Academic writers are expected (maybe, unfairly) to have a larger vocabulary than those outside their field of expertise. Publishers often have restrictions on the number of pages or words allowed in a submitted manuscript; therefore, when you draft your research paper for submission to a respected journal, you must present your findings as clearly and concisely as possible. A good command of vocabulary can help you to do so.
Since most journals publish in English for an international audience, expanding your English vocabulary is particularly important to write an effective manuscript.
There are several benefits of an expanded repertoire of words. An improved vocabulary helps you:
- Say what you mean: Overuse of some adjectives can diminish the importance of your message. A broader range of choices helps you to be more explicit so that the reader better understands what you are trying to say.
- Understand others: The more words you learn, the more you can connect with others. In the science disciplines, there are technical terms with which many are not familiar. Learning as many as possible will not only help you be more connected with your colleagues, but also with your own doctors, lawyers, and other professionals.
- Understand what you read: Obviously, the more words you know, the less will be unfamiliar to you.
- Become more informed: This practice can help you to not only understand new words but also enable you to respond effectively.
- Think more clearly and logically: More tools you have in your “box of words,” will help you to communicate your ideas in a better way.
- To communicate effectively: Repeating the same adjectives or descriptive words tend to bore your audience and thus decrease their attention.
- To persuade: To persuade people, you must be able to communicate to all levels of your audience so that everyone is in tune with what you are presenting.
- To make a good impression: Confident communication and public speaking can make lasting impressions.
Steps to Expanding Your Vocabulary
So, what do you need to do to increase your vocabulary? It is not difficult and can even be fun. The following steps can help you to enhance your vocabulary
1. Read as much as you can: Reading novels, magazines, and other print material will introduce you to new words.
2. Use helpful tools: Tools such as the dictionary and thesaurus can be very helpful when encountering an unfamiliar word. They define the word and provide its origin or “root”. This information is a great help in not only remembering that particular word but also in understanding the meanings of other words with the same root.
3. Maintain a journal of new words: A list of new words reinforces those words in your memory and encourages you to expand the list.
4. Learn a new word every day: There are tricks to learning a new word each day. Notice new words when you read or communicate.
5. Word’s roots: Most English words originate from either Latin or Greek. As mentioned above, learning roots of words can help in not only remembering them but also defining new ones.
6. Fun games: When relaxing, try doing crossword puzzles or other word games in print, and play word games with others from time to time.
7. Talk, talk, talk: Discussing things with other people can provide you with new words and phrases, especially when different dialects and native languages are used. Write down any words from a conversation that is unfamiliar to you and look them up later.
8. Practice, practice, practice: You must continue to use new words that you’ve learned to ensure that they are kept in your memory.
The following tools and websites will help you build your vocabulary.
- Online “word of the day” provides the word, its meaning, and use in a sentence.
- English-Word Information provides the ability to question a word, its root, and its meaning.
- Dictionary is a standard reference book for everyone. It provides the meaning, root, English pronunciation, sentence use, synonyms, and other information. Dictionaries are available in both hardcopy and online.
- A thesaurus is simply a dictionary of synonyms and antonyms. It is extremely helpful when trying to find the correct word and not overuse the same words. It is also available in both hardcopy and online.
- Get The Words is another online source of terms that cover many scientific disciplines.
- Improving Vocabulary offers many ways of improving vocabulary by providing helpful links to other sites with instructional formats and games.
- Vocabulary.com uses the dictionary combined with puzzles and games.
These are just a few that are available to you. Once you enter some of these websites, you’ll find links to many other resources that can help you build your vocabulary. Take the time to investigate them.
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