General advice to learning English vocabulary
AbstractLearning new vocabulary you need to know what to learn, namely how many words in English, how many words does the average English speaker use in everyday speech, how many words make up 50% of everything written in English. It will enhance the process of teaching vocabulary to your students. You have also to remember that there are words which you need simply to understand when you read or hear them (receptive vocabulary) and words you need to be able to use yourself (productive vocabulary0. Clearly you need to spend the most time learning the last group. Learning a new word it is important to know the words it is usually associated with; to know its grammatical characteristics; its phonological form. It is also very important to learn new words in phrases, not in isolation. For example: write down adjectives and nouns that are often associated, e.g. classical music, common sense, native speaker; write down verbs and nouns that form expressions, e.g. to express an opinion, to take place; write down nouns in appropriate phrases, e.g. to get in touch with, a sense of humor; write down words with their preposition, e.g. to look for, at a glance, thanks in advance. Note special grammar characteristics of new words. Note special pronunciation problems of new words. Here are some advice about what you should do when you come across new words. When you are reading something in English, do not stop to look up every new word or expression: it slows down your reading and your comprehension. Look up only those words that are really important for understanding the text. When you have finished reading, look back at what you have read and then probably look up some extra words and write down new expressions you are interested in. Similarly when you listen to English, do not pause when you hear words or expressions that you do not know. Keep listening for the overall meaning. When you read or listen to English, it is sometimes possible to guess the meaning of a word you do not know before you look it up or ask its meaning. Decide first what part of speech the word is, and then look for clues in its context or form. It is very important to review new words. Reviewing is especially useful for remembering new staff in the target language. It entails reviewing at different intervals, at first close together and then increasingly far apart. Naturally, the amount of time needed to make new stuff automatic depends on the kind of stuff involved.
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