Increasing Word Usage for New Language Learners
Whenever a student learns a new tense or sees a new usage for a word, he may overlook the need to incorporate new words into his vocabulary. Over the years a small proportion of new language learners have made that special effort to increase their word usage and so language coaches and authors have offered the following solutions to get the person from one level to the next. Obviously the purpose has not been to get the person to learn every word at once; effort has been made to divide these words into levels that correspond to that at which the learner has been comfortable. Here is a list of ten suggestions given to these new language speakers and to people in general wanting to be more articulating in English.
1) Letting them see what their language strengths are. Many new speakers have not thought introspectively to see what interests them to the point of furthering their knowledge. Learning English is often seen as learning an amorphous amount of knowledge geared to increasing ones grammar and his use of verbs. Grammar and verbs are not everything.
2) Getting the student to read graded books could introduce the student to a higher level of word usage. These books will have a glossary of new words at the back or a mention of the new meaning at the bottom of the page that the reader can refer to.
3) The student should be encouraged to read a text with the new word and try to understand its meaning without looking up its meaning. This will function to keep the person’s attention on the text without distractions and will often contribute to his sense of confidence, the lack of which is one of the greatest obstacles in his acquisition of new words.
4) In speaking exercises students should be allowed to reiterate information that they have just read or be able to create new sentences that summarize what they heard. This may be achieved through exercises and activities where the student is given a title of an imaginary newspaper article and it may also be practiced by listening to tape or watching a small video clip that interests him.
5) Other activities should be integrated into exercises that just concentrate on the acquisition of a new meaning so that at least the person may learn subliminally another language element. Much of what is learnt is not taught directly, the student is present with all his senses and can pick up nuances of new phonetic sounds that he can then incorporate to other words that will have a similar structure in the future.
6) Vocabulary builders, idiomatic texts and phrasal verbs could and should be integrated in course work and the student can be proactive by picking up material, which he will benefit from. A musical artist will look for words that have a particular tone if he is conscious of their form and meaning and he is in the business of writing his own lyrics in English. Another person may be made more conscious of the value of using new idiomatic expressions when socializing.
7) Vocabulary building is not only the acquisition of new words it is also the understanding of how words that the learner knows can be used to build new words. Here is where he can discover compound words made of two nouns or a preposition and a noun in order to vary his speech and be more articulate. He can learn these as a separate list, thus seeing a common root to all those words.
8) Another method of learning words is by studying their synonyms or words that have similar meanings and can be used to be more specific regarding the intention the speaker had when speaking. Here is where the new or old speaker can appreciate the many ways of walking without using the word walk repetitiously, or the other words that can best describe the type of cut without using that word over and over again. Indirectly this knowledge can also be used to build this person’s ability in bettering his writing style.
9) Continued conversational practice will expose the learner to new idiomatic expressions, phrasal verbs and other words. He can then note them down and look them up or ask their meaning on the spot so as to satisfy his urge in being a more independent speaker.
10) The new speaker can begin studying a subject in the new language so as to confirm his new language acquisition. This can be done when the person feels comfortable enough to accept the new challenge. Similarly when a person knows a film in his own language he could theoretically watch that same film in English and be able to associate those new expressions into his native language with little effort.
The above suggestions can be suggested to language learners by their coaches and can be applied directly by those who have been brave or introspective enough to look up means of improving their word usage without having to wait for someone to address the issue.