You may have noticed by now that I no longer post the Word of the Day. Some of you may be wondering why that is, so I have written this post to explain the reason and to announce a new approach to help you build your vocabulary base.
Let’s start with the why:
Reading words from a dictionary (or Word of the Day post) is a passive activity. You take in the words via your eyes, let them wonder around your brain until they connect to a meaning (if one exists therein), and then you move on to the next. In essence, you are not actually doing anything. You are hoping the words have enough sense to do their jobs. Of course, you need to fill your brain with new words and their meanings initially, but the only way to get them to stick in there is to use them so that the brain muscles can grow around them and flex as necessary. The key, then, is not to let words in and hope they process, but to actively push the words out as expressions.
Let me give you another analogy. Think of the passwords you use on your computer—if yours are anything like mine, they make no sense (Rf4@66hGy& is an example of the type of password I use). They’re just letters and symbols and numbers, and there is no way I can remember them, so I write them down in a notebook and go back to them as required. Now think of the word QUEUE. It might as well be a password, don’t you think? But it isn’t; it’s just a plain old everyday word. Yet, if you don’t use this word regularly, there is not much chance you’ll remember it, especially as it doesn’t look like it sounds and there is nothing in it to give you a clue as to its meaning. Even if you stand in a queue every day, at the bank let’s say, you probably don’t think to yourself, “Hey, I’m in a queue.” In other words, without your notebook or dictionary nearby this word won’t be available to you to use.
So the idea is to become actively involved with new words so the notebook becomes unnecessary.
This is why I’ve decided to go in a new direction, to let you interact with the language.
There’s a new Sheriff in town
Now, I could have simply written the above heading as: A new way to do things. But isn’t being a little creative more fun (especially once you can get beyond clichés)?
So here’s what were’ going to do: every once in a while I’ll post a random picture on my social network pages (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+) that I’ll take with my phone, and I’ll ask you to give me words to describe it: What is happening? What does it look like (in terms of colour shape, size, texture, and so on)? What does it remind you of? How does it make you feel? What story does it let you imagine?
I will start you off with some key words and, along with your peers, we will try to build a paragraph, a story, or an essay to try to use the new words. You will supply the vocabulary and the sentences, and you will teach yourselves and each other new words. Together we will build a large vocab base. Keep in mind that even if these words are not common on the IELTS, TOEFL, or other language tests, they will help you build a wide base and be creative with words. in the long run, this is much more valuable than memorizing big words to use on a test once.
Let’s get started
Here is your first pic:
Icicle Ice storm
The lamppost stood out against the slate-coloured sky.
The icicles formed a decorative fringe around the bulb.
Now, it’s your turn (post your words and sentences on the social page where you saw this pic).