Strategies for improving TOEFL vocabulary

On his Essential Words for the TOEFL, Third Edition, Steven J. Matthiesen (2004) suggests six strategies to improve TOEFL vocabulary:

Read a lot
The best way to build vocabulary is through reading. Read authentic English language materials, as newspapers, college text-books, encyclopedia articles, magazines, and academic books.
Nowadays you can find all these kind of authentic texts and more in the Web.
Matthiesen suggests to pay attention to new groups of words, expressions, and phrases we encounter in our reading and also to take advantage of resources as native speakers to learn their meanings.

Make flash cards
Make small cards made of thick papers such as they can be fit in pockets. Matthiesen suggests writing the new word or group of words on one side of the card and on the other side to write synonyms. For example, “run a risk” and “take a chance” are similar in meaning: they are synonyms. In this case the ability to use new words is not as important as the ability to recognize new words and their meanings.

Make word lists
It can be use a small notebook for this purpose. While reading when you discover a new word, add it to a list of words to be learned. To the right of the list, write synonyms for the new words. Matthiesen says that “it is also useful to reverse the process so that you practice both the new word and their synonyms” (page 22).

Learn words from old TOEFLs
Matthiesen advices that many words on previous TOEFL tests are sometimes tested again, “but they frequently appear among the four choices presented as synonyms for new words that are tested”.

Learn words from Essential Words for the TOEFL, Third Edition
Matthiesen suggests including all words listed in the book on the cards and lists. To learn prefixes, suffixes, and word roots we can see Chapter 4 of the book in reference.

Learn to use a Thesaurus
“A thesaurus is a dictionary of synonyms”. On the other hand the thesaurus can be build by us. The use of an English language dictionary can be useful for the purpose. It is important to notice that “the TOEFL tests only those words that have a variety of synonyms” (page 22) and the use of a thesaurus is reviewed on Chapter 5 of Matthiesen’s book.

Well, we hope this strategies can be helpful for you if you are preparing your TOEFL test and if not, these can be useful in your daily English teaching activities.

More Tips on TOEFLs

M. Katheleen Mahnke & Carolyne B. Duffy’s TOEFL Preparation Course (Heinemann Edition, 1996). The authors suggest some tips to study in a better way for the TOEFL. Here it is one of them:

Check the attitude of the Author and the Tone of the Passage

A question on the TOEFL that asks about the attitude of the author or the tone of the passage requires that you think about the whole passage. Most often reading passages on the TOEFL give information in an objective way, and the author’s point of view is neutral. The tone of these passages is informational. However, in some passages the author may express how he or she feels about the topic, the ideas, or the issues that he or she has written about. In these passages you should look for words that show an emotion or a strong point of view. Recognizing these words will help you to understand the attitude of the author and the tone of the passage (Mahnke & Duffy, 1996:297).

7 comentarios:

Mónica Jasmín dijo...

Hi Víctor:

You are right, thanks for share this strategies, of course can be useful for my english comprehesion and the lesson plan. I am goin to use them, and I'll tell you my resuls.

See you soon,
Mónica Jasmín

Rocio Martinez dijo...

Maybe you can add another strategy... making a blog!!!... Really!! I've been writting anything, well, ALMOST anything... even when I know it couldn�t be interesting for no one person but me... (By the way, You're so kind reading mine, thanks! ;) ) I know, I know... :) In fact, I feel that I'm improving a little bit my english... at least my writting... (imagine how was it before...!! ). Of course, the complement has been reading your beautiful blog ;). I�m so happy 'cause, finally, I�m practicing the language. Thanks a lot!

dianacastanion63 dijo...

To come across with a group of teachers whose desire, to become better teacher everyday is extraordinary.
Vic, I congratulate you for impregnating the value of hard work to those teachers who are around you in order to help others to grow.

Anónimo dijo...

Thanks for giving us these strategies. I think they are very important but, I think it is very important, too, to review the English Grammar and there are a lot of materials about it, for example: "The Heinemann English Grammar", New Edition, and the Taylor's Grammar in Use, available in Delti.
And greetings to everyone in the TOEFL Course with Maricruz.
A lot of kisses for you Víctor and my love, too.

Anónimo dijo...

Hi Victor, I'm glad very much your blog, it´s a big effort and I think all the participants have many resources for make the english teaching a different experience.

By the way, ¡congratulations! my friend.


Anónimo dijo...

my God, i thought you were going to chip in with some decisive insght at the end there, not leave it with ‘we leave it to you to decide’.

nancy john dijo...

Nice post about TOEFL Vocabulary it is very useful for students