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Learning Vocabulary

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After having a cute little baby girl, I am pretty much stuck at home, both physically and mentally, taking well care of her. I really want to do something else in the mean time… and I figure out this is the best time to sharpen up my vocabulary power – something that I have been wanted to do for a while now.

So I did my homework. As we all know, one of the best ways to earn vocabulary is to use flashcards. Now with the aid of smart phones, iTouch, and tablets, learning vocabulary is even easier. You don’t need to carry heavy and cumbersome stacks of cards with you. All you need is one of the above devices and a good flashcards app. My favorite? Anki and Quizlet.

Quizlet is a very popular flashcards website. They have many users, and hence, a huge collection of user-created flashcards to choose from, covering a wide variety of subjects. You can find cards about any language or subject at school.They have different learning modes for you to choose from so it will be hard to get bored. They are also supported by many flashcards apps, and have their own useful app for iPhone, iTouch and iPad user. Unfortunately they don’t have any app for Android.

Anki is an open source project. They support pretty much every platform, PC, Mac, iOS, and Android. Although it is a bit more complicated to create flashcards through them, they support html and LaTex, so you can make personalized and more intuitive flashcards. They have a powerful learning algorithm, so what you tend to forget often, they’ll make it appear more often.

Now you have the tool. What to learn? I would recommend Oxford 3000 for general study purpose. For other tests, a quick Google search will give you plenty of lists. If you are using Quizlet, you’ll be likely to find tons of decks for TOEFL, SAT, GRE, and GMAT vocabulary. Decks created in Anki are private by default, thus there will be a limited number of decks you can choose from. But, of course, for the best learning experience, you can always create your own decks, or create them with a group of friends.

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Vietgle phù hợp với mọi trình độ AV

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Đôi khi bạn quên mất từ tiếng Việt của một từ tiếng Anh quen thuộc… và tôi cũng thế. Làm thế nào mà ngày hôm nay tôi dịch mãi không được từ “update” ra tiếng Việt. Và thế là tôi lên địa chỉ vdict.com quen thuộc để tìm trợ giúp. Trớ trêu thay vdict cũng không biết dịch từ này thế nào. Thôi thì tôi lại quay qua hỏi bạn Google ở http://translate.google.com.vn/, và bạn ấy trả lời tôi khá tốt. Nhân tiện tôi tra thêm một số từ và thấy bạn Google làm việc khá tốt với các từ đơn. 

Tuy nhiên vẫn tò mò không biết có trang web nào khác giúp dịch Anh-Việt trực tuyến không, tôi lại hỏi bạn Google và phát hiện ra trang web Vietgle tại http://www.vietgle.vn/home/. Trang này hình như được lập ra bởi Lạc Việt. Ở đây ngoài tra từ bạn còn có thể đọc thêm về Tri Thức Việt như các nhân vật, sự kiện, địa danh, du lịch, v.v…, xem các bức hình danh lam thắng cảnh qua Ống Kính Việt, và xem danh sách một số sách hay mới phát hành.

Khi vào trang chuyên dụng http://tratu.vietgle.vn/, ngoài việc tra từ, bạn còn có thể tìm thêm nhiều thông tin hữu ích cho việc học ngoại ngữ như học từ, nghe phát âm, xem các cặp câu song ngữ, các từ và cụm từ tiếng Anh thông dụng, phân tích ngữ pháp. Trong Thư viện tài liệu bạn có thể đọc về các Kỹ năng, các kì thi trong nước và quốc tế, các phương pháp học tiếng Anh, thành ngữ, và tiếng Anh vỡ lòng, giao tiếp, chuyện ngành và cả dịch thuật. Trang này cũng cung cấp một forum để các bạn giao lưu trao đổi và giúp đỡ nhau, cũng như các bài đọc hay và hữu ích về nhiều chủ đề, rất tốt cho các bạn muốn trau dồi thêm kiến thức chung hay chuẩn bị cho các kì thi quốc tế.

Ngoài xem nội dung phong phú, bạn còn có thể chọn xem trang này bằng tiếng Việt hay tiếng Anh. Vì vậy tôi thấy trang này phù hợp cho mọi trình độ Anh văn, từ các bạn mới học đến các bạn đã có kiến thức tiếng Anh khá vững vàng.

