The Dominate Test Prep Podcast

12. The Best Way to Improve your Vocabulary

December 17, 2019
The Dominate Test Prep Podcast
12. The Best Way to Improve your Vocabulary
Chapters
The Dominate Test Prep Podcast
12. The Best Way to Improve your Vocabulary
Dec 17, 2019
Brett Ethridge / Dominate Test Prep

Having a strong English vocabulary is important for doing well on pretty much all standardized tests. It helps with reading comprehension, certainly. But it's also fundamentally important for logically completing sentences like you're asked to do on exams such as the GRE. 

So what's the best way to learn new words? And should you do anything different if English isn't your native language? We break it all down for you in this episode. Specifically, we discuss:

  • The filter through which you should think about improving your vocabulary, namely how to get more right answers on test day;
  • Why context matters (Hint: words don't exist in a vacuum);
  • The drawback to focusing exclusively on root words and prefixes/suffixes (but there is some benefit, which we explain);
  • What mnemonics are, and how they can help you commit words to long-term memory (with examples);
  • Why there's really no substitute for memorizing a list of "hard" words leading up to test day -- and how to do it effectively;
  • When to study your words for maximum retention;
  • Recommended resources;
  • And more!

RESOURCES & LINKS

  1. Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day: https://www.merriam-webster.com/word-of-the-day
  2. Quick word look-up: https://www.dictionary.com/
  3. Common Prefixes, Suffixes, and Root Words: https://msu.edu/~defores1/gre/roots/gre_rts_afx1.htm

A DOSE OF MOTIVATION

"Words: So innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them." -- Nathaniel Hawthorne

Show Notes Transcript

Having a strong English vocabulary is important for doing well on pretty much all standardized tests. It helps with reading comprehension, certainly. But it's also fundamentally important for logically completing sentences like you're asked to do on exams such as the GRE. 

So what's the best way to learn new words? And should you do anything different if English isn't your native language? We break it all down for you in this episode. Specifically, we discuss:

  • The filter through which you should think about improving your vocabulary, namely how to get more right answers on test day;
  • Why context matters (Hint: words don't exist in a vacuum);
  • The drawback to focusing exclusively on root words and prefixes/suffixes (but there is some benefit, which we explain);
  • What mnemonics are, and how they can help you commit words to long-term memory (with examples);
  • Why there's really no substitute for memorizing a list of "hard" words leading up to test day -- and how to do it effectively;
  • When to study your words for maximum retention;
  • Recommended resources;
  • And more!

RESOURCES & LINKS

  1. Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day: https://www.merriam-webster.com/word-of-the-day
  2. Quick word look-up: https://www.dictionary.com/
  3. Common Prefixes, Suffixes, and Root Words: https://msu.edu/~defores1/gre/roots/gre_rts_afx1.htm

A DOSE OF MOTIVATION

"Words: So innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them." -- Nathaniel Hawthorne

