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Learn English Vocabulary Effectively

Extract from Oxford Word Skills Series


INTRODUCTION
A lot of students think that learning vocabulary is just learning more new words.
However, it is not enough to know only a word and its meaning. You also need to
know what other words it combines with to make natural expression in English.
Building a good vocabulary doesn’t mean memorizing long lists of difficult words.
It doesn’t mean spending long hours reading a dictionary, either. Your everyday
activities present plenty of opportunities to increase your word power.

The benefits of having the “right” words at your command are obvious. People who
can express themselves with precision and grace have a clear advantage over those
who can’t. They can count on themselves to speak confidently and write with self-
assurance. In competitive situations at school or on the job, language skills are an
enormous asset. In personal and social situations, the ability to communicate your
needs, thoughts, and feelings can make your relationships stronger and your life less
stressful.

The instruction in this book will give you access to some useful ways of learning
vocabulary. As you complete each lesson, try to integrate as many words as you
can into your speech and writing. While no amount of practice
can promise perfection, practice does guarantee improvement! And remember
that the best word to use is not necessarily long or fancy; it’s the one that
conveys the exact meaning you intend. Careful attention as you work your way
through this book is a wise investment in your future as a “great
communicator”!

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I-BASIC LEVEL
 Repeat the words two or three times to help you remember them.

 Write down new words in the notebook. Write the meaning in


English or in your own language, or draw a picture.

 Write the words in sentences. Say them to yourself.


 You can do the exercises in the review units, or the CD-ROM
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exercises, after each unit. Or do them a month later to test yourself.
 Look at the vocabulary building tables at the back of the book.

 Go to the website (www.macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/;


www.vi.glosbe.com/) for links to more practice and other useful websites
as the following.

www.myenglishteacher.eu//blog/category/infographics/
www.facebook.com/myenglishteachers
www.englishcentral.com/videos OR
www.vi.englishcentral.com/videos
www.myenglishteacher.eu/blog/category/dictionary/
www.phrasemix.com/

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 Use coloured pen to help you remember difficult words.

 Use a pencil. Check your answers, then rub them out and do them
again a week later.

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 Buy a good dictionary for your level. The Oxford Essential
Dictionary (Oxford University Press) is very good for elementary and
pre-intermediate learners.

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II-INTERMEDIATE LEVEL
 Repeat the phrases two or three times to help you remember them.

 Write down new words in the notebook. Write the meaning in English
or in your own language, or draw a picture.
 Write down any other important information about a word or a phrase,
e.g. words that often go together (a serious relationship) or constructions
with verbs (Regret the fact that). Write down your own example
sentences.

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 Use a highlighter pen to help you remember difficult words.

 Use a pencil for your exercises. Check your answers, then rub them
out and do them again a week later.

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 You can do the exercises in the review units, or the CD-ROM
exercises, after each unit. Or do them a month later to test yourself,
perhaps after you’ve studied all the units in that module (e.g. ‘The
world around us’).
 Look at the vocabulary building tables at the back of the book.

 Go to the website (www.macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/;


www.vi.glosbe.com/) for links to more practice and other useful websites
as the following.
www.myenglishteacher.eu//blog/category/infographics/ www.facebook.com/myenglishteachers
www.englishcentral.com/videos OR https://vi.englishcentral.com/videos
www.myenglishteacher.eu/blog/category/dictionary/ www.phrasemix.com/
 Buy a good dictionary for your level. The Oxford Wordpower
Dictionary (Oxford University Press) is very good for intermediate
learners.

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III-ADVANCED LEVEL
Six steps to a wider vocabulary
Here are six ways to help you achieve a wider vocabulary, and become a
more effective learner. Each one illustrates a feature of vocabulary learning
which is given particular emphasis at the advanced level of Oxford Word
Skills.
 Adding new meanings to familiar words
An important part of vocabulary expansion is learning new meanings
for familiar words.
What are the different meanings of still in these sentences?

Answers:
- stand still (adv): stand without moving (also keep/stay/sit still)
- better still (adv): even better (Still is used to make a comparison stronger)
- still (conj.) = mind you (inf.) (Still is used to add a further comment which is usually a
contrast or a surprise, but can also be an explanation).
 Understanding the figurative meaning of
vocabulary items
Many words have a literal meaning and a figurative meaning. For
Example, the literal meaning of crawl is to move forwards on your
hands and your knees, but we can also describe traffic as crawling
along the road. Which means that it is moving slowly.
What is the figurative meaning of the words in bold in these
sentences.

___________ _____________ ____________

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Answers:
- leak sth to sb: give secret information to journalists or the public.
- flood of sth/sb: appear a very large number of things or people at the same time.
- microscope (n): an instrument for looking at things which are too small to see.
 Expanding your knowledge of collocation
These common examples of collocation.
She’s an old friend. (= a friend I have known a long time)
I missed the bus. (= I wasn’t able to catch the bus)
It’s highly unlikely he’ll come (= It’s very unlikely he’ll come)
In English, we choose to combine certain words in order to express
particular meanings. Other languages might choose different words to
express the same ideas; for example, many in all three levels of
Oxford Word Skills, but in advanced there is an even greater emphasis
on this aspect of vocabulary learning.

 Using a wider range of idiomatic expressions


At an advanced level you should be able to use a wider range of
idiomatic expressions.

 Vocabulary building
At the end of a glossary entry for a particular word, we often include
Related word forms. Here is an example from Unit 53.

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We also provide vocabulary building tables at the book. Building
word families is an easy way to expand your vocabulary and increase
your range of expression.

 Vocabulary expansion beyond the book


At this level, we have introduced a new feature called more words.
After you have completed a unit and the review section for that unit,
more words gives you an opportunity to expand your vocabulary
further within the same topic or linguistic area. Here is an example,
from unit 9.

Suggested procedure with more words


 Look up the words and phrases listed in more words in a good
monolinguagual dictionary. In the Oxford Advanced Learner’s
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Dictionary, you will find that the meanings of the phrases are
explained at the entry for the word in bold, although it may be
different in some other dictionaries.
 Write the word or phrases in your notebook, then leave a small gap
before adding the meaning of the item. Below the meaning, write an
example sentence using the target word or phrase; take one from the
dictionary, or write your own.
For example:

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