02Getting the Most from Vocabulary!

by Danny K. Howard, EAP Associate Director

When you think about it, reading is a very important skill to acquire at NIC. If you take a look at what reading can do for you, you will understand the key role that it plays in language learning.

Vocabulary Learning is important because it...

  1. helps you to recognize words in listening and reading tasks.
  2. builds vocabulary for speaking.
  3. is important for writing activities.

Vocabulary has no meaning if you cannot remember how to use it in speaking situations or if you cannot recall its meaning when you hear it in conversations or see it in print. So here’s an idea to make your vocabulary more meaningful to you in your learning.

A Vocabulary Log

A Vocabulary Log is a vocabulary journal of new words. Many Japanese make something like this when they are in high school, but they focus too much on translation of the words rather than on learning them. So this idea is an improved way to learn vocabulary and how it’s used in everyday language.

How to make it...

Just get a B5 journal and an English dictionary to take advantage of all the English around you! Then look for English on TV, on DVDs, in magazines, in books, from friends, or anywhere. The goal is to increase your vocabulary by 5 - 10 words each day. Just think, if you learn 10 words a day, you will learn over 3,500 new words in a year!

* If you are coming to NIC this year, you will be required to buy an English Dictionary along with your new textbooks, so don’t buy one before you begin classes this April.

In the Vocabulary Log include:

  1. The word in context – the source & how it was used
  2. Your guess of what the word means – don’t be afraid...just guess!
  3. A short definition & part of speech in English – choose the meaning based on how the word was used. Don’t write out several meanings!
  4. An original sentence in context – this means try to write a sentence that shows the meaning & one that uses key words, familiar people, places, and events.

Here’s an example:

Word in Context:
on Ally McBeal: “The court selected a jury for the case.”
Guess:
lawyer???
Word:
Jury
Part of Speech:
noun
Meaning:
a group of people who decide who wins a court case
Original Sentence:
The court jury decided that the criminal should go to prison.

Here’s another example:

Word in Context:
in a music magazine: “Craig David’s lyrics are very good.”
Guess:
song???
Word:
lyrics
Part of Speech:
noun
Meaning:
the words of a song
Original Sentence:
When Akiko and I sang at karaoke, we read the lyrics on the TV.

By using familiar people, places, and key clues in the original sentences, you can remember the words better and recall them in future situations. Remember, just translating helps you to remember the word for only a short period of time, but this Vocabulary Journal is for long-term acquisition of the word. Start thinking of vocabulary in English and you will begin to improve your way of learning overall. Try it out and watch your vocabulary grow!

Take Care,
Danny K. Howard
EAP Associate Director