[General] How to learn English vocabulary ?

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iamthebest

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Vocabulary is the most difficult problem that all english learners must deal with, and so am I . I learn English not only for me, but also for the University Entrance Exam and The Olympic English Contest. But I'd like to say that it takes me TOO MUCH time to learn new words (or new phrasal verbs, idioms,...blah...blah..blah...) that I see while I am doing the exercises ( self - study ). For example, I have to do something like looking up the words in the dictionary, taking notes...Therefore, the speed of finishing the the exercise books is TOO SLOW. And I can forget most of them on the next day. I know that hard-work is not enough, when I have decided to join this race, only the better is the winner. Can you help me ?
 

emsr2d2

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Vocabulary comes with practice. Some people can learn a word a day, or ten words a day etc but the system doesn't work for everyone. Don't just do exercises from textbooks. Read in English as often as you can. Read newspapers, magazines, websites - as long as they're written in decent, formal English, you will pick up a lot of vocabulary. Don't look up every single word you read. You've already found that that takes too long. Frequently, you can guess at the meaning of a word from the context and the words around it. Listen to English radio but don't concentrate on it. Just play it in the background as often as you can. Watch films and TV shows in English if you can. Watch videos on ted.com. Again, don't stress about every single word. The more you read/listen/watch, the more you will pick up.

As far as your written English is concerned, remember the following:

- Start every sentence with a capital letter.
- Always capitalise the word "I".
- End every sentence with a single appropriate punctuation mark(full stop, question mark, exclamation mark).
- Do not put a space before a comma, full stop, question mark or exclamation mark.
- Put a space after a comma, full stop, question mark or exclamation mark.
- The ellipsis (...) has a particular use. Don't use put several full stops together for no reason.
 

Tdol

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For example, I have to do something like looking up the words in the dictionary, taking notes...Therefore, the speed of finishing the the exercise books is TOO SLOW. And I can forget most of them on the next day. I know that hard-work is not enough, when I have decided to join this race, only the better is the winner. Can you help me ?

Learning long list of words is generally a very ineffective way of learning vocabulary- they go into short-term memory and are forgotten quickly. It's better to learn fewer words and recycle them- keep on practising them until they go into long-term memory.

Also, knowing how to use words is very important- simply having a big vocabulary does not make a person fluent.
 

Tdol

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PS Learning all the forms a word can have is an efficient way of expanding your vocabulary For example, you could learn quick, but you could also learn quick (adj + noun)/quickly/quicken and expressions like to the quick. It will reinforce your memory of the original word and allow you to use it more widely.
 

iamthebest

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But in fact, if I learn only a few words a day, it seems like I can't keep up with the programme. Because I think a lot of new words in the next exercises are waiting for me !
In my country, The Olympic English Contest is about from CAE to IELTS level. So our general English knowledge must be very good to achieve a high goal. It consists a large amount of words and we must be excellent at reading and wrting skills, especially at our vocabulary ( and phrasal verbs, idioms, too ). I also have read many articles about the way of learning new words but still haven't found the solution to my problem ( and many others, too). Please help me :cry:
 

5jj

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Please help me
There is no magic solution. Tdol and ems have made some useful suggestions, and you say you have read many articles. If these don't work for your particular learning style, then you'll have to try to come up with some other thoughts yourself.
 

emsr2d2

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But in fact, if I learn only a few words a day, it seems like I can't keep up with the programme. Because I think a lot of new words in the next exercises are waiting for me! (don't put a space between the letter and the exclamation mark)

Then you need to stop worrying about the next chapter, the next set of exercises, and the next list of words. Concentrate on the exercise you are doing right now and keep doing it until you're sure you've got it. There is no point moving on if you've only learnt half the vocabulary and only half-learnt the grammar. If the programme is going too fast for your learning speed, then you might need to find a slower course or postpone your entry into the contest. People do not learn at the same speed. If you spend all your time panicking about the contest and convincing yourself that you're not going to be ready for it, then you will spend more time worrying than learning.
 

JarekSteliga

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But in fact, if I learn only a few words a day, it seems like I can't keep up with the programme. Because I think a lot of new words in the next exercises are waiting for me !
In my country, The Olympic English Contest is about from CAE to IELTS level. So our general English knowledge must be very good to achieve a high goal. It consists a large amount of words and we must be excellent at reading and wrting skills, especially at our vocabulary ( and phrasal verbs, idioms, too ). I also have read many articles about the way of learning new words but still haven't found the solution to my problem ( and many others, too). Please help me :cry:

NOT A TEACHER / not a native speaker (which for once - I believe - actually increases my qualification to partake in this thread)

Learning a foreign language from textbooks / films / TV programmes is an uphill struggle and the results (the more ambitious you are the more true this holds) are bound to be meagre. How do I know? Because I have been at it for the past 30 plus years.

If you want to learn a foreign language you must mingle with the natives in their natural environment for years. There are no two ways about it.

Another depressing thought is that once you have learned a language reasonably well and then return to your own country, do not expect it (the language) to stay in good shape for very long. Even your own mother tongue will quickly degenerate withouth continuous interaction with its native speakers.


Why bother at all then? Well, in this day and age, some knowledge of a foreign language gives you the possibility to eavesdrop on the world over the Internet for entertainment or learning whatever interests you. You do not have to be a fluent speaker. Being just a good listener/reader is good enough.

Then, learning a foreign language can be fun on its own merit. It is (apart from everything else) a sort of mental diversion like chess, sudoku, crosswords indulging in which produces some added benefit of being (sort of) able to talk to foreigners in an emergency on a basic level and perhaps passing a language exam at some level.
 

iamthebest

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Thank you very much. I found your replies really useful. So the Olympic English Test is coming in 2 months. What I should do from now ? :)
 
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