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Re: [hackers-il] RFI: Recommendation for a good Vocabulary Builde r

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  • Nadav Har'El
    ... My experience is somewhat different: I have found that getting experienced with *written* English and *spoken* English are quite different. Some people
    Message 1 of 4 , Feb 15, 2004
      On Sun, Feb 15, 2004, Eugene Teo wrote about "Re: [hackers-il] RFI: Recommendation for a good Vocabulary Builde r":
      > I am a native speaker, though I speak Chinese most of the time.
      > My suggestion to you is to speak English as often as you can
      > for this will helps you improve your command in English, and
      > without much effort at all. Alternatively, tune in to BBC or
      > other English-speaking radio stations, preferably those from
      > the UK. Index cards are a good idea too but you will end up
      > killing more trees than you should. An electronic index card
      > system will be more ideal, think I saw a vietnam version some-
      > where.

      My experience is somewhat different: I have found that getting experienced
      with *written* English and *spoken* English are quite different. Some people
      speak excellent English, but find it very difficult to write good English,
      and sometimes can't even spell properly. Other people can read and write
      very well, but find it difficult to speak the language in a quick,
      understandable, manner. For example, I know native English speakers whose
      level of English writing is several levels below mine, but who can speak
      English much better than I can.

      So if you are interested in improving your written English skills, including
      your vocabulary (which is much more important for written English than for
      spoken English), you might want to do what generations of teachers always
      recommended for improving your language skills: read.
      Read books in English, articles, web-pages, and so on. You'll be amazed how
      you'll find yourself learning new words without even noticing. This is what
      happens to me: I sometimes find myself writing some rare word, that I don't
      even know how I had learned. Some books are especially full of complicated
      words I don't know, and then I remember this book :) For example, from a
      single book I read last year (about evolution), I learned the words
      "fecundity", "junk" (a kind of ship), and "cul-de-sac". Look those up in
      m-w.com if you don't know what they mean.

      Writing good English is not only about vocabulary of individual words. The
      next level of complexity is the context of these words, and idioms, and these
      are harder to learn from cue-cards and dictionaries. For example in a recent
      posting on this list I wrote something like "Either one of us ponies up the
      time ... or somebody ponies up the money". To "pony up" is an idiom, that
      should be used in specific contexts. You cannot say "I volunteer to ponie the
      time" like you did in your reply - not only is this a spelling error, it
      also misses the vital "up" (check "pony up" in m-w.com).
      When you read (but also listen, see movies, etc.), you pick up those idioms
      and start to intuitively know which words best fit which contexts. This is
      many times more important than impressing your reader with some obscure word
      that nobody uses.

      Nadav Har'El | Sunday, Feb 15 2004, 23 Shevat 5764
      nyh@... |-----------------------------------------
      Phone: +972-53-790466, ICQ 13349191 |May you live as long as you want - and
      http://nadav.harel.org.il |never want as long as you live.
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