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Part of Western Governors University

March 22, 2011

Student Success

Seven techniques to improve your vocabulary.

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Earning an online degree means retaining valuable information on a daily basis. You know you have the skill, so wouldn't it be wonderful if your vocabulary could illustrate your academic knowledge? While working through your online university studies, exercise the following tips to improve your vocabulary.

  1. The thesaurus is your friend. A thesaurus is a great way to learn new words based on existing definitions. While working on an essay, look for overused words and utilize your thesaurus for an alternative. This process will help you develop a natural ability to search your brain for the multitude of possibilities.

  2. Create a "favorites" list. We all have our favorite words, the ones that seem to roll off the tongue and sound appealing. While expanding your vocabulary, keep a list of the words that you enjoy the most. It will serve as a helpful resource when working toward your online degree.

  3. Use the "three times" rule. The old rule, "use a word three times and it's yours" is absolutely correct. After learning a new word, use it in context three times over the course of one week. For example, if you recently learned the meaning of "esoteric," bring it up in conversation: "The FBI's language is esoteric to ensure national security." -Find two more ways to use the word and soon it will become a part of your go-to vocabulary list.

  4. Play the word game. Attending an online university can be a fun experience, and the same is true for expanding your vocabulary. Find engaging ways to learn new words, like the crossword puzzle or word jumble in your local newspaper. You are sure to learn a variety of new words to add to your list.

  5. Read and learn. If you want to expand your vocabulary, reading is a great way to learn! Literature, news articles, online reports, etc. are all sources of new information. By immersing yourself in an author's writing, you will easily find words to adopt as your own.

  6. Remove filler words. Everyone has a speech rhythm that often includes filler words such as "like" or "uh." Pay attention to your speaking habits and try to remove these words. As your vocabulary grows, you will learn to replace these fillers with meaningful language that enhances your communication skills.

  7. Find diversity. Look for reading outside your normal repertoire. Broadening the scope of what you read will help you find a variety of terms you have never encountered.
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