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words so innocent and powerless as they are as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them. Nathaniel Hawthorne. Hello and welcome to the Dominate Test Prep podcast. I am Bread Ethridge, your host. And in this episode, we're gonna talk about vocabulary now, just kind of saying that sounds a little bit boring, right? But no, not really. I mean, think about vocabulary. The reason we like to read authors like Shakespeare and others who used such rich language and vocabularies because words have power words can evoke incredible meaning and campaign such incredible pictures and stories, and we really resonate with them. But that's not really what we're gonna be talking about on this show. We're gonna talk about aspects of vocabulary specific to helping you get right answers on your standardized test. So if you also learn some new words, and maybe you're able to write better as a result and you're able to kind of tell or say what you want to say in a little bit more nuanced way, so much the better. But again, my goal for you here is to help you get more right answers on your test, and part of doing that is increasing or improving your vocabulary. Now who is this episode four Really everybody? Because all standardized tests have a reading component, right? Almost certainly, you're going to have a reading comprehension section where the passages may contain rich language, big words that you may or may not know. And if you don't know, they could hinder your ability to understand what the passage is trying to say. If you're studying for the g r e, you know that the verbal section of the G. R E has a section that is very vocabulary, rich and vocabulary intensive in terms of completing sentences with logical words that complete those sentences. And so having a strong vocabulary is important there as well. And then I know a lot of you listening to this may have English as your second language. And so maybe words and vocabulary is holding you back from doing a CZ well, as you would like on your standardized testing. So you need to increase your English vocabulary. And the purpose of this episode is to help you do that. So wherever you are wherever you're coming from. Whether you feel like you already have a strong vocabulary or whether you know it's an area where you really need to improve your English vocabulary, I'm gonna teach you how I'm going to teach you howto learn words. We're gonna talk about some of the best ways to thinking about improving your vocabulary, but also with that ultimate goal of helping you to get more right answers. You know, none of the standardized tests that I know of at least have a straightforward, synonym questions like Here's a word. Choose the answer choice. That is the synonym. The G R e and S A T usedto have anted ems, which was about as close to that as you can think of, right? Here's a word. Tell me the word that means the opposite. Okay, so that would be like almost explicit vocabulary that doesn't really exist anymore. And that is going to be important when we think about the best way to actually study and learn vocabulary. So you're gonna learn so many words. Hopefully you'll come away from this episode with a rich, richer vocabulary. I'll try to make it as enjoyable as possible for you before we dive in, though I have two announcements about the podcast itself and the first is a listener. Shout out! So we actually got our first written review. Now I know a lot of you guys have left five star ratings, which is fantastic, but low horse Ah, her right, So it's it's on L with a bunch of those and h is and esses and ours in it. So whoever you are wrote a review and said, If you are looking for guidance and encouragement as it pertains to test prep, this is the perfect resource. This podcast acts as a sign post to keep you on the right path while preparing for your test. And I love that I love. That is a first review because that's exactly what we're trying to do here at the Dominate Test podcast. So thank you to all of you have been listening and subscribing and sharing the podcast for helping us to get off to such a great start. And lo who saw her, Whoever you are, if you're listening to this episode, send me a message. Send me an email and I am gonna give you a free practice test. So whether you're studying for the G. Maggie Ari to send me an email, let me know, identify yourself and I'll hook you up as I mentioned in a previous episode. So again, thank you for that. For the rest of you guys leave a written review. Maybe I'll give you a shout out. And who knows? Maybe you'll get a free ah freebie as well in the future. So that's kind of announcement. Number one, an announcement Number two is that we are also now officially listed on stitcher. So for those of you with android stitchers, a great way to listen to podcasts on Android. Download the stitcher app and you can now find the Dominate test prep podcast on stitcher, so hopefully that will give us some more reach. Hopefully, that'll make it easier for you guys to subscribe and listen. Each time we launch a new episode and share it with your friends as well. All right. So, back to another sign post to use low who saw hers word to help you as you're preparing for your standardized test. Let's talk a little bit more about learning vocabulary now. Actually, have four fairly specific ways that I'm going to talk about in terms of some of the best ways to learn vocabulary. And I know you might be thinking Wait a second. I thought you said in this episode you are gonna tell us that the best way to learn vocabulary okay, we'll get there and I'm going to give a recommendation. And I think it will be very clear by the end what I think and what I know from experience to be the best way to learn vocabulary. But we're gonna talk about all four of them, but actually want a front load right here, really kind of the most important concept and talk about the most important thing you need to kind of have in the back of your mind is your thinking about learning vocabulary. And that is this. That the purpose, at least for you on your standardized test for improving your vocabulary, is to improve the chance that you are able to get right answers. And the key to that is context. There are almost always clues in their surrounding sentences. If you are doing reading comprehension or even on the G r E if you're doing sentence completion, words don't exist in a vacuum. Vocabulary does not exist in a vacuum on your test on your standardized test, and that context is important and is often the key to