Trying to memorize a list of new words is like trying to stuff a dictionary into your brain through your nose (and likely just as painful). The idea of chunking is to let your brain have extra points of reference when accessing new vocab; that is, it allows you to remember words not only in terms of their dictionary meaning, but also in relation to other words in the same group.
The principle is simple: study words in small groups, or chunks, that share a common element or theme. This way, if you come across a word that is familiar but that you’re not sure about, you may be able to guess its meaning by its relationship to the chunk in which you saw it. You might remember another word in that chunk and recall its meaning. You might also then remember the common element or theme of the chunk and/or the bundle it came in. That information, along with the context of the word you’re trying to understand, will help you guess the meaning of the word.
How to Use Vochunks?
Firstly, we have to understand what a Vochunk is and what a vocab bundle is.
- A vochunk
- – is a list of words that share a focused common element. Some of these words might be synonyms, but mostly they will share a context rather than a meaning.
- A vocab bundle
- – is a set of five Vochunks under a more general “umbrella” element.
For example, our first vocab bundle is time, so all the Vochunks in this bundle will somehow relate to time. The five Vochunks in this bundle are relative time, past time, present/future time, the root chron and prefix pre-, and lastly idioms, phrasal verbs, and collocations of time.
(Every bundle will follow this general structure (3 Vochunks focused on elements of the umbrella theme, 1 Vochunk focused on roots and/or prefixes, and 1 Vochunk focused on idiomatic language).
Again, the idea is to learn not just the words and phrases themselves, but also the context in which they are used.
Each entry in Vochunk will contain the definition of the word, its parts of speech (other forms such as noun, verb, etc., or where these are limited, common usage), synonyms and special expressions, sample sentences, and, where applicable, a cross reference to other uses of this word (that do not belong to the particular chunk or bundle)
Each Vochunk will also have its own exercise to help you practice and learn the words and provide more contextual applications. These exercises will include fill in the blank questions, synonym matches, and multiple choice questions. When you are confident you know the words, you may take a timed multiple choice quiz to test yourself.
At the end of each bundle there will also be a test to gauge your knowledge of all the words and expressions within that bundle.
How does it work?
Let’s take the word span as an example. You can learn its meaning (noun: a period of time, duration; verb: to cover that period of time or to last from time/day/year A to time/day/year B). You can also remember its bundle or chunk (Time/Relative Time) and more easily guess its specific meaning in the context of reading.
Read the following sentence:
Although the study appears to be comprehensive and authoritative, some academics question its viability based on the span of its observations. In fact, some experts believe that five years is hardly sufficient to draw the conclusions presented in the study.
In this sentence, span means the length of time that observations were made. In other words, the study spanned five years, and is therefore doubted by some experts.
If you did not recall the exact meaning of the word, you might remember that it is related to time. In which case the ‘five years’ should be enough of a hint to help you remember the meaning of span.
Example: Bundle 1: Time
VC-1 Relative Time Span Last Duration Juncture Pause Interim Tenure Temporary Meanwhile/meantime Spell/Stint/Shift Punctual Linger Phase
SPAN (n. / v.)
Def: to cover/continue over a period of time; a limited amount of time
|PoS: span (v.), span (n.), spanning (part.), life span (coll.), time span (coll.)||Syn: N – course, length (of time), duration, extent, spell, term, period;
V – cover, encompass, continue (for)
V.: The study to be conducted by the university will involve over 100 participants and span 3 years.
The information presented in the graph spans a full fiscal year and is split into four quarters.
N.: The average person in North America has a life span of about 78 years.
Prt.: Spanning centuries, the institution of Pope continues to thrive today.
Xr: Can also be used in regards to physical distance (The bridge has a span of 600 meters) or an abstract idea of quantity (Many teachers complain that students today have very short attention spans.)
LAST ( v.)
Def: to continue for a period of time; to remain strong for the duration (of); to continue to live, to survive
|PoS:lasting (adj.), outlast (v.), long-lasting (adj.),
at last (coll.)
|Syn: continue, survive, endure, abide, keep on,
persevere, persist, remain
at last – finally
V.: This party is so much fun; I hope it lasts all night because I don’t want to go home yet.
If you don’t water the plants, they will not last the summer.
Adj.: The professor left a lasting impression on his students, many of whom claim never to have had such a
V.: These shoes are so expensive, but they are supposed to outlast the cheaper brand.
Adj.: I bought long-lasting batteries, which should keep our flashlights working well until the end of the camping trip.
Coll: I’ve taken that test so many times, until at last I was able to pass it.
Xr: Not to be confused with the adverb last, which is a sequence adverb meaning the opposite of first. Also, at last, meaning finally, is not the same as lastly, also meaning finally. Lastly, is used to show the end of a sequence, while at last means after a long wait.
The other chunks in this bundle will be:
VC-2 Present/Future Time
VC-3 Past Time
VC-4Time-related Roots (chrono & temp)
VC-5 Time Idioms, collocations, and phrasal verbs
Legend of symbols used:
|N. — Noun||Prt. — Participle||Ant — Antonym|
|V. — Verb||Syn. — Synonym||POS — Part of Speech (form)|
|Adj. — Adjective||Coll. — Collocation||Xr. — Cross-reference|
|Adv. — Adverb||Exp. — Expression||Slg — Slang|
|Prep. — Preposition||Def. — Definition||Sl — sounds like (phonetics)|
|PhV — Phrasal Verb|
Collocation: a pairing or combination of words that often appear together (e.g., commit murder, run out of money, take a shower, catch a bus, make progress)
Cross-reference: some of the words you will see in a particular VoChunk will have other meanings that may appear in a different VoChunk. We will mention this link. We might also mention uncommon or very common uses of a particular word, such as in an idiom, if this seems relevant to the VoChunk.
Antonyms: the opposite of synonym
Slang: definitions based on popular usage rather than dictionary meaning
Part of Speech: we will provide you with the other common forms of the word(s)