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Should you try to learn new words directly from a dictionary? It depends on your learning style and your preference. Some people will become bored very quickly while reading a dictionary, while others will find it fascinating.
All dictionaries are not alike, and you may find a certain version far more useful than rest. Good dictionaries will do more than just give a definition of a word. Some will show you an example of word used in a sentence. Often they will show you alternate spellings, and give plural forms of nouns and past tense of verbs. Most dictionaries will show you correct pronunciation. Some will tell you historical derivation of word. Many English words have their roots in ancient Anglo-Saxon, French, or German.
Language is always evolving and new words are being created every day. New words can come from technology, from scientific discoveries, from other languages, from pop culture, and from streets. When learning new vocabulary, you can better integrate it into your brain if you actively involve yourself in learning process.
When you encounter a new word, write out a definition of it in your own words, and write one or more sentences using new word in context. Visualize word in its printed form. Say word out loud, and spell it out loud. Say a sentence out loud that uses new word. Make up an image in your mind that will help you remember word. If you make image funny or bizarre, you will probably remember it better.
To improve your use of language and your ability to think, practice summarizing theme of an entire article or book using just one or two paragraphs. After you have read an article or book, try writing out two different versions summarizing your ideas. Do one version using very simple, everyday words. Make it as clear and simple as you possibly can while still maintaining accuracy. Do another version that uses very complex sentences and advanced vocabulary, like you imagine a university professor might write.
This will give your brain a good work-out and increase your verbal and mental flexibility.
If you are committed to expanding your vocabulary, how many new words should you try to learn in a day? It’s up to you. Just two new words a day will add up to more than 7000 words in ten years. Ten words a day would add 36,000 words in ten years.
Once you have learned a lot of new words, should you work them into your conversation every chance you get? The kind of vocabulary you use should always be appropriate to context in which you are writing or speaking. For example, if you are speaking to a group of high school dropouts you may want to use different words than if you are speaking to a group of scientists.
Don’t use an impressive vocabulary merely as a means of showing off, always using big words when small ones would do. People can often intuitively feel when you are using fancy words merely for effect, and not because you need them to communicate.
But if your new vocabulary really has become a part of you and has a useful place in your writing and conversation, by all means, go ahead and use it!
Royane Real is the author of several self improvement books. This article is taken from her new book "How To Be Smarter - Use Your Brain to Learn Faster, Remember Better and Be More Creative" Get the paperback version, or download it at http://www.lulu.com/real