understanding what a word might mean if you don't know what it means or choosing an answer choice that would fill in the blank to complete the sentence in the most logical way. And so just flat out memorizing words isn't necessarily going to help you get more right answers. Now it is part of it, certainly, But context is important. Let me give you a couple of examples. Let's say I give you a sentence like this and ask you to choose a word or maybe identify a word from answer choices to complete this sentence. Samantha is very blank. Now. You're probably thinking yourself. I need I need more information. There's tons of possibilities to complete that sentence, right? Samantha is very tall. Samantha's very smart. Samantha is very stupid, right? Samantha is very personable. Lots of words to describe Samantha potentially, right? So what if I give you more context? What if the sentence now reads a two time beauty pageant winner Comma Samantha is very blank. Ah, now we have context. Now we know what type of word we are looking for. A word like pretty or beautiful, right? A two time beauty pageant winner, Samantha is very pretty or elegant or talented. Perhaps those are all words that would now make sense, and I wouldn't necessarily, um, use other words like smart or stupid. She might also be those things, but those words don't necessarily make sense in context with that additional information. So remember that vocabulary does not exist in a vacuum on your standardized test, and those other keywords are crucial to U understanding what certain words in the sentence might mean and how to complete sentences in the case of the G r E. Now one final but important note along these lines with respect to this idea of contacts before we dive into kind of the four ways that I'm gonna talk about in terms of learning vocabulary and that is this sometimes on your standardized test in the Reading Comprehension section. This is especially true in the S A. T and A C T. But occasionally on the G r E or G. Matt or possibly the f l sat, although I can't vouch for that 100%. But you may see questions that ask kind of quote such and such like some sort of word most nearly means what. So it is identifying a word in the passage itself, and it is asking you what it means. And here is a crucial, crucial tip for you. The answer. Choice is almost never the textbook definition, or at least not you know, the most popular or kind of the first definition that you might see listed on dictionary dot com. It's more often a nuanced or secondary or even tertiary ah meaning or definition or something that is maybe even a little bit slang. And to figure out what that word means, you need context. You need to go back to the passage and look for clues in the surrounding words and deduce yourself what it must mean and let me give you a quick example to show you what I'm talking about. This is an example taken from a real former S A T question, and the question reads as follows as used in Line 19 comma quote demands most nearly means So the good news is were referred back to the passage itself. We go back and we can look. But in our mind, we might be thinking, huh? Okay, Well, demands like that's a pretty easy word. I know what demand means. If I demand something, I am making a demand. Which means I'm I'm kind of enquiring or asking fairly forcefully. Right? But the question here is demands in noun form. Okay, so maybe demands means an inquiry. Okay. And that's actually answer choice. See? But that would be. And I catch a wrong answer because that's like the textbook definition. I'm actually on dictionary dot com. And if I type in the word demand in the thesaurus Ah, a synonym for demand or like a demand in noun form is a claim. If you're a demand, is also a claim for something. And sure enough, that's answer. Joyce, be again. An incorrect answer. And that would be something that I might you know, might jump off the page at me if I'm trying to use my own textbook definition. But context is what is important here. So if we go back and actually read the sentence surrounding that word demands in line 19. Here's how it reads. Within a few decades, these firms maybe meeting earthly demands for precious metals such as platinum and gold and the rare earth elements vital for personal electronics such as ye tree um, whatever that is. And land Phantom Lantern. Um, okay, so that's the sentence. Ah, and now in context, it makes more sense, right? It says these firms maybe meeting earthly demands for precious metals. What earthly demands in this case desire simply things that people, earthly people want on? That's answer choice. D Answer. Choice D is desires. So understanding what demands means in contacts. It's being used to mean desires where something that people want. And so again, I hope you understand the point I'm trying to make here. That context is the most important thing to think about as you're learning vocabulary, and it is often the key to getting right answers not only kind of in general were understand what you're reading and reading comprehension, but even when you're trying to complete a sentence on the G R E, context matters, all right now, with all of that said, Let's dive in. Let me kind of break down for good ways off actually learning vocabulary, because at the end of the day, you do want to improve your vocabulary. You want to add to the number of words you actually know as that will definitely increase your chance of getting right answers and identifying words and completing sentences and all the stuff you need to do on your standardized test. And I think they're kind of pros and cons to all four of these. I'll try to tease them out, and you can kind of pick and choose and and take from each of these four ways, and you're thinking about improving your vocabulary. And the first is to learn roots and focus on kind of root words the Greek and Latin root words and or prefixes and some fixes. Now let me preface this one by saying that I actually don't advocate this as kind of the main way. You should think about learning vocabulary, but I hear it all the time for my students, and so I want to address it, and you may be wondering the same thing. So let me acknowledge why it could be a good approach and why a lot of students are kind of attracted to the idea of maybe focusing on learning a bunch of roots Latin derivatives and all of those types of things. And the reason is leverage, right? It's appealing to think that, Hey, if I just learned a handful of roots, maybe a dozen or a couple dozen root words and and prefixes, but somehow that enables me to now no