This is a guest post by Neeraj.
Non-native writers such as me find lack of vocabulary to be a major hindrance for exceptional writing. Anyone can learn to write, and if you put your mind to it, you can make money writing. When writing, knowing and using strong vocabulary will double the amount you will earn in an hour.
Vocabulary adds glamour and panache to a well structured article. Consider these two examples:
Example 1: When I first started working, we didn’t have all the fresh technological services that make today’s business world move at such a fast pace.
Example 2: When I first entered the workforce, we didn’t have all the modern technological conveniences that assist rapid evolution within today’s business world.
As you may notice, these two passages have minor differences, but the second sounds more concise, concrete and succinct. Examples such as these highlight the importance of good vocabulary, which is an essential part of good writing – technical or non-technical. Many employers prefer freelancers that have a strong command of their language, and good vocabulary is an essential filtering criterion. Research has shown that people are more likely to be judged as competent and smart if they possess and use good vocabulary.
Mastering a language can be difficult and time-intensive process. The process requires constant practice and devotion to learning, speaking and writing in the language you wish to master. It would be misleading to suggest that you could expert any language within certain time-frame. Vocabulary can be difficult to master, but it can be done and it has been done. When I first got interested in checking the extent of my knowledge, I looked for approximate number of words I knew (Test Your Vocabulary) , which turned out to be approximately 23,500 words. (You can check yours too; feel free to share it in comments section below!). 3 months on, as I prepare for my GRE exam, my vocabulary stands at 33,000 words. This is a dramatic yet expected increase.
These 5 tips will help you achieve high vocabulary, as they helped me:
The first and most important step towards stronger vocabulary – Read. You can start by reading a book a week. This can be tough challenge if you have little free time, but try and capitalize on any travel time you may have. It is recommended to carry a book with you at all times, and read it while you are on a bus, in a train or simply waiting to meet someone. A couple of pages here and there can really add new words to your vocabulary. For example, if you read Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, you can easily pick up more than 20 unique words in 2 pages.
2. Comprehend What You Read
Do you ever eat food just to fill your stomach? Would it be better to eat something if it tastes good as well as fills you up? Reading is similar to eating. You should understand and comprehend what you read, allowing you to appreciate the words and overall message of the text. Try and picture the word in your mind, create a story around it, and let the word sink in deep in your psyche.
3. Focused Learning
Many people disagree with the notion of ‘learning a language’, as it suffocates its true appreciation. Like me, many of you didn’t speak your first words in English. So focused learning becomes important. Follow this simple tip: Open a random page in the dictionary, and note down a word and its meaning. Do this process 5 times, and do this every day. Within 3 months, you will know over 400 new words, and if you are curious enough, you could double up your vocabulary arsenal in time.
4. Don’t Know a Word? Figure It Out
This is an excellent way to ‘attack’ new text without dictionary. Understanding a word in context, and if necessary, breaking it down makes reading fun. Consider this example:
He ceased his impersonation and permitted himself something nearly approaching a grin.
If you don’t know the meaning of the word impersonation, look around it, and break the word down. Im-person-ation. Person refers to something personal in nature; -ation is usually sign of an action, and Im- suggests opposite of something. So impersonation refers to an action suggesting taking something personal and using it, opposite to original intention. In actual, impersonation is defined as ‘pretending to be another person’, which contains all 3 aspects described above.
If the word is still confusing, you can use the context surrounding the word to comprehend it.
5. Read Some More
This step cannot be emphasized enough. Improving vocabulary rests entirely on the extent to which you are willing to work and the extent to which you are willing to read. If you see an excellently written blog post, bookmark it and read the whole blog. Read dailies and anything that improves your vocabulary. This is a never-ending process, so buckle down and pick up some text to read.
Hopefully, these tips will prove instrumental in enhancing an important part of your writing. Remember, you are judged by the quality of your writing, so why not improve it?
Neeraj Sachdeva is a blogger who uses psychology to write about Freelancing and Self-Improvement, often together. You can find his take on The Art of Persuasion as well as his latest post on The Essence of Friendship over at The Next Goal, part of WBB Survivor contest.