How to improve English Vocabulary? - How to speak English fluently

"How to improve English vocabulary?" This is a question that students often ask me in our coaching centers. As you know, these days General English paper is very common in many competitive exams including Civil Services Exams. Of course, in some exams, this paper is of a qualifying nature while in some, the marks obtained by the candidates in this paper are counted to decide their merit rank.

- Tips to improve English skills:

In my attempt to answer the above question, I instead ask my students questions such as "How many of them habitually read English newspapers? Do they watch English programs on TV? How often do they write or speak in English?" ?" My intention in asking these questions is to impress upon them the fact that in building a good vocabulary, the four basic skills of reading, writing, speaking, and listening play a decisive role.

“Reading makes a man perfect; conference a ready man; and writing a precise man", said the English essayist Bacon. Newspapers and magazines are a rich source of living vocabulary and its usage. Experienced journalists and seasoned writers use words, phrases, and idioms at the right place and at the right time. Reading exposes young people to the knowledge and practices of using words and their various forms contextually and situationally. In particular, these authors show readers how to use formal and informal words and avoid slang and taboo. How to avoid using words.

It is a pity that most of our youth develop the habit of reading newspapers and magazines very late in life. Certainly, at the college level, textbooks, and coursework help students in a limited way. When selected newspapers and magazines find a permanent place in the curriculum at least from the upper primary level, it helps young people build up a good vocabulary and gives them a good working knowledge of English.

It goes without saying that this reading habit should go hand in hand with the other three language skills. Hearing people speak English and watching programs give young people much-needed auditory and oral exposure to the different shades of words and their meanings.

Last but not least, writing skills will eventually reinforce all language knowledge gained using the other three skills. Daily writing of a few sentences and a few short descriptive paragraphs gives a structured form to the vocabulary. This is an important stage in building a sound and strong vocabulary. It is more rewarding and enjoyable when it is done in the form of short activities, word-building games, and crossword puzzles.

- How to speak English fluently:

Check out this short "fill in the blank" exercise taken from the book "Words" by John Seeley. It is a type of game played with friends who take turns supplying a word to complete a sentence and bring out different shades of meaning;

'Please leave me alone,' he ........

Seely himself gives about 25 words such as 'said, shouted, gasped, shouted, sobbed, etc.', each of them when used in the blank to convey a different mood of the speaker. Such games help young ones to learn the subtle differences in the use of words.

Finally, no one denies the role of dictionaries, thesauruses, and serious literary works in helping young people deal with their vocabulary issues. It is only when youngsters have a strong foundation in general vocabulary, then they can really enjoy reading Shakespeare, Jane Austen, RK Narayan, Chetan Bhagat and all.

In short, improving English vocabulary largely requires planned pedagogical support, driven by a sustained effort by the learner and supported by a nose for new words.

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