dozens or maybe even hundreds of words. Hey, a little goes a long way like I have that extra leverage that makes sense. I'm gonna talk about the drawback to this method, but let me just kind of pointed out here. The problem is, all routes don't necessarily translate to meaning in all words, and some can be deceiving. So just learning roots is not a substitute for actually learning definitions. So let me kind of get that out of the way. But let me talk about unimportant aspect of what I think students are getting at, and this absolutely has value. And that is this. That oftentimes we can identify in a word that we may not know, something that we kind of do know. A coral it that helps us. I kind of get at what a definition might mean. So if you're on the jury, for example, and you're trying to figure out an answer choice, you know what kind of word maybe should complete the sentence, but you don't recognize a couple of the words and answer choices. Maybe you can recognize parts of the word that give you a sense of what the word might mean. This approach to learning vocabulary is especially good for people who already speak more than one language. So if you're listening to this and English is not your first language, it can actually be beneficial to you, especially if you speak a romance language like Spanish War or Italian or French or Latin. If you've ever studied Latin, because a lot of English words do derive from those words. And so a lot of those root words you may recognize, you know, I'm actually glancing down right now at my list of the top 400 most commonly tested G R E words, I provide them to my students. If you're not one of my students or you don't have a list like that, A lot of times G R E textbooks will have lists in them. I'm sure you can quickly google it and find a list of words that you should be learning and studying from. But I'm glancing down and quickly I see a word sanguinary, right? Sanguinary. That's like a hard word. But I actually did This is truthful. Studied French, and I speak a little bit of French. I've lost it because I haven't used it. But I studied it all through high school and even college. And I recognize the 1st 4 letters sang s A N g, which is a French word meaning blood. And so sure enough, you know, that's something I would recognize in the word if I didn't already know what sanguinary meant. And I might think, Oh, maybe something having to do with blood. And of course, sanguinary does mean characterized by bloodshed or bloody right. So same thing with the word like veracity. I looked down and I see that again. I recognize the French word very tae, which means truthfulness, right, truth. And so veracity has that clearly in it. And the English word means truthfulness as well. Veracity. Right? If you speak Spanish, the word verde is the word for green. So if you see an English word like verdant Ah, like a verdant green pasture or meadow, it means, you know, green or green with vegetation or a nuanced like if you know the English slang word green. Somebody who's green is somebody who is inexperienced, who is new. It's something. And so verdict could mean inexperienced alternatively, but it all goes back to understanding the word green, which I might recognize for Spanish. But as I mentioned, they can be deceiving. Right? For all of the examples I just gave you, I could give you numerous examples where the route either doesn't mean the same thing or isn't actually a routed all, even though I might think it iss I think about the word tyro t y r o a word that you maybe would find on a list of high frequency g r E R s a T words and you might think whom Where have I seen that before? Tyre T y are like tyrant. A tyrant. Okay, maybe it has something to do with being mean or domineering. Like Tyrannosaurus to ran A saurus rex is like a big mean dinosaur, right? But Actually, the word tyro just means beginner. So it has nothing to do with that route at all. Likewise, a word like mordant again. I speak French. I recognize moored more time, I think. Mort L 00 K M O R t is a French word for death. So maybe mordant has to do with something like morbid like death. But no, it actually just means sarcastic or bitingly witty, right? And so So there's really no substitute for just learning the words and memorizing words. And I'm gonna talk about those in the other three ways. But I did want to kind of acknowledge this for those of you who are inclined to think that maybe studying roots and prefixes and so forth is important. Here's a caveat. And I do think prefixes are very helpful for understanding the words charge. So this is a strategy I teach in my g r e course, where sometimes if you don't know what a word means, but by contacts, do you recognize that the blank in the sentence needs to be filled with a negative word, for example? So, you know, based on the flow of the sentence and the meaning of the sentence that the person being described is something negative or a negative type of a word Must complete the sentence. Ah, well, sometimes prefixes can at least help you recognize what types of words are negative. Like the prefix dis D i s. That's a word of prefix that indicates not or apart, right, Like so, like disenfranchise means to take away or not enfranchised you don't have the vote were disinterested means you are not interested, right? The prefix I end or I m also means not same thing with un u. N not like untenable. Something that can't be, you know, held right. So untenable un that that tells you that we're dealing with a negative type of words. So so prefixes are important from that standpoint, but not necessarily for actually knowing what a word means. All right, so let's turn our attention to a few more ways of learning vocabulary. And I think these are increasingly valuable. And the second way is to read, to watch and to listen right. You always hear me say read, read and read some more. Absolutely. One thing you should do between now and test day, whether test day is a week from now. A month from now or a year from now is increased the amount that you're reading. Increase your reading by a minimum of 15 minutes per day and have your dictionary next to you again back to me, learning French. I mean, this is the and by the way, this is the way that we learned our native language for the most part, was through reading a lot of the words you know, our result of what you read, but also what you heard and listen to and just kind of experience, right? Your context, obviously. You know, if your mom went to the refrigerator and got out, I don't know eggs and gave you eggs for breakfast. Like