21 / 11 / 2006


Hello again.

Many students often complain about having limited English vocabulary. I usually answer this complaint with, "what are you doing to improve your vocabulary knowledge?" Unfortunately, the answer is often, "nothing."

For the next few days we will review systems that can help you to learn new vocabulary. Some of these ideas were originally featured in Daily Vitamins sent in September of 2004.

Almost everything we do with English exposes us to new words and helps us improve our vocabulary: reading, watching original-version films, writing, etc. However, if you really want to pass new words to long-term memory, you must actively do something with them. You can't just write them down in your notebook and expect them to be memorised automatically.

English Word Bank
One of my favourite tools for learning and organising new vocabulary is a word bank. This is a Word or Excel document, notebook or folder where you record new words into different meaning categories. Neuro-linguistic studies have shown that our brain remembers words in semantic groups (or meaning categories). In other words, we remember similar words together. For example, the word "apple" is stored near "orange" and "banana" and other fruits, not with "bicycle." Relating new words with already-known words will help you to pass them to long-term memory.

With this message we have attached a copy of a Ziggurat word bank. This document is meant to be a suggestion for setting up a word bank. You won't necessarily use the document as it is, but we hope it will inspire you to create your own. Students who set up and use a word bank really do improve their vocabulary knowledge. I promise.

Please post any questions or comments about today's Daily Vitamin in the Daily Vitamin Plus! forum section on our website.

Enjoy your day!