Expand your Vocabulary

Some people have a way of expressing the exact thing they feel, others…uh, ahem, ahhh, simply, do not have enough words. As an UPSC aspirant, words not only shape your communication but also sharpens it. Evidently, a decent vocabulary opens one’s mind, and if you are a Civil Services Aspirant — it’ll also get you tangible results.

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Rudyard Kipling said it rightly — “Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.”

Often, the activity of vocabulary expansion, even after its life changing capabilities, is considered only for speakers and writers. We all should acknowledge that the point of a good vocabulary is not just knowing a handful extra words, but, being able to choose them with greater precision. Vocabulary acts as your communication toolbox — every word is a tool for us — ready to be used at the right time.

Chanakya IAS Academy

We deliberately look for new effective ways to help our students expand their vocabulary. Here, are a few suggestions by our subject matter experts;

1. Refer Dictionary…Fast!

The most valuable lesson in vocabulary expansion is to look up, relentlessly, for the definition of every unfamiliar word you get exposed to. One should be practical and should not expect miracles with words, and give them enough time to remember, usually five to six times. It’s surprising how rare it is for people to refer the same word multiple times — but that’s the only proven method for the retention; repeated exposure.

There are infinite words to learn, and indeed, it’s overwhelming to tackle several words at a time. This method to learn unfamiliar words as you’re exposed to, makes the process easier.

Note: Don’t just refer these words; write them down to look them up later.

2. Read Every Day

Every time you run for an advice, especially for any life-based problem, you’re bound to receive this trick: read every day. It might sound like an obvious cliché, but reading every day, even for a brief period, helps you in framing the overall structure of a language.

Let’s say, you commit to 10 pages per day challenge for a year. This would result in over 3650 pages of reading, which is equivalent to 18 books. It doesn’t matter what you read — reading as a hobby, itself, has an immense effect on one’s language.

3. Never shy away from asking help

We, often find friends and family members using words that we don’t recognise. As an UPSC aspirant, who is inclined towards learning for longer periods — take advantage of these scenarios, and politely ask your friends and family members the meanings of the unfamiliar words.

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As the famous saying goes, “He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; he who doesn’t remain a fool forever.”

Asking a friend’s help associates the word with a memory, which helps in retaining the word. Markedly, memories are easier to remember than the definitions.

4. Use Mnemonic Devices

Mnemonic devices are excellent memory techniques to retain information, which is also very compatibility with the human brain. There are two types of mnemonic devices; memory encoding and retrieval cues.

There are two major ways to imply mnemonics for remembering a word; one, you could attach a memory to a word or two, hide cues around a word to later extract the meaning.

Note: The unique, the strange the story or cue is, easier it gets to remember the name.

5. Have Patience

No matter how good you are at memorizing information, you must acknowledge that vocabulary expansion is a slow process and to considerably learn enough words, which is around 10,000 words, it takes time.

“Learning is Marathon, not a Sprint.”

Repetition is a critical step in learning and essential to retain information. And often, more than usual, people give up before even realizing that the process of expansion has started. Don’t!

Be patient.

When we teach our students on expanding their vocabulary, we start by pushing words into them, gradually. We encourage them to ask questions — to not being concerned with what others might think. But, never in our process, we claim like a tele-brand ad. that results are guaranteed in 30 days, which is often, almost, impossible, which is another way of saying that the only way to Vocabulary expansion is; Hard-work and Patience.

Good Luck!

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