Over and over again, I’ve seen the same problem. It happens with students who are preparing for the TOEFL, students who are struggling with writing, and students who are stumbling through conversations. The problem is a limited or inappropriate vocabulary.
A limited vocabulary is an obvious problem and one experienced by many new English speakers. They struggle to find the right word for the situation or they don’t know many of the words that are being used. It creates stilted speech and comprehension problems.
Many people think that poor vocabulary is their problem when they can’t find their footing in English. An inappropriate vocabulary, however, can be as much of a problem. If a person has an inappropriate vocabulary, they might use slang or social language in a professional setting or professional language in a social setting. This can create misconceptions about your intelligence or English ability.
Knowing your problem is the first step to correcting it. So, you might want to take some time to evaluate your English. Do you have either problem? If you do, how do you correct it?
Building a great vocabulary and correcting old errors is not a glamorous process. It involves a lot of repetition and studying. But, if you can manage to push through the drudgery, you will be rewarded with greater fluency and ease in English speaking situation.
Since I’ve been creating the new Vocabulary Bootcamp course, I’ve compiled my favorite methods and study exercises there. What is your favorite way to practice vocabulary?
East Bay ESL is an English language school for adult students in the San Francisco East Bay.