Bookish Topic Tuesday & Daniel Shares
Vocabulary and Language Learning
So this post isn’t really on books, it’s on the writing in books, and some awesome places to improve your vocabulary. I have done this before and in fact I’m re-sharing one site, but it’s so good that I want to bring it back to your attention. Obviously vocabulary is a very important thing, and when you are reading books, you are going to pick up on a lot of words, but more often than not, there are words in a book that you have no idea what it means. But, no big deal, since you can easily skip past it, and the value of the book isn’t really lost, since after all, it’s just one sentence out of countless thousands. Or, you can quickly pull out your phone and search it up (which is what I tend to try and do). Or make a note of it (something I used to do, and might re-start since seeing the meaning once, doesn’t mean I’ve learnt the word) for later reference. If you’re reading on a e-reader obviously you have the easiest option, of searching it up, without having to do that much.
Authors tend to sneak in a few rarer, and more complicated words, into books, just because it’s the best word that fits, though obviously, they can’t use too many, otherwise they alienate a lot of people who don’t have the extensive vocabularies like authors tend to have. So, I’ve found two pretty cool ways to improve your vocabulary. Just a note, that I am so not paid for these endorsements, I just love them so much that I want to share them.
I’ve shared this one before, it’s a place to not only improve your vocabulary, brush up on your French, Italian, German (plus more), test yourself on the periodic table, human anatomy, geography, famous paintings, quotations, basic math, or even study for the SATs, but it’s also a place where you can easily, and freely help combat world hunger. You are given a question, with four multiple choice options, choose the right one, and you’ll be donating 10 grains of rice to feed the world’s hungry. Obviously 10 grains isn’t that much, but in 10 minutes, you’ll have accumulated quite a lot, and just think of that being multiplied millions of times over across the world. There are numerous difficulty levels, and you’ll advance after you get three correct in a row, if you get one wrong, you go down a level, and that question will keep reappearing until you get it right. Another cool feature is that on the English vocab questions, you can get it to pronounce it, so you can hear how to say it, which is pretty handy when you start encountering new words.
This is a site that’s been around since 1998 (well, it was certainly different back then), I believe it had a makeover in 2011, to look as it does now, and bring itself into the modern era. And it is a very slick website. What’s more, is that is is completely free, and there is no advertising. Which makes sceptics wonder how they could possibly exist, they must make their money from something. I don’t know what they could sell about our personal information since you don’t have to give that much, and all you are doing is learning, so it shouldn’t be a concern. Not only is it a dictionary, and to be honest, it’s a really good dictionary, I’ll be using it way more often now, easy to understand and actually useful, plus, no ads! It is also, another vocabulary learning tool, just like Freerice, there are usually multiple choice questions with four options to choose from. But differently, this is more about learning words, so, it tracks your progress with a word you didn’t know, so once you’ve got all it’s meanings, and you can spell it, you’ve mastered it. When you get a word wrong, it provides you with an in depth description of the word, with examples. And the questions are varied, there are sentences with the word, fill in the blank phrases, definitions, antonyms, it’s very comprehensive. And addictive! I just found myself going through more and more words, not wanting to stop. There are 10 words in each round, and in the next round words you got wrong in the previous round will reappear, and will continue to do so, until you’ve mastered the word (even then, they’ll pop up again just to make sure you remember it). Plus there are word lists, where you can learn for SATs, learn vocab form books (like Great Gatsby), from speeches, and you can make your own! Definitely worth checking out.
Now this isn’t so much about vocabulary, as it is about learning another language! Which is also important if you want to read another book in its original language perhaps. You can currently choose from French, Italian, German, Portuguese and Spanish and more languages are planned in the future. There are iPhone and Android aps available as well, which means you can learn on the go. It’s really great, you learn phrases and words, from the outset, with hints along the way to help you. It can get a little repetitive when you have to keep doing the same section over and over since you ran out of lives, but repetition works for learning. Once again, it’s free! Which again sounds slightly suspicious, but apparently it pays for itself, as user translated work is paid for by companies. But, that’s not really relevant, since, I haven’t felt like I’ve been doing translation work. I’ve been learning! You have to repeat phrases, fill in the blank, translate from one language to the other, write the translation of a phrase when said to you, it’s very varied so it keeps you engaged. Definitely worth considering if you want to learn another language for free!