you learn what the word egg is because you saw it and you experienced it. You ate it. And so that's that's part of how we learned words. But we're talking about, like more of those nuanced, huh, Hard vocabulary types of words, not the word for chicken or something like that. And so we get that largely from reading. But what happens is if you encounter a big word, you may know what it means from context, or you may actually need to look it up. So obviously, if you can figure it out from context, that is an invaluable skill because that's what you need to be able to do on test date as well. But worst case, maybe you can't quite figure it out. Looking up again, I go back to learning French, right? So you, you know, now know that I speak a little bit of French. But I remember when I was in college and I would be assigned a book to read, I would pick it up and it would take me hours to read like one chapter because there were potentially dozens of words on each page that I didn't know. And so as much as I tried to learn from context, a lot of times I would have to stop looking up in the dictionary. And then I would maybe see the same word again on the few pages later shoot. I don't remember what that means. I would look it up again, but after doing that two or three times, I now knew the word and then I no longer had to look that word up, and then by the end of the semester, it didn't take me long to read chapters because I just knew more words and didn't have to look as many words up. But but have your apple like a dictionary app on your phone next to you as you're reading at night, when you're going to bed or an actual real dictionary? Adjust, Look some of these words up. Make note cards for the words that you don't know that you encounter in your everyday reading, and we'll come back to this idea of no cards later. But it's important that you do something to take note of the words you don't know. Learn them and study them until you do now. Kind of the one drawback to this approach of reading or watching or listening. By the way, if English isn't your native language, you could also learn a lot of good words by watching United a friend. When I was living down in Colombia, who his English was impeccable and I asked him like How did you get so good at English? He said, Well, I studied abroad, but when I showed up to New York City, where he went to school, he said. I didn't speak hardly any English. English was terrible, so I would stay up late at night and I would watch David Letterman every single night. And like a year later, I knew my English was great, so you could watch. You can listen pick a good podcast, right? Like this one. But any other podcast and listen. And that's how you kind of learn words as well. But for most of its is gonna come from reading. But one of the drawbacks is how many big words are you going to encounter in an article or a book? Like a lot of times these days, people don't use big words, especially when they speak. But if you're going to increase the amount that you're reading, which I advise, make sure you are picking sources that where the author is using big words. One author I remember reading a while back that I remember having a lot of big words, and it was a book called Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. But really any of the iconic American authors Mark Twain. You heard my quote from Nathaniel Hawthorne to start this podcast these authors use rich vocabulary to express nuanced points and evoking motion. And and so you're going to encounter encounter a lot of big words from those types of authors. But again, even if you read an entire book, if you're lucky, maybe there will be, I don't know, 30 40 of those big types of words that maybe you don't totally know and have to look up. But to prepare yourself for your standardized test, you might have to learn hundreds of words. And so you know, one of the drawbacks to just reading is that you may not encounter as many words as you need to fully prepare for your standardized test. Which brings me to kind of the final couple of points at the end of the day. You know, I already reference my list of 400 words. Even that isn't enough. I always tell my students you need to be adding to this list every time you encounter a word in your practice test or your study sessions or anything else you're reading in your day to day life. You know that you don't know, create a new note card for added to this list you need to grow this list of 500 words. 600 words. Ah 1000 words even then, by the way, there may be words you see on test day that even aren't on those lists, even your expanded list. That's why it's so important for you to be ableto learn from context. But I'm kind of going down a little bit of a rabbit hole here, but hopefully you find that helpful, right? I just want you to adopt the mindset around vocabulary that you need. And so anyway, as important as reading is as invaluable as it is to help you improve your vocabulary. Because it's kind of a natural, innate way that we learn vocabulary. You also need to just commit words to memory. Which brings me to kind of my final two points, my final two ways of learning vocabulary, which is to memorize them, and one good way to do that. So point number three is with no Monix. A pneumonic is just a memory device. It works by creating a link in your brain to something else, so that when you recall one thing, it helps you recall another thing, right? The strongest links are through our senses or emotions, rhymes and patterns, and our brain naturally thinks in stories. And so one of the great advantages of no Monix And by the way, I used to Monix all the time. I think there are a great way for you to learn vocabulary and memorize words is to create these sentences thes stories around the words because they helped them stick long term and short term, by the way. And really, if you're just memorizing a bunch of words for test day, you kind of only care that they're in there as long as they need to be in there for you to remember on test day. But but I'm all about you having a better vocabulary, long term as well. And no, Monix can help you do that. So let me give you a few examples of what I'm talking about. You know, I still remember a sentence I made up years ago, and I don't know if somebody taught me the idea of demonic sword just kind of came naturally to me. I remember I was in sixth grade, though, and our teacher gave us a list of words, right. We had vocabulary tests back then, where again? Hate? She was like You might learn some stuff from context. You might learn some stuff