So many words, so little time...

So many words, so little time...
by Andrzej, April 2003

Phrasal verbs, synonyms, false friends, words that keep us up at night ... Is it possible to possess good vocabulary while living outside of an English speaking country? With some dedication it certainly is. There are many good ways to expand your vocabulary. Not all of them work for everyone, as we are all different and each of us has been equipped with a unique mind and unique abilities to absorb and retain new knowledge. Allow me to share a few methods that worked for me when I was learning English in Poland.
Wyrazenia frazowe, synonimy, "falszywi przyjaciele", slowa ktore nie daja nam spac po nocach ... Czy jest mozliwe posiasc dobre slownictwo mieszkajac w kraju, w ktorym nie mowi sie na codzien po angielsku? Przy pewnej dawce poswiecenia zapewne tak. Jest wiele dobrych sposobow na rozwiniecie zasobu slownictwa. Nie wszystkie sa dobre dla kazdego, bo wszyscy roznimy sie od siebie i kazdy z nas zostal wyposazony w odmienny, jedyny w swoim rodzaju rozum i rozne od siebie mozliwosci nabywania i odtwarzania wiedzy. Pozwolcie, ze podziele sie z Wami kilkoma metodami, ktore pomogly mi kiedy uczylem sie angielskiego w Polsce.  

1. Index cards - small cards on which you can write words, phrases or even sentences. Here is an example:


Side one:

 

gullible ['ga-lybl] adj.

You are so gullible! It is so easy to play a joke on you!

Side two:

naiwny, ktos kogo mozna latwo oszukac

 

You can use these index cards when you're riding a bus, waiting for a bus, riding in the car with someone (don't use them while you're driving, PLEASE). They don't take much space and are a great tool to improve your word power. You can set goals for yourself, for example: This week I WILL learn 42 new words/expressions and I WILL learn to use them in their right context.
Mozesz uzywac tych karteczek podczas jazdy autobusem, na przystanku, jadac z kims w samochodzie (nie uzywaj ich gdy prowadzisz samochod, Pliiiiiiiiiiiiz). Nie zajma Ci one duzo miejsca i okaza sie swietnym narzedziem do poprawienia slownictwa. Mozesz ustalic sobie cele, na przyklad: w tym tygodniu NAUCZE sie 42. nowych slow/wyrazen i NAUCZE sie jak ich uzywac w odpowiednim kontekscie.
2. Learning individual words is not everything. You have to be able to apply them in real life situations. This is where your creativity comes in handy. Let's say that you have learned 6 new words (some experts believe that 6 new words per lesson is "just what the doctor ordered"). One of the fun things you can do is write a short story or a dialog which will incorporate all of these newly learned words. Example:
Uczenie sie poszczegolnych slow to jeszcze nie wszystko. Musisz umiec zastosowac je w sytuacjach zycia codziennego. To wlasnie tutaj z pomoca przychodzi Twoja kreatywnosc. Powiedzmy, ze nauczyles/as sie szesciu nowych slow (niektorzy znawcy uwazaja, ze 6 nowych slow na jedna lekcje to "wlasnie to czego nam potrzeba"). Mozesz zabawic sie w napisanie historyjki albo dialogu, w ktorym zastosujesz wszystkie dopiero co poznane nowe slowa. Przyklad:

New words/phrases:

gullible
oversleep
meticulous
endeavor
humidity
liver
naiwny
zaspac
drobiazgowy
przygoda, wyzwanie
wilgotnosc (powietrza)
watroba

 

Is it even possible to connect these words so that they make a logical story? Maybe. But who says it has to be logical? It doesn't. It has to be a STORY, because it is a lot easier for us to remember a story than a string of unrelated, random words. So here is the story:
Czy to w ogole jest mozliwe aby polaczyc te slowa w taki sposob aby stworzyly logiczne opowiadanie? Byc moze. Ale po co nam logika? Potrzebna nam jest HISTORIA, bo o wiele latwiej jest nam zapamietac historie anizeli szereg niezwiazanych ze soba, przypadkowych slow. No to jest historia:

2. Learning individual words is not everything. You have to be able to apply them in real life situations. This is where your creativity comes in handy. Let's say that you have learned 6 new words (some experts believe that 6 new words per lesson is "just what the doctor ordered"). One of the fun things you can do is write a short story or a dialog which will incorporate all of these newly learned words. Example:
Uczenie sie poszczegolnych slow to jeszcze nie wszystko. Musisz umiec zastosowac je w sytuacjach zycia codziennego. To wlasnie tutaj z pomoca przychodzi Twoja kreatywnosc. Powiedzmy, ze nauczyles/as sie szesciu nowych slow (niektorzy znawcy uwazaja, ze 6 nowych slow na jedna lekcje to "wlasnie to czego nam potrzeba"). Mozesz zabawic sie w napisanie historyjki albo dialogu, w ktorym zastosujesz wszystkie dopiero co poznane nowe slowa. Przyklad:

My English teacher is very GULLIBLE. Yesterday I was late for class.She asked me what had happened and I told her that I had missed the bus. The truth is that I had OVERSLEPT. If she was METICULOUS maybe she could find out the truth, but she didn't really seem to care. Perhaps it is because this is her last month in our school and then she is moving to South Carolina. I know she is looking forward to this ENDEAVOR, because she keeps talking about it. I also know she is not looking forward to the HUMIDITY that is there. With her LIVER condition, it might be quite difficult in the summertime.

Now - isn't it that easier than trying to hammer all these words into your head? Starting with GULLIBLE ... Hmmm, why was she gullible? Oh! I know, she believed my lie. What did I lie about? Oh! I know! I told her that I had OVERSLEPT! etc. etc. 3. Read, read, read. Magazines, web sites, newspapers. Make notes. Chat on the net in English. Don't just sit on that toilet - sit and flip through a dictionary :) If you have any questions about anything that has to do with vocabulary - post it on our forum.

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