Tuesday, May 15, 2007

choosing your most important words

There's an interesting exercise in the book Keep Talking by Friederike Klippel (Cambridge) called 'word wizard'. Each student is to choose the four words they consider to be the most important if no other words could be used. Which four words would you choose? The aim of the exercise is to try have a conversation with other students, thereby learning their four words a building a vocabulary of up to sixty-four words, assuming that there are sixteen students and no-one chooses the same words.

In reality, people have very similar ideas about which words they would choose. Verbs are very popular. So time and again we get choices like be, have, go, want. If had to choose four verbs, maybe eat, drink, sleep, do would be the best for basic survival.

Are these really the most useful words? Which ones would you choose?

In my next post, I'll tell you why I don't think choosing verbs as your most important words is a good idea.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

learning words that are relevant to you

If you really want to make the most of your English lessons, it's your responsiblity to learn as many words as you can in your own time. If your average lesson is made up of different people continually asking, "how do say ..... in English?" then you are losing valuable time that could be spent making conversation - real communication.

Don't treat your teacher as a walking dictionary. As I've said before, you should be learning word groups that are important to you so that you have something relevant to say in class.

You can do this by making mind-maps
or by using flash cards to memorise key words and expressions.

Don't expect your teacher to know what words are important to you. If you are serious about your language learning, take the responsibility of building your own vocabulary and then your teacher will have time to work on your pronunciation and sentence structure, as well as the all-important fluency.