ESL Study Guide

Friday, May 30, 2008

Vocabulary showing English fluency

How does vocabulary show you have a higher English fluency level? This can be an important characteristic if your responses on exams such as the TOEFL iBT, but you should keep certain things in mind.

1.) Should I memorize a lot of exotic or complicated words?

Absolutely not! Exams such as the TOEFL iBT are measuring the quality of your response. If you memorize a lot of exotic vocabulary and fail to use them correctly, you will be hurting your score rather than helping it. Focus on skills that will help make your response clear and easy to follow. I am not advocating that you do not spend any time on studying vocabulary, but the idea is to have a balance of all skills. You should also keep your audience in mind. If they do not understand your vocabulary, you will not be understood.

2.) I am worried about topics I do not understand. What about words from them?

This is part of your preparation. Before taking a TOEFL iBT exam, you should make sure that you are adequately prepared. Rather than reading topics from encyclopedias to try and learn as many academic topics as possible, concentrate on areas such as what you would hear in the news. Exams such as the TOEFL iBT do not require you to have special knowledge in specific subjects such as astronomy or chemistry, but the terminology you will hear in sources such as CBC, CNN, or other English news programs will give you a general background in almost all of the topics you will face. You should also concentrate on your vocabulary in context skills. If you can identify what the word is acting as in the sentence, you will be more likely to correctly guess its meaning even if you have not seen the word before.

3.) Can you give me a list of recommended words?

ESL Study Guide maintains many word lists for it members and even places some in the free section of the website. Feel free to browse the site and see what it available.

Finally, avoid sounding too simplistic. A broad vocabulary base will help you avoid sounding like a child or having a response that is too simple (ie, I am a student. I am from Korea.) and ensure that you are easily understood.

Good luck with your studies,
ESL Study Guide

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