Don’t concentrate on understanding every word when you read something. Read it first to understand the general concept. Then, go back and concentrate on the specific words that you don’t understand.
Build your vocabulary by learning prefixes and suffixes. These parts of speech change the meaning of root words.
Root word – happy
Root word + prefix – unhappy
Root word + suffix – happiest
Create word lists of words you have learned. Practice using these words every day when you write and try to use them at least four times a day when you are speaking.
Be sure to use the correct punctuation mark. Using the wrong punctuation can drastically change the meaning of your sentence.
As a statement: The dog was caught in the fence.
As a question: The dog was caught in the fence?
Watch DVDs, instead of live television, to hear American English speakers. Reason: With a DVD you can replay dialog over and over.
Be aware of the differences in American English versus British English…and then use the appropriate word. Sometimes the difference is just in the spelling. Sometimes the entire word is different.
Examples of American vs. British English:
Color vs. Colour
Football vs. Soccer
Flavor vs. Flavour
Honor vs. Honour
Practice, practice, practice. The more you speak, the more comfortable you will become speaking English. Encourage people to correct your mistakes.
No one available to listen? Then, record your voice or practice in front of a mirror.
The goal is to speak English as much as possible so that you get used to hearing your own voice speaking English.
Confident body language. Look others in the eye, call others by their name, generally smile or have a non-threatening look on their face, have good posture and an open stance. They appear at ease and are ready to talk to anyone. This comes across just by looking at them.
Avoid sarcasm. They know that it makes others feel disrespected, not to mention they appear insecure and defensive. Sarcasm tells others you can’t tolerate them or the conversation. While you may feel it diffuses uncomfortable feelings, in reality, it makes others frustrated, often wanting to avoid future interactions.
Keep their cool. No matter how heated the situation, they are able to stick to the facts and express their feelings with words rather than behaviors. No yelling, door slamming, threatening, or emotionally unregulated outbursts. They compartmentalize in hopes that they can be heard.
Listen and validate. They let the other person know they are being heard, giving them the same respect they hope to receive. Validation doesn’t mean you have to agree with the person; rather you are attempting to understand where they are coming from. I may not be able to understand what it feels like to have something happen, but I can be empathic with my words: “That must have been terrible. I’m sorry that happened.” It shows I am listening to them.
- Chill out. Get out of your tunnel vision of frustration and “I must be right” mentality and think about something completely off topic. Get mindful in the moment; even if you have to get mindful of how many tiles are on your floor (yes count), the lyrics to a song. Just stop thinking for one minute about the interaction you hope to have and the emotions that come with it. Obsessing about the outcome of a future event will only heighten your anxiety and make you less confident.
- Be mindful of the other person. Trying to have a conversation during their favorite TV show or after what appears to be a tough day may not be the best timing. Interrupting, or being neglectful of others’ time, is a big button pusher for many people. It’s invalidating and can make others feel as though you don’t care about what they are doing or their mood. If you don’t know when a good time would be, ask.
- Avoid the word “but”, instead use “and”. In any situation try to avoid “but” at all costs. It invalidates others and often causes the other person to feel defensive. “You did a great job on that project, but you should check your proofreading next time.” Wow, what a back-handed compliment! The listener doesn’t even hear the praise now. They are focused on what they did wrong. Using the word “and” instead forces you to change the outcome of the statement. “You did a great job on that presentation, and try to spell check a bit more if you can. I know it can be a hassle sometimes.”
- Be Fair. Don’t monopolize the conversation. Let other people talk. Really, hear them out, too.
- Avoid all or nothing thinking. The words, always and never, especially when accompanied by “you”, are generally not effective when trying to make a point. “He is always late or never on time” is not true. We are generalizing in an internal attempt to make them feel empathy for our frustration. It may be true that they are rarely on time. However, use a word that doesn’t have as much heat to it. Try “Often it feels like” or “Recently, I have noticed”. They are not all or nothing; they are more subjective, effective terms.
Learn a new word daily:
Learning is the only way to improvement and success. It is said that ‘The day you stop learning, your growth stops!’. So, make it a rule to learn at least one new word daily. And, bring it in your practice to use that word in your daily life either in your office reports, professional meeting or casual chatting with friends or colleagues.
You can refer to the dictionary and efficiently improve your daily writing tips. There are many sites offering the service of Word of the Day, which is quite helpful in learning new words.
Make your vocabulary practical:
Start by learning the words that can express what’s most important to you. For example, learn more of your trade language – the words that are commonly used in your business or hobby or vocation. Go beyond the jargon and cliches. Find better, fresher, more explicit words to express what your peers are talking about.
Read a lot:
Most vocabulary words are learned from context. The more words you’re exposed to, the better vocabulary you will have. While you read, pay close attention to words you don’t know. First, try to figure out their meanings from context. Then look the words up. Read and listen to challenging material so that you’ll be exposed to many new words.
Use mnemonics (memory tricks):
For example, consider the word EGREGIOUS (extremely bad). Think EGG REACH US – imagine we’ve made a mistake so bad that they are throwing eggs at us and a rotten EGG REACHes US. Such funny little word pictures will help you remember what words mean, and they are fun to make up. Also, find out which learning style suits you best. Everyone learns differently!
Play with words:
Play Scrabble, Boggle, and do crossword puzzles. These and other word games are available on the computer, so you are not dependent on a partner to play. Also, try out the Franklin Electronic Dictionary that features built-in word games. Many word games are available online too. You just need to take some time out and play to learn.
Start journaling if you don’t already, or start a blog. Actively flexing your writing muscles will keep your vocabulary strong. If you do not want to go online to share your thoughts, you can also start penning things in your diary. A diary has all the advantages of a blog when it comes to improving an English vocabulary, but it also is private – and you can carry it around everywhere.
Refer to the dictionary when you don’t recognize a word:
When you see an unfamiliar word, do not skip over it impatiently. Try to puzzle out its possible meaning in the context of the sentence, then look it up in the dictionary and confirm its definition. Keep a small notebook with you and quickly jot down unknown words as you come across them for checking later. If you hear or see a word you don’t know, be sure to look it up. Again having an app on your phone helps you do that. Also, you can also just search the unknown word on your mobile browser and learn its meaning.
Use flash cards:
If you’re going to make a habit of learning new words, try some simple memorization techniques as if you were studying for a test. Hang post-its with the definition of a particular word you hope to memorize above the coffee maker, so you can explore it while fixing your morning cup. Affix a new word to each house plant so you can study while watering.
Use accurate adjectives and precise nouns:
The best writers aim for concision and accuracy. Get out the thesaurus and use the more precise word possible in your sentences. Don’t use three words when one will do. A word is a useful addition to your vocabulary if it reduces the number of words in a sentence. Learn to say what you mean and discover the joys of being able to express yourself in writing. Your future can depend on how rich your vocabulary is. Let building your vocabulary be a lifelong proposition. Remember: “In the beginning was the word.” Until you have a word for something, it does not exist for you. Name it, and you have made your reality richer.