate learning them.

Categories can include similar concepts (for example, animals, food, travel), word forms (nouns that end in -ship, verb forms, phrasal verbs) or functions (expressions for requesting help, formulas for writing formal letters, etc.), just to name a few. You can think of this organised notebook as a Word Bank, since you can deposit new vocabulary into your notebook from time to time.

Tomorrow we will give you ideas for setting up and using your vocabulary lists to help you remember new words. If you would like a sample Ziggurat Word Bank, send us a message at contact us.

Remember to post any questions about today's Daily Vitamin in the Daily Vitamin Plus! forum section on our website.

Have a pleasant day!