504 Absolutely Essential Words Paperback – 24 Jun 2005
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This carefully selected vocabulary collection is the essential core of words that need to be known and correctly used by students and other adults for whom English is a second language. It presents 42 brief but effective word-building lessons. Each lesson introduces twelve new words contained in sample sentences and short articles. Fill-in-the-blanks exercises help students gauge their word-building progress.
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You want to improve your American English vocabulary?
You also want to avoid the verbose academic methods?
Stop here! You get it!
I've just finished "504..." today and frankly, I'm fully satisfied. Murray, Julius and Arthur have set up a very intuitive and captivating course: a set of 42 lessons cut up in 7 sessions, each session separated by a review.
How does a typical lesson work?
You have a list of 12 words in a yellow vignette, so you can see what you're gonna learn in a quick glance. The details appear on the right: for each of the words, you have: their standard pronunciation(s) (essential!), their definition(s) and 3 examples of common use. After that, a short article using all of them is presented. The coolest thing is you often meet in the example sentences and articles the words you learnt before. It's a good way to practice them again and test your learning. And you know what? Some articles can even teach you many things beyond English!
Then come 3 exercises. Two are repeated over the lessons: you have 12 sentences with blanks and you fill them in with one of the words. The second standard exercise is an illustration and you are encouraged to find which of the words is hidden behind.
The 3rd exercise varies, depending on the lesson. You can expect one of these:
* Make up your own 12 sentences,
* Find synonyms or antonyms,
* Find the words from their definition,
* Find among 12 phrases those which don't make sense.
Each lesson should not take you more than an hour, maybe even less. Besides, it happened from time to time that 1/2 hour was sufficient for me.
"Okay", I heard you say, "but I'm still not convinced. How did you do in practice?"
Well, generally, I tried to follow 5 lessons a week, i.e one after my workday.
I looked at the new words I had to learn and checked the pronunciation. I repeated each word 10 times aloud, even if I didn't know what it meant. Afterwards, I repeated all the list up and down as many times as needed (between 3 and 5 times) for my pronunciation to be a reflex. I didn't want to take bad habits of pronunciation by reading the definition first and realize half a minute later that my mouth and my tongue hadn't done their job correctly, you see. A word is like a girl's name. She likes to hear her name pronounced correctly. When a boy meet a damsel for the first time and plans to keep in touch with her, he longs to know her name and he'll carefully use it the next time. I think it's the same for a word. Try to be nice to it and name it correctly before living with it. You should do this for *all* the words: if pologamy is illegal, polywordy isn't ;)
So, as soon as I was at ease with the pronunciation, I read the examples *before* the definition. Why? Because I wanted to guess the meaning: I had noticed that a word is all the better memorized as you feel you already know it somehow. Finally, to check my guess, I read the definition and went to the next word. I repeated the process twice, just to be sure. Of course, the 2nd time was faster. Then, I did the exercises.
What if I already knew some of the words? In fact, out of these 504 essential words, I already knew 1/3 of them but I don't regret anything because I saw a great number of them used in contexts I would never have suspected :), so I felt richer anyway.
About the exercises, I told you you were asked sometimes to create your own 12 sentences. I confess I happened to find it not challenging enough. In that case, instead of 12 independant phrases, I wrote a little story using the 12 words, like in the article. It's a good way to develop their loyalty and challenge your creativity.
But it isn't the end yet! In case you'd be still afraid not to be trained enough, the 7 reviews in the yellow pages are here to reassure you. They are organized somewhat differently compared to the lessons.
Each review contains 7 exercises:
1) Choose the good word in phrases between two suggestions,
2) Find opposites,
3) Rebuild newspaper headlines,
4) Find words from their definitions,
5) Complete a letter with words from a list,
6) Find analogies,
7) Make sentences with words that do double-duty.
Of course, you'll find again the words of the immediately previous lessons but also a few more from even farther ones.
The exercise on analogies is tough sometimes, that's really my opinion. Words that do double-duty are very exciting because you learn that some words you have been taught as verbs for instance can also be considered as nouns or adjectives.
I needed 3 months to complete the method and I enjoyed it like a little kid.
So, if I convinced you, enjoy it too! :))