from rips from reading, but here's a list of 50 words. I'm testing you on him next week. Like Go learn these words, right? And so memorizing vocabulary words is a part of learning any language. I'm sure you guys have had to do that as well. And I remember one of the words on the list was a word called truculent. T R u C u l e N t. But I remember going all the way back to sixth grade making up a sentence for that, and I just kind of thought to pay cellphone truculent. Okay, if somebody cuts off a truck driver, it will make him mad, and he'll want to fight that person. So truck tr, you see like equals truck driver in my mind, which means he's gonna want to fight somebody s so truculent must mean something hostile or fierce or feisty. And that's exactly what truculent means, right? And so I know it's kind of silly, a silly kind of sentence, but I remember the word and now I bet you'll remember the word. And in fact, if you if you see the word truculent on test day, you'll probably get a big smile on your face and say Man, thank goodness I I listen to the Dominate test prep podcast cause now I know what it means as well. Ah, few more examples of demonic ce for you A word like a shoe e s c h e w Also on my list of common word that you should know on it means to avoid and think at you like a shoe. Ah Chu What? Chu is what you say when you sneeze, right? The sound you make when you sneeze. And so you should shoot people who are saying that you write a shoe, avoid people who are sneezing unless you want to catch their cold. Another one, the word prodigal. Now let me say something about this. So prodigal means wasteful or extravagant. The idea of a demonic in general is making those mental connections kind of re calling something else or some sort of context. Somewhere you've heard that word or how you would associate that word. Some of you may recognize the word prodigal if you ever read the Bible or have heard any Bible stories? The story of the prodigal son, the wasteful, extravagant son who goes off, spends all of his inheritance, ends up sleeping with pigs and comes kind of crawling back to his dad. Ah, and ends up being forgiven. And it's so. It's a wonderful story of picture of kind of God's forgiveness. But the point is, you might recognize the word prodigal from that, But if you don't know, you do. But again, you could think of something like a pneumonic and create your own right. I'm stealing this from somebody else. I didn't make this one up, but I thought it was kind of clever. Product goal. Prada gal like with a capital P. Prada. The famous luxury. What did they make bags or clothes or jewelry or something? Product. Anyway. Prada Gal. So a girl who may be waste her money because she's always buying products products like expensive, extravagant types of products, I don't know so anyway helps you think of product goal product gal. Wasteful or extravagant. So this is the idea behind a Monix. You can have fun with it. That's the thing that I think is great about No. Monix is if you're just gonna memorize words. Hey, might as well make a little bit fun. It does help them stick long term. I think the drawback to know Monix is just that it may not give you quite the context. You need to really know what the word means. So thinking back to my example about truculent Okay, How high? I kind of remember that. It's like a truck driver who might want to fight somebody. So I know it means a little bit feisty. You're fierce or something like that. But would I really be able to identify that it would be the word to complete a sentence? Do I kind of understand the nuance of the word and so forth? In a lot of cases, the answer is yes. I think the Monix are great, but I also want to talk about kind of 1/4 and final point and really kind of we're getting to the best way to learn vocabulary. And that is to memorize the words as we've talked about whether you do it with no Monix or with context by also making sentences. So first, let me say this. Yes, I am actually talking about memorizing words, creating flashcards, making note cards to memorize as many words as possible. This is one of the great advantages of this way of learning. Vocabulary is that you can commit a lot of words to memory in a fairly short amount of time, and you can do it in a way that gives you the context that we've been talking about to ensure that you actually understand what the word means and can therefore get a right answer on test day. Now, let me actually address a question I get from my students a lot before I give you some tips around memorizing words with context and that is this a lot of time students will say, Well, where can I just go find a list where all the definitions already given to me and maybe some sample sentences and so forth and and my answer to that is, those types of things exist absolutely right. I already mentioned APS on a lot of my students. Use quiz lit technology is great, but the way we learn as humans, we learn best buy doing and in this case, by writing. And I think there is great value in actually creating your own flashcards or note cards. Or, if you like, APS or you like quiz lit, create your own word lists because the very act of doing it helps you retain the information helps you remember if you look up a word and actually write the definition and write a sample sentence and maybe come up with a pneumonic on the spot. Now, when you go to actually study that flash card, you probably already remember it. Or at least it won't take you as long to remember it. Long term when you've already done that. Advanced work. If you already have a pre done list of words that you're studying for, it will take you longer and you might not know and understand them as well as if you create that on your own. So take that. For what it's worth, I'm sure some of you don't like hearing that, because it means extra work. It means extra time, but it will save you time in the long run because you'll know the words better and faster now, as you're making your no cards or just as you're studying words. Or even if you're using a pre done list of some sort, Here's some things to pay attention to write. So I already talked about no Monix or a great thing to pay attention to. I would also encourage you to take note of a words charge. Meaning, Is it a positive word or a negative word? Doesn't have a positive connotation, something good and favorable or I already talked about some of the prefixes, like dis or unknown. Is it a word that would have a negative connotation and not even necessarily just with prefixes, but a word that just kind of has a negative