English literature vocabularyBeing a non native speaker of English I always find it difficult to add new words to my English literature assignments, though I have learnt so many new words. But when...

English literature vocabulary

Being a non native speaker of English I always find it difficult to add new words to my English literature assignments, though I have learnt so many new words. But when I write I am always puzzled.Please suggest some idea or thought.

Asked on by shannaqvi

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mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Watch the news; there is many a journalist who uses precise words and ones that are less trite.  In listening to someone like this, you hear the word used in context and learn, not just the denotation, but its connotation and the appropriate occasion for the word's use.

Watch movies, especially ones that are dramas.  Turning on the old movie channel may be helpful as people from the 1940s had a better command of English than some of the modern "stars."

Listen to the lyrics of songs; there may be some words in these that you will not know.  For, the idea is to hear these words used in real life.  Most people who speak well have been around other people who speak well. Granted, they have learned many words from reading, but their "active" vocabulary usually comes from real situations.

lmetcalf's profile pic

lmetcalf | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

I have a variation on the suggestion in #8. Write your essay using the best vocabulary you know and are comfortable using. Then review that essay for words that you have used multiple times and look those up with a thesaurus to see if there may be an alternative word WITH THE SAME CONNOTATION you intend in your original and make a substitution if appropriate. You will have improved your essay by using some variety.

A second suggestion is write your essay in the best way you know, and then re-read it being on the look-out for words that don't seem very specific or that you suspect might have better, more emotionally connotative, more specific meaning, and make a substitution.

(When in Europe, I would try to listen in on people's discussions at museums to improve my foreign language vocabulary.)

e-martin's profile pic

e-martin | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Here's a reading/writing idea to help expand your vocabulary:

Select an article to read from a newspaper or online (print it out). When reading the article highlight 5 to ten terms that you are unfamiliar with. Look up those terms in a dictionary. Then write an original piece of your own using the terms you have looked up.

Hopefully this exercise will give you a clear view of a few new terms each time you do it. Good luck!

litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

One thing I suggest to students is use the word suggestion feature in Microsoft Word.  You can write your composition using words you know, and then highlight a word, right click on it, and choose synonyms.  It will give you a list of words that are synonyms.  Make sure you choose a word with the same meaning for your sentence!

vangoghfan's profile pic

vangoghfan | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I agree with all the advice given above.  Don't add words to your vocabulary just for the sake of adding words.  Add them as you need them, and try to keep them simple and clear (nothing fancy).  Here's an idea that may really help: buy yourself some books that have face-to-face translations of some books with English on one side and your native language on the other.  There are many such books.  Go to Google Shopping and type in "face to face translation Spanish to English" (for example).  Or do the same thing at Amazon.com or at Bookfinder.com.  Good luck!

stolperia's profile pic

stolperia | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Possibly the most important tip would be to encourage you to add words to your vocabulary as you need to use them. Don't start reading the thesaurus and memorizing words and definitions in isolation. Find words that relate to what you are saying and writing - you will be more likely to understand and remember them if you can actually use them.

A thesaurus would be a great tool in this process. As you are writing, stop periodically and look up a word you have just used in your paper - are there other words that you could use instead of that word, words that have a slightly different meaning that might make your writing more accurate or more interesting? If you can include a couple new words in each paper (and, even better, if you can use those new words several times), your vocabulary will grow and you will become confident in the use of those new terms.

readerofbooks's profile pic

readerofbooks | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

As a non-native speaker, it is hard to learn English, but it can be done. Let me give you two suggestions. First, keep reading. This is probably the best thing you can do. The more you read, the more you will learn how to write well. I would even say imitate writers whom you admire. Second, get a book of vocabulary and start memorizing words. They also give you sample sentences that can help.

rrteacher's profile pic

rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

My advice would be not to worry too much about using new words for the sake of using them. When you write, think about what you want to say, and write it. Then, as post #3 indicates, have someone read over it, and ask if there are any parts that are unclear. At that point, you can think about using different words to get better precision of meaning, which is the point of having a good vocabulary.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

If possible, find yourself a native speaker who is willing to look over things you write.  You can write things for practice and then ask the person if you have used your new words properly.  The person could also look at things you write and discuss with you where you might have used different words.  This would be especially good if you could find an English speaker who wants to learn your language and you could teach one another.

wannam's profile pic

wannam | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted on

The best advice I can give you is to practice.  Adding new vocabulary can be a daunting task.  You might find it helpful to have a thesaurus and/or a dictionary handy when you are writing.  Reading English literature, listening to radio programs, and even television can be great places to pick up new vocabulary.  Make a habit of using the new words you learn in your conversations and/or writing.  If you are trying to add new vocabulary to a formal literature assignment, a thesaurus can be a valuable tool.

just-s's profile pic

just-s | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted on

the best way is to read! read not for entertainment or past time, but for earning knowledge

everytime you come accross a new word go to the dictionary read and understand the words then use those words more often e.g in your daily talks or in essays etc

bhawanipur's profile pic

bhawanipur | College Teacher | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted on

I agree with all the valuable suggestions put forward in the above posts. Being  a non native speaker of English, I too experience the same problem. Yet, the better way to aquint with the new words is to read books more and whenever you come across a new word, look at the dictionary. Please look its use as a noun, adjective, adverd and so on. Then use it in some sentences or use them in discussion. Watch news in TV specially BBC or CNN or any channel you have and find if any new word they have used. Even the newspaper can help in this regard.

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