10 tips to learn new English vocabulary

I’m from Mexico and for me studying a new language here in Edinburgh wasn’t easy at the beginning!  Every time I wanted to learn a new word I was trying to memorize it but that wasn’t helpful at all!!  So here are 10 tips that I used to improve my English vocabulary, hoping it will be useful for you:

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  1. Try to read every day in the new language (books, newspaper, magazines, etc)
  2. When you identify an unfamiliar word, try to understand the context and then verify the definition in the dictionary
  3. Every time you want to know the meaning of a word, try to use the new language dictionary so you can learn more synonyms
  4. Make a vocabulary diary where you can write the new words and try to read it at least once a day
  5. Create sentences with the new words, write them in post-its and paste them in your room, so you can look at them constantly
  6. When you learn a new word, try to identify if the word can be used as a noun, adjective, verb or adverb, to learn more than one way of using the word
  7. Be curious!!! Every time you don’t know the meaning of a word ask or search for the meaning
  8. Play games that make you use new words
  9. Try to write your favourite songs, this is helpful because every time you sing the song you will remember the meaning!
  10. Dividing words also can help to understand the meaning, for example: Bagpipes=Bag-Pipes

Post by: Mariana Candas

English idioms

What’s an idiom? For a student of English as a second language, it’s something similar to a nightmare. How else can you describe an expression whose meaning has nothing to do with the meaning of its individual words?!

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I’m an advanced English student from Spain, so I know first-hand how difficult it is!  From one confused learner to another, I’m going to help you understand some idioms that include plants and flowers:

1. Actually I wasn’t born with green fingers. My plants die quickly.

o   Green: colour

o   Fingers: on the hand

o   Green fingers?

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NOOOO! Here’s the definition of “green fingers” by wordreference.com

Green fingers: “considerable talent or ability to grow plants”

Now we can understand the first sentence: in other words, I’m not a great gardener.

 

2. I have heard he is pushing up the daisies.

o   Push up: move with force to a higher place

o   Daisies: flowers

o   Pushing up daisies?

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NOOOO! The definition of “pushing up daisies” by wordreference.com

Pushing up daisies: “dead and buried”

So, the meaning of the second sentence is: he’s dead!!!

 

3. After 40 years in the company, they put our supervisor out to pasture.

o   Put somebody out: to inconvenience somebody

o   Pasture: grass

o   Put someone out to pasture?

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NOOOO! Totally different:

Put someone out to pasture: “to make somebody retire”

It’s clear, isn’t it?

Food idioms in English

This week we’re going to explore the world of Food Idioms, and we’ll begin with sweet things.

What would you think if someone tells you these sentences?

  • The exam was a piece of cake. I am pretty sure I will pass it.
  • When I was a teenager, my parents thought I was as nutty as a fruitcake.
  • That’s the way the cookie crumbles. In the end it didn’t happen the way I’d hoped.

Let’s check them out one by one:

  • The exam was a piece of cake. I am pretty sure I will pass it.

–  A piece of cake:

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I know, the first meaning that comes to mind is that there is nothing sweet in an exam. And you aren’t wrong! But here it means that the exam was easy. So, next time you hear this sentence, REMEMBER! Cake is easy!

  • When I was a teenager, my parents thought I was as nutty as a fruitcake.

– Nutty: tasting of nuts.

– Fruitcake: cake made with fruit.

Do you have any clue about it? Forget it. It’s nothing to do with what you are thinking. The real meaning? My parents thought I was mad.

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  • That’s the way the cookie crumbles. In the end it didn’t happen the way I’d hoped.

– Cookie: biscuit.

– Crumble: fall apart.

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  • Here we have another difficult quiz. Any idea? No?  Well, that’s the way the cookie crumbles: That’s life and we can’t change it.

 

I leave you a funny video about Idioms and Tea from the BBC. Enjoy!