Learn­ing vo­cab­u­lary the SMART way

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Education Guide -

MANY peo­ple learn­ing English find ex­tend­ing their com­mand of vo­cab­u­lary to be both dif­fi­cult and daunt­ing. They know they need to learn more words but are of­ten at a loss on where to start.

At the Bri­tish Coun­cil, highly trained teach­ers can help stu­dents nav­i­gate this dif­fi­cult area of English by de­vel­op­ing life­long strate­gies that can make learn­ing eas­ier and more suc­cess­ful.

Re­search shows you need to en­counter a new word sev­eral times in dif­fer­ent con­texts be­fore you can re­ally un­der­stand, re­mem­ber and use it well.

The key here is to learn new words as you find them in con­text, as they are used nat­u­rally by English writ­ers and speak­ers.

Choos­ing from a va­ri­ety of au­then­tic me­dia and top­ics you are in­ter­ested in or that are im­por­tant for your work is a good place to start.

You can draw on in­spi­ra­tion from on­line blogs or news­pa­per ar­ti­cles, for in­stance. Watch­ing English films or lis­ten­ing to pod­casts is also a great way to learn new vo­cab­u­lary as it is used in nat­u­ral speech.

As you lis­ten or read any new vo­cab­u­lary, write down the phrase it’s used in and then use a dictionary if you aren’t sure of the pre­cise mean­ing.

The other ad­van­tage of ex­tend­ing your vo­cab­u­lary this way is you’re more likely to be learn­ing new words re­lated to the same topic, which can also im­prove the like­li­hood of re­ten­tion.

This way, you’re build­ing your com­mand of vo­cab­u­lary from in­ter­est­ing and use­ful sources, mean­ing the whole process is more fun and less mo­not­o­nous than just sim­ply trawl­ing through the dictionary.

Once you’ve found your new vo­cab­u­lary, what’s the best way of re­mem­ber­ing it?

Flash­cards are a tried and tested way to learn vo­cab­u­lary. What’s im­por­tant here is to record use­ful in­for­ma­tion about the new word or phrase.

For ex­am­ple, you might write the word on one side of the flash­card and on the back in­clude the mean­ing, a trans­la­tion, the pro­nun­ci­a­tion, words with sim­i­lar or op­po­site mean­ing or an ex­am­ple of a per­son­alised sen­tence. In­clude any­thing that is go­ing to help you re­mem­ber and use the word ef­fec­tively.

Keep the flash­cards handy and quiz your­self reg­u­larly through­out the day, fo­cus­ing on a few words at a time.

If you are tech-savvy and pre­fer an elec­tronic version, there is a plethora of web­sites and phone apps to help with this. A good place to start is Qui­zlet. There isn’t re­ally a secret recipe – it all comes down to reg­u­lar prac­tice.

En­rolling in a SMART English course at the Bri­tish Coun­cil can help you de­velop and con­sol­i­date vo­cab­u­lary learn­ing strate­gies and en­counter vo­cab­u­lary in a va­ri­ety of con­texts.

There are also aca­demic ad­vis­ers who can pro­vide one-to-one sup­port, so if any stu­dent needs ex­tra help with vo­cab­u­lary or any other as­pect of learn­ing English, help is at hand.

■ If you are in­ter­ested in find­ing out more about the Bri­tish Coun­cil’s English lan­guage cour­ses for adults, visit www.british­coun­cil. my/adults to find out more.

En­rolling in a SMART English course at the Bri­tish Coun­cil can help you de­velop and con­sol­i­date vo­cab­u­lary learn­ing strate­gies and en­counter vo­cab­u­lary in a va­ri­ety of con­texts.

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