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Let's find a really working solution to widen a vocabulary

Hello dear community.

I am not so newbie here and I took a lot of lessons with really professional teachers. Yes, thanks to them, I started to talk! Before I started to get lessons here I was able only to read some technical things about and around my job. 

After 4-6 months of learning I thought I can speak good enough and I can understand good enough but.... Last month I traveled to Canada and I was really surprised. I was able to explain what exactly I want but to understand the people for me was something terrible :) Ok, I understood that 4-6 month of lessons for 2 times per week is not enough to learn a language, but I felt I need to widen my vocabulary three times to be "somebody who can speak English"

I tried to use a program named Memrise - www.memrise.comThis is a software for remembering words. But I know and remember studied words only when I use the program. So, I decided that this "is not my cup of tea".

Next thing I found it is  but it's only for listening skills, I think. If I can hear and understand I can say...No, I understand but I do not remember anything when I close my browser. 

I tried to read books for intermediate students. These books are adopted to low-level English students and it's really good thing: Perfect, but it is VERY slow. 

Now I am looking for better solution. I need (really!) to pass IELTS for 6.0 or more and I am really do not what to do :(

Is somebody have some new ideas?  Now I am looking for some new job with English-only environment but for Israel it is not so simple.

I will be happy to join some community where I can chat, maybe speak.

I work as Computer Specialist so I will be happy to give some advice to users in exchange for real conversations. Not like with teachers but to be in really situation.

Please feel free to write me

Aug 6, 2016 5:07 PM
Comments · 8

Part I:
Every student faces different challenges, at different points, so my ability to diagnose your issues from a single discussion post, and suggest some solutions in a brief comment is rather limited.

Your post generally shows a good use of vocabulary and is understandable, although there are still some basic grammar issues (verb tense and such). As the others have suggested, reading is generally the best way to build vocabulary, but I doubt that that is your problem. People always blame vocabulary, but the real issue usually lies elsewhere. I’ll bet your English vocabulary is larger than that of a seven year old native speaker, and yet, the seven year old would probably find it easier to communicate in Canada. What makes you think vocabulary is an issue — do you have examples?

Maximum leverage:
1. Make sure your pronunciation is as accurate as possible. Vowel phonemes, consonants, rhythm, intonation, and phrasing. There’s not much to learn in order to achieve a really good pronunciation, unlike vocabulary, which is practically infinite.

August 6, 2016

One of the very best things you can do to improve your vocabulary is read! Read as often as you can. Novels, non-fiction books, short stories, blogs, news articles, song lyrics, even things like recipes and instruction manuals! Don't just read something and then never look at it again, keep going back to what you have read before. Building vocabulary is a time consuming process, and our brains need to engage with a word many many times, over and over again before it can recall it quickly and easily.  

Just chatting to people is not the best way to improve vocabulary, in my opinion. When we chat to people, we can only use words that we have learnt and can recall easily. There is very little opportunity during normal conversation to actually learn new words, unless you are going to sit there and write down every word the other person uses that you don't know, stop them constantly to ask what it means and so on.  

A resource I find very helpful for vocabulary is Anki intelligent flashcards. This program allows you to create flashcards you create yourself or import other users decks they have shared. The reason this program is so effective is it uses spaced repetition programming. You tell Anki how well you remember the word and it decides when you need to see it again.  

Another point to bear in mind is try to not be completely random when it comes to learn vocabulary. Just trying to remember large amounts of unrelated words is very difficult. Try to learn vocabulary in groups, focusing on one topic at a time. 

There are no shortcuts to increasing our vocabulary, only time and hard work will do it. 

August 6, 2016

I understand your problem as I'm also working on my vocabulary skill.I can speak but not fluent enough.But I was confident that I could speak with native speaker and also understand what they said,But listening to your situations in Canada,I think,I've to ponder again:)The problem in English language is that it is vast,I mean there are lots of words and if someone knows one word then s/he can not guarantee that the speaker in front of him/her also knows that as too many synonyms to one word(I often come across while reading newspaper).So I think, building vocabulary is a continuous process and not a one day job.So we should learn every day a little bit of it.But I think,while speaking we don't come across many new words(bombastic words),so while making conversation it is not a problem but while reading some articles or news, we often come across such words and the problem begins there.

But yes, while making conversation, pronunciation and accent play an important role to which we should pay attention more.

So please feel free to ask for any help though I'm not a native speaker and still learning and trying to improve my fluency:)

Please correct me if I'm wrong somewhere.Thank you:) 

August 6, 2016

Part II:
2. Makes sure your *basic* grammar is as accurate as possible. If you confuse simple past and simple present, there is no point in attempting to use compound tenses. Once you get the basics right, everything else will be easy. Again, there aren’t that many basic grammar points to master, and your comprehension will increase significantly. Native speakers will understand bad grammar, but you need a good grasp of the basic grammar to understand them.

3. Have realistic expectations. If an American goes to London on vacation, he’s going to have to get used to several different British accents, and even after that, there are different customs which are reflected in the language. For example, what are the exact phrases used to greet a waiter, order, ask for the check (UK: bill), the restroom (UK… look it up :), etc. The cuisine is different, so even an American wouldn’t even be familiar with some common British dishes, much less know what to call them. Even though the language is the same, courtesy formulas are less vocabulary, and more like customs, so they tend to be different everywhere. Solution: watch a local TV series before visiting.

August 6, 2016

I also use Anki but I found something I like even better this week, a chrome extension called Readlang web reader

It may not solve the problem of forgetting after you read, but it does make it easy to get the definitions and the part of it that functions like Anki is nice because it makes it so easy to add a word to the flashcards.  I really like that it keeps the context, a sentence or two instead of just the word.  

Personally, I think my passive vocabulary (the words I recognize when I see them or hear them) is pretty large because I watch 2-3 hours a day or television in my target language with subtitles in the target language.  My active vocabulary, the words I can actually use when I speak, is more frustrating. I think part of my frustration is that there is such a huge difference between the number of words I know well enough to recognize and the number of words that I remember so easily that I can actually use them in conversation without completely stopping in mid-sentence.

August 6, 2016
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English, Russian
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