Two ways for intermediate students of English to improve their vocabulary
If you are an intermediate student of English with a working knowledge of English verb conjugations, then here are a couple of ways for you to experiment with in order to increase your vocabulary.
I believe the best way to learn a foreign language is to immerse yourself in it and use it as much as possible. My hope is that making a children's dictionary to be the default dictionary on a Kindle e-reader and reading fiction meant for 8-10 year-old's will help provide you with an immersion experience in English.
Why a dictionary in English? A dictionary in English will keep you thinking in English rather than constantly switching back and forth between your native language and English. Why a children's dictionary? When using a standard adult dictionary, you will often encounter terms in the definition that are just as hard to understand as the one you are looking up. A children's dictionary uses much easier to understand words and describes definitions with simpler explanations. On the other hand, The Miriam Webster's Dictionary for Children has 36,000 entries. This is enough to define pretty much all the words you are likely to encounter reading books for 8-12 year old children, and probably almost all the words you will find in non-specialized adult reading as well. Why read on a Kindle? As you are reading on a Kindle, you just need to press and hold on the word you don't know and a definition will instantly pop up. It is very quick and convenient.
The problem with this approach is the cost of the Kindle reader - in the US, about $120. The Kindle version of the children's dictionary is just $10. And I would recommend reading the 8-book series of Anne of Green Gables for which the copyright has expired. Because these books are in the public domain, they are available for $.99.
I purchased the Kindle version of the Merriam-Webster's Dictionary for Children and made it the default dictionary for my Kindle. I also purchased Kindle version of the 8 book Anne of Green Gables series (/public domain/copyright free/) for just 99 cents. Everything worked just as I had hoped. I tried looking up about 20 harder words in the first Anne of Green Gables novel and there was a dictionary entry for every one of them. I also looked up several harder words in an adult novel by Dostoevsky and there was a dictionary entry for each of those as well. The language in the copyright free version of Anne of Green Gables is occasionally a bit /dated/old/ but I think quite usable. If you would like to see for yourself, you can look up sample selections of these books on Google Books.
The second way to increase your vocabulary is this. I assume that you have made use of Google Translate. Have you ever put in English text and translated it into your native language, and double clicked on a word on the English side? If you do this, down below, Google Translate provides the pronunciation of the word and its definition in English. Most of the time, it also provides a list of synonyms, a list of links about terms which contain the word you double-clicked on, how this English word is translated into various words in your native language, along with how these words in your native language can be translated into English. In addition, if you click on the large down arrow at the bottom to see more, you will get a list of examples of the uses of the word you double-clicked on (be sure to click on the down arrow under examples to see the full list). If you are not already familiar with what I just explained, here is a sample you can try in Google Translate:
Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. She has spent the past ten years studying vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame. She spent the first five years of her decade-long study focusing on shame and empathy, and is now using that work to explore a concept that she calls Wholeheartedness. She poses the questions:
You don't get much if you double click on the word vulnerability. But if you double click on the word concept, you get a lot, including 29 examples.