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Sunday, June 5, 2016

EwR Vocabulary - The Importance of Vocabulary Words to Second Language Learners


The English language constantly adapts itself to the rapid changes that take place in our world. In fact, it’s surprising to learn that every 98 minutes a new vocabulary word is created in English. New words are created in order to describe the development and modifications that take place in all aspects and areas of life. So long as new innovations and trends continue to take place in the world, new words will continue to manifest themselves into the English language.

A word actually becomes a word for the first time when it is used by someone and understood by another person. However, linguists who specialize in the study of grammar have difficulty deciding when to make a new word official. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the English language is thought to have more words than any other language in the world, which have been estimated to be between one and two million words.

Some experts claim that by age five, a native child of English will have learned about 5,000 words, which is half of that of a native adult (between 10,000 and 12,000 words). These are words that are actively used in oral communication.

Native adults who spend additional time studying and reading, will learn up to about 10,000 more words which are used passively during silent reading. The importance of learning vocabulary is not only for native speakers of English, but also for second language learners, as well.

Learning vocabulary words is very important to second language learners of English.  Words play an essential role for both active speaking and passive reading communication, and give people the means to clearly communicate their thoughts and ideas to others.  This article will examine (1) what vocabulary is, and what the meaning of a word includes, (2) the reasons why it is important to learn new words, (3) which words a second language learner of English should learn, and (4) how a person can improve their vocabulary. 

First off, it is important to know what is meant by vocabulary, and what is included in the meaning of a word.  Vocabulary is the entire listing of words that exist in a language, and are usually provided for users in a reference book called a dictionary, or a lexicon.  Vocabulary word refers to one word found in a dictionary.  A word is a single unit of a language that is used to build a phrase, a sentence, or a question.  Keep in mind, that a word unit doesn't necessarily mean that it only contains just one word.  A term and an expression are also word units, but they can contain more than one individual word.  Expressions also include idioms and phrasal verbs (or verbal phrases) in English.

For example, look at these glossaries of computer terms and business terms, this extensive list of common expressions used in the English language, and some of the most common idioms in English. Many second language learners of English find it challenging to learn verbal phrases.  Here is an online list of 200 of the most common phrasal verbs in English which includes not only their meanings, but also gives example sentences.

The vocabulary of technical terms used in different fields of study is called terminology.  Here is an example of art terminology.  Now you can see that vocabulary is much more than just a list single words.  It includes single words, phrases, and blocks of words together, all of which convey a particular meaning.

In the second place, it is important for second language learners to learn new vocabulary words for the following reasons.  Richer vocabulary will help you to succeed in all of the language skill areas; including speaking, listening, reading and writing.  You will find it easier to describe events, express feelings, share and defend ideas, give opinions, convince others, request information, give orders, argue a point, find information, and ask questions in order to actively participate in a conversation.  Vocabulary is the key to both oral and written comprehension. Here are lots of different conversation topics and respective questions in which you can practice different kinds of vocabulary based on your own personal and professional needs..

Oral communicaton for students of a second language is usually interrupted by the lack of understanding unrecognizable words during a conversation.  Unfamiliar words are gaps in reading materials which prevent readers from understanding the text.  Learning new vocabulary words will help students of English to grasp ideas and think in a more logical way.  New words give you the power to persuade, convince, and impress others.  For example, imagine that you want to persuade your boss to give you a raise in your salary.  Or, maybe you want to convince your wife to not buy something.  And, what if you want to impress others with a trip that you recently took to a foreign country?  New vocabulary can help you do all of these things, and even more.

Thirdly, it is especially important for second language learners to seriously think about which words they probably should learn.  The best strategy is to decide with whom and where you will need to use this new vocabularyDo you need specific vocabulary for your current job position?  Are you going to be traveling for business or pleasure to an English-speaking country?  Do you need to learn words that can be used during an interview with someone?  What topics do you need to have adequate vocabulary for?  Decide ahead of time so that you can carefully choose the new vocabulary words that you want to learn.  Here is a source list of vocabulary words organized according to different featured topics.  Maybe this will help you get started in order to decide which words "you" want to learn.

Don't simply choose to study a set of random words, simply because they are new to you.  Be selectiveThink before you start studying new vocabulary.  Plan ahead with sufficient time to select the new words that are going to help you with your personal and professional objectives.  You will save a lot of time and effort in the long run.  Furthermore, you will discover how rewarding it is to choose vocabulary that serves a purpose for you.  It will really pay off for you to choose words before learning them.

And last, but not least, a second language learner can improve their vocabulary by practicing the following strategies.  (a) Read a lot.  Choose reading materials that include topics that you are interested in, and that don't include too many unknown words in the text.  In other words, choose your reading level wisely.  A good website that includes many interesting topics with different reading levels is VOA Special EnglishIt is better to practice reading out loud in order to practice your pronunciation, as well.  (b) Learn how to use dictionaries, and make it a habit to use them.  One of the best online dictionaries is The Free Dictionary.  A good way to build on your vocabulary is to look up synonyms of words that you already know, but use a thesaurus instead of a bilingual dictionary.  This will help you expand your vocabulary so that you are not always using the same words.  (c) Learn a minimum of one new word every day.  Remember to choose words that are relevant to your personal and professional interests.  There are many online offerings to help you learn new words.  One is called a Learner's Word of the Day(d) Practice using the new words that you learn and memorize.  If you use a new word in your conversations with others, or just say the word out loud many times during the day, you have a better chance of remembering it.  Activate the words in your mind.  Here is a good webpage that you can use in order to practice pronouncing new words correctly.  (e) Adapt yourself to a new habit of learning new vocabulary.  Join and sign up for different online services that will instantly send you new vocabulary and information about words to your e-mail inbox.  Here is an example of sign up form from the Oxford English Dictionary in order to receive one new word a day in your inbox.

To sum things up, second language learners of English should consider learning new vocabulary words in their area of interest for both pleasure and business purposes.  Remember that vocabulary words are not just single words, but also include multiple groupings of words found in terms, phrases, expressions, idioms, and phrasal verbs.  It is important for non-native learners of English to use the Internet, dictionaries, thesauruses, word lists, games, books, magazines, manuals, and other reading materials in order to practice learning new words.  Learning new vocabulary should be a dedicated and enduring process, but don't forget to enjoy it.  Learning vocabulary can be fun, especially since it helps you to discover new things in life that you didn't know before.  Your mind will expand with new vocabulary words.  Enjoy learning new vocabulary!

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