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Building your vocabulary

One of the most important things you need to be able to write well, speak well, or even read well is a good vocabulary. When you’re writing or speaking, you need to use words that mean exactly what you want. If you don’t have a good vocabulary, you’ll find yourself struggling to think of a word to use to get your message across. When you’re reading text, you want to know the meanings of all the words that you’re reading. Not understanding a key word here or there can mean you don’t understand the message the writer was trying to get across.

There are two main ways you can learn new words and what they mean. In everyday conversation you may hear words that you don’t understand. Don’t be afraid to ask the person who said the word what it means. When they tell you the word and what it means, make sure that you try especially hard to remember. It can help to make a mental note and then, later on, look up in a dictionary how to spell the word and also the word’s meaning - to check they got it right.

The second way you can learn new words is when you’re reading. It doesn’t matter what you’re reading - could be a novel, the TV guide, a comic book, or a bus timetable. If you see a word you don’t understand, look it up in a dictionary. If you don’t have a dictionary handy, write the word down and try and remember to look it up later. It can be handy to carry around a few small pieces of paper and a small pencil / pen with you at all times.