Improving vocabulary in essays

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  3. Improving Vocabulary in an essay by Janet Salgado on Prezi

Crutch words are vocabulary words students learned in earlier classes that students tend to use often. In many cases, this vocabulary is acceptable for conversation, but these students want to improve their essay writing skills. You must tell the class why these words make their writing weak. Explaining the difference between abstract and concrete language will aid the process, as will showing the difference between vague and specific terms. In higher-level classes, you can tell students at the beginning of the course that they should find replacements for such crutch words.

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In intermediate levels, you can progressively guide students away from the simple vocabulary. To help students expand their vocabularies, here are some resources of topic-specific vocabulary lists — to be used when:. On Spelling Classroom , you can find tons of pre-made word lists you can use to teach vocabulary, and you can also create your own custom-made word lists. The site also gives you a variety of ways to teach vocabulary, including games and activities for all levels. Check out our review of Spelling Classroom to learn more.

The first step to eliminating crutch words and other simple vocabulary words in an ESL class is to make notes in student essays. When correcting essays, I would pick out the words I wanted students to avoid — words that my department had identified as weak for that specific level. At the beginning of the semester, I would circle the first instance of such words and write a suggestion for a stronger replacement.

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The best method to teach students to eliminate and replace simple vocabulary is through vocabulary-building exercises that reinforce the purpose of the lesson. I usually used this exercise after the second or third essay with much of the same vocabulary as the first. After some brief warm-up exercises, this vocabulary builder can help move the lesson into a larger discussion on improving points in essays. Example sentence: John wants to get a good job. Example correction: John wants to obtain a high-paying job with benefits. Another method of presenting this, which may be more useful when doing this lesson a second time, would be to write both sentences on the board and ask the class which is better.

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Of course, you would also have to ask the students to explain why one is better than the other. This may lead to a discussion on improving vocabulary, at which point you can guide the class into the following lesson, or delay the rest of the lesson in favor of steps students can take to improve their vocabulary.

On the board, write the words you want to focus on. If you want to use this as a mini-lesson or short exercise, focus on one word; but you can use up to four for an effective lesson. If you teach a class in which students are reluctant to take notes, print out a worksheet with the key words and a lot of blank space for students to write the synonyms. You may want to include a synonym or two to get them started. This type of worksheet could also work as a homework assignment before or after you present the lesson. Intermediate ESL students should begin learning to use a thesaurus to improve their word choices.

Altering the word choice in such essays can be saved for the final proofreading before the time has expired. You should present a brief lesson on how to use a thesaurus for essay writing at the beginning of the semester. To make this lesson more engaging, you may want to check out Visual Thesaurus. It allows you and your students to play with word maps, so you can see the connections between similar words. Many people are surprised when they are told they have small vocabularies.

This shows that reading alone may not be enough to make you learn new words. When we read a novel, for instance, there is usually a strong urge to get on with the story and skip over unfamiliar or perhaps vaguely known words. But while it is obvious when a word is totally unknown to you, you have to be especially aware of words that seem familiar to you but whose precise meanings you may not really know. Instead of avoiding these words, you will need to take a closer look at them.

First, try to guess at a word's meaning from its context—that is, the sense of the passage in which it appears; second, if you have a dictionary on hand, look up the word's meaning immediately. This may slow down your reading somewhat, but your improved understanding of each new word will eventually speed your learning of other words, making reading easier.

Make a daily practice of noting words of interest to you for further study whenever you are reading, listening to the radio, talking to friends, or watching television. When you have become more aware of words, reading is the next important step to increasing your knowledge of words, because that is how you will find most of the words you should be learning.

It is also the best way to check on words you have already learned. When you come across a word you have recently studied, and you understand it, that proves you have learned its meaning. What should you read? Whatever interests you—whatever makes you want to read. If you like sports, read the sports page of the newspapers; read magazines like Sports Illustrated ; read books about your favorite athletes. If you are interested in interior decorating, read a magazine like House Beautiful —read it, don't just look at the photographs.

5 Words to Improve your Essays - Writing - Eng

Often people with very low vocabularies don't enjoy reading at all. It's more of a chore for them than a pleasure because they don't understand many of the words. If this is the way you feel about reading, try reading easier things. Newspapers are usually easier than magazines; a magazine like Reader's Digest is easier to read than The Atlantic Monthly. There is no point in trying to read something you simply are not able to understand or are not interested in.

The important idea is to find things to read you can enjoy, and to read as often and as much as possible with the idea of learning new words always in mind. Most people know how to use a dictionary to look up a word's meaning. Here are some pointers on how to do this as a part of a vocabulary-building program:. Once you have begun looking up words and you know which ones to study, vocabulary building is simply a matter of reviewing the words regularly until you fix them in your memory. This is best done by setting aside a specific amount of time each day for vocabulary study.

During that time you can look up new words you have noted during the day and review old words you are in the process of learning. Set a goal for the number of words you would like to learn and by what date, and arrange your schedule accordingly. Fifteen minutes a day will bring better results than half an hour once a week or so.

However, if half an hour a week is all the time you have to spare, start with that. You may find more time later on, and you will be moving in the right direction. In order to review words effectively, all the information on a word should be kept in one place—in a notebook, for example, or on an index card.

Index cards are convenient because the words can be placed in alphabetical order, which makes them easy to find when reviewing; and the cards can be carried around with you, so you can study them anywhere. You should try to be systematic about studying, so that you are sure to review each word at least once every couple of weeks.

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The steps we have just discussed do not involve the use of vocabulary-building aids such as books, tapes, or CDs; all that is required is a dictionary. But what about such materials? Are they worth using? We say yes. The first advantage of vocabulary-building books is that they present you with words generally considered important to know, thus saving you time.

Improving Vocabulary in an essay by Janet Salgado on Prezi

Another advantage of many of these books is that they will use the words in several sentences, so that you can see the words in different contexts. A third advantage is that they usually have exercises that test what you have learned, which gives you a clear sense of progress. The major disadvantage of many of these books is that the words in them may sometimes be too difficult for the person who does not have a large vocabulary.