Ngoài ra, Vietgle còn có hỗ trợ học các ngôn ngữ khác như tiếng Pháp, tiếng Trung, hay tiếng Hàn. Tôi sẽ để các bạn nào quan tâm đến những ngôn ngữ này tự khám phá nhé 🙂

Ace your vocabulary with Vocabulary.com

Vocabulary.com is amongst the 50 best websites 2012 by Time (only of them is education website). It feature a down-to-earth dictionary, which is fun, easy to read and easy to understand.

“Our dictionary is different. Most vocabulary words include a short blurb that describes what the word means and how the word is used. These blurbs are easy to understand and fun to read. If there’s an entertaining story about the word, we include it. If the word can be confused with another, we include that information as well. The point is to help you learn and remember the words you look up without having to look it up a hundred times.”

Beside a brief definition, a dictionary-type example, synonyms and antonyms, you’ll also learn the meaning of the word as we explain it to each other, as well as a bit history of the word. For commonly confused words, there are articles to describe the difference right next to the definition. Moreover, there are real-life usage examples taken from newspapers and magazines. Last but not least, you’ll find a small box which shows the word’s family and how popular each member is (how often you’ll find the word in a text).  How nice is that!

But one of the most loved feature of the website is that it helps you learn words in a fun and effective way. The website develops its own way to personalize your learning experience. They have their own word lists, and they also allow you to create and share your own lists. For detail information about the website and what you can do with it, have a look at how it works.

The website looks lovely. It is intuitive and easy to follow. As many other website, they have their own blog for news and announcements.

This website is more suitable for intermediate to advanced English learners.

Learning Words Efficiently Using Prefixes, Suffices, and Root Words

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We all know how a powerful vocabulary may improve our English proficiency. It makes us look smarter (seriously! 😉 ), helps us better explaining ourselves and understanding others. A common way to learn vocabulary for ESL students is to memorize words. However, I would say the best way is to invest some time in learning root words, prefixes and suffixes. These will help you guess the meaning of new words and memorize them easier (make sure you still look it up in a dictionary to get the precise meaning and any other implication it might have). They can even help you guess what a word you want might look like.

An excerpt from a post in VirtualSalt at http://www.virtualsalt.com/roots.htm will clarify my point:

Many words are made up of a root (or base word) and a prefix. Some words also have a suffix. For example, the root word port means to carry or to bear. Attach the prefix ex, meaning out or out of, and you have the word export, to carry out. Attach the prefix im, meaning in or into and you have import, to carry in. Attach the prefix trans, meaning across, and you have transport, meaning to carry across. Now let’s attach the suffix able, meaning able to be, and you have importable, exportable, and transportable.

This is a powerful tool which is more or less neglected from our learning process.

A quick search in google will show a number of interesting and fun websites which provides not only the list of prefaces and suffices, but also games to help us memorize those words. Here are some of them that I find most interesting:

Different lists of prefixes, suffixes and root words (all with examples) are

– Commonly used, with explanation on how words work: http://www.virtualsalt.com/roots.htm, http://www.readingrockets.org/article/40406/, http://www.englishleap.com/vocabulary/root-words

– Comprehensive list: http://www.learnthat.org/pages/view/roots.html, with sample words and their definitions

– Commonly used for GRE: https://www.msu.edu/~defores1/gre/roots/gre_rts_afx2.htm?….

– Simple teaching: http://www.betterendings.org/homeschool/words/root%20words.htm

Fun and interactive root words games can be found at http://www.vocabulary.co.il/root-words/ and http://www.funbrain.com/roots/index.html.

Have fun learning English 🙂

Can you Speel It?

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Most commonly misspelled words, even for native speaker.

The Daily Post

Courtesy, as pretty much always, of Bryan A. Garner, here’s a list of 25 of the most commonly misspelled words in the English language.

  • accommodate
  • committee
  • consensus
  • definitely
  • embarrass
  • expedite
  • grammar
  • harass
  • hors d’oeuvre
  • innovate
  • inoculate
  • lieu
  • millennium
  • minuscule
  • misspelling
  • noticeable
  • occurrence
  • pavilion
  • persevere
  • playwright
  • receive
  • restaurateur
  • separate
  • supersede
  • ukulele

Commit these to memory, and should you ever find yourself needing to accommodate a ukulele player who wishes to receive an inoculation from a playwright while persevering at his art in a pavilion, you’ll be spared the embarrassment of making any innovative misspellings, whether minuscule or easily noticeable.

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