connotation? I think of a word like frugal. So frugal means somebody who doesn't spend a lot of money who maybe saves or hordes all his money. But notice that word that I even used in the definition. It kinda has a negative connotation. If you are frugal. Yes, you're a saver. You don't spend money but kind of like it just has a negative connotation, as opposed to just a word like Thrifty, which is a little bit more neutral word meaning essentially the same thing. Somebody who is good with money and doesn't spend a lot of money but doesn't quite have the negative connotation that Frugal has. For example, so on your note cards again, I like to put the word on the front. I like a definition on the back. Pay attention, any sort of secondary definitions that a lot of times harder questions will kind of test those secondary definitions auras I talked about earlier. Maybe if you're trying to figure out what a word means in context, a lot of times it is that secondary definition that they're getting, at my words, charges important, any sort of demonic and a sentence to help you understand what a word means. I already talked about this, the importance of context, but just kind of a funny story for you. You know, I've been helping my son, who was in fourth grade, learned some vocabulary, and they're starting to learn some some pretty big words and words that, you know, we would all kind of know and recognise. But we forget that we didn't necessarily always know what that word meant, right? So I was helping my son learn some some vocabulary, and we came to the word ancient and I asked him what it meant. I said, Okay, what is ancient mean? And he gave me the textbook definition. Right old are very old. Okay, Good. Yeah. Now use it in a sentence. And this is so often what happens to us as well, Right? Maybe you're studying from a list or you make your no cards, and you write the definition, but do you really know what it means? And so I said, Okay, give me ancient in a definition or in a sentence. Rather, And he said on he kind of looked around the kitchen and he looked over at the fruit and he said, The banana on the counter is very ancient, and I just gotta laughed and chuckled myself. Um, okay, I said, Well, maybe you don't really know what it means. I mean, you know, the textbook definition ancient does mean very old, but you would never use it to describe a banana that is old. Maybe it's turning brown, but it's not ancient. Ancient obviously refers to something from antiquity from a really, really long time ago or, like, really, really old with respect, history, an ancient relic, or something like that, And so I had to kind of explain that to him, to give him a better understanding off what the word means, that he was actually trying to just memorize the definition off. So whether you actually write a sentence on your no card or you just kind of commit a sentence to memory, you know you want to do that, I'll give you another example. So let's look at another word like Foment, Right? So that's a word that might appear on any sort of list you are studying from foment. In the definition that you might write on the back, you're no card would be toe promote the growth or development off. Okay, that that's nice. So let's say I even went to my fourth grader son and said, Hey, here's what the word foment means. He goes whom? I've never heard the word foment. Okay, but here's what it means to promote the growth off to help grow or develop bores. Okay, so that's what literally dictionary dot com would say about what foment means. And so I said, Okay, give me a sentence about that. He would think about it, and he might say something like Um, Okay, well, I need to eat healthy food if I want to foment. OK, obviously that's not correct. That's not really what the word phone that means that's not how you would use it in a sentence. That's not what a sentence would look like if there were a blank you had to complete using the word foment on sentence completions on the G R E, for example. And yet his sentence makes complete sentence, since if that's really all you give him is that textbook definition. But what we really need to know is really kind of understanding of foment and what types of sentences is it used in. So now we go to Miriam Webster dot com, which, by the way, I think is a great sight toe. Learn vocabulary from or get your definitions from because it gives you the sample sentences. And here's a sentence for the word foments taken straight from that website. Quote John Adams. So for those of you maybe, who aren't familiar with us politics, he was a U. S. President John Adams. His wife, Abigail, told him that if women were not remembered by the new American government, they would quote, foment a rebellion and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation. So foment a rebellion, foment a revolution. That's what you use foment to be to help grow or develop. Yes, to help grow a rebellion like something along those lines, Foment is almost used in the context of instigating violence, fomenting violence. Ah, good to know. So I would need to explain that to my son if I really wanted him to know what the word phone that means. And that's the type of stuff you need to take note of this well, as you are creating your no cards and memorizing your words to increase your vocabulary for test day. All right, so there are four major ways that are very helpful for learning vocabulary. Too quickly. Summarize number one. You can definitely learn some prefixes suffixes, root words. And as I mentioned, I wouldn't spend a ton of time memorizing a 1,000,000 root words. But I think the key thing there is to remember that you can draw on your existing vocabulary. Other languages you might speak and look for clues within the word itself. As to what they might mean increased the amount that you're reading between now and test day. That's the most natural way that we learn vocabulary. Do with the dictionary next to you to increase your vocabulary by encountering new words in your day to day reading. Number three used no Monix as a way to commit words to long term memory because you create those associations. And finally, as we just discussed, you need to just be memorizing as many words as you can. Hundreds and maybe even thousands of words, ideally between now and test day. And you can do that by flat out memorization and doing some of the things that we have just talked about with. No Monix charge sentences so that you completely understand the context of those words. I want to share just a few final thoughts with you that I think you'll find helpful as we wrap up this conversation around improving your vocabulary. Learning new words and kind of point number one is as you're memorizing words, do them in blocks of words, right? Don't try to tackle too many words at once. Don't try to tackle 30 words or 40 words or 50 words. Instead, give yourself a stack of maybe 10 of your vocabulary. Words cycle through those a dozen times. Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. Now OK, I got those 10 down. Now pick up another stack of 10 note cards. Do those, but then shuffle them a little bit kind of cycle through them, learning smaller chunks. Shuffle them around, rotate them, and eventually you know you'll build up your vocabulary. And, by the way, go back and learn some of the words or kind of revisit some of the words that you learned early on. Sometimes when I assigned words to my students, they'll learn Batch number one of their words. They'll have it down. But then a month later, or two months later, as they have now learned words, you know, 350 through 400 they've forgotten some of the words and words 13 50. So that's why I say Rotate them kind of shuffle the cards and make sure that you are keeping some of the earlier words you learned present. As you're learning some of the later words Point number two is don't necessarily gloss over words that you think you know so Sometimes you get a list of words and you kind of scam through on yourself. Okay, I know that when I know that when I know that one. Okay, I don't really know that one, so I'll make a note card for that one. For example, you might see a word like intrepid. Okay, I know the word. Intrepid. Yeah, Yeah, like, But if I press you on it, what is it actually mean? Could you write your own definition of on the back of a no card? Uh, you know, I'm not sure I could actually define it. I mean, it's like, you know, somebody who's intrepid, but could you actually define it? Or could you give me a sentence with the word in it? And, of course, intrepid means characterized by resolute fearlessness. Okay, so maybe I couldn't have come up with those exact words for a no card, but I would I would still want to make a no card in that case. And I could come up with a sentence. Like Lewis and Clark were intrepid explorers and the perfect people for Thomas Jefferson to send out to chart the unknown lands west of the Mississippi So I have identified Lewis and Clark as intrepid will hopefully remember that on test day and definitely understand what the word intrepid means in context. 1/3 point is when you are learning your words and studying the words, do it right before you go to bed. A lot of studies showed that what we think about and focus on right before we go to bad kind of sticks in our mind, because our brain can automatically sorts and filters and synthesizes information while you sleep. So the list of words that you're learning and memorizing right before you go to bed. Hey, it might stick in your brain a little bit better than if you're studying other times during the day. So I think that's a little helpful tip for you. And finally, go ahead and subscribe to a word of the day. You know, there are lots of places you can get that, But if you go to some of the websites I've already referenced on this podcast, Miriam Webster dot com So m e r R I a M hyphen. Webster, W E B E s T e r dot com Again, I like that site just because I think they do a good job of giving you those sample sentences and things like that. It's a little bit user friendly in my mind. The dictionary dot com but dictionary dot com does the same thing on they both have word of the day options he met. You just leave your email when they'll start to give you a word of the day straight to your inbox. And so, you know, are there 405 100 1000 days between now and test a No. Right. So you're not gonna necessarily get where you want to give just with the word of the day. And by the way, some of the words aren't necessarily the types of words you'll see on the G r. E S A T, anyway. But, hey, it's always good to improve your vocabulary, and maybe a few of them will be relevant. And just for fun to close out. Ah, this episode of the Dominate Test Prep podcast, I'll leave you with today's word of the day from Miriam Webster dot com, which is sodden S o d d e n. And what does it mean? Do you know what it means, Okay. Could you put it in a sentence? All right. Well, let me give you some of the details about it. Straight from Merriam Webster dot com. The definition is a dull or expression. Lists are meaning dull or expressionless, especially from continued indulgence in alcoholic beverages. Interesting. So maybe if you're a little, ah, few sheets toe. What is it? What is the expression? Three sheets to the wind you might have a sudden appearance from having overindulged in alcohol could also just mean torpid or slug. It's the two go hand in hand. If you overindulge in food or alcoholic beverages, you will be sluggish. I could also be heavy, as if with moisture or water. That's often how we see the word sod in something that's kind of moist or filled and heavy with water. Ah, sample sentence quote. With these apt closing words, Mr Slime fell forward with his head upon the table and so declined into a sodden sleep. So there you go. Today's word of the day. Now you know, sodden and a handful of other words that we have discussed throughout today's podcast. I hope you have found this helpful guys I'm gonna kind of wrap up here kind of a quick action item for you because I know I always do. In action. Item is go get your hand off hands on a list of words. So if you're one of my students, you already have a list. Go Google it, go get a G r e textbook. Some source off high frequency words that you're most likely to encounter and start learning them using the tips and strategies that I have given you here in this episode and then increase the amount that you're reading. Pick something dense, pick something that would have a lot of big words in it and start reading it between now and test A. It will serve you well also, and, as always, share this episode. Subscribe. Give us a five star rating and be the second or third or fifth or 10th person to write us. An actual written review would very much appreciate that hopefully you found it helpful. And if you do, let us know about itself. Have a great week. Learned that vocabulary studies smarter, not harder so that you can go on dominate your test. I am Bread Ethridge signing off of this episode of the Dominate Test Prep podcast. Take care, everyone
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