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Summer Reading Part One: Building Your Vocabulary

In learning on June 18, 2009 at 10:00 am

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Reading is the single best thing you can do to improve your vocabulary. Even if you love literature and enjoy reading in your native language, I know it’s difficult to spend your summer reading in English. It’s frustrating to sit with your dictionary in hand, deciphering each sentence and word as you slowly, slowly move through the book. It’s well worth the effort, though

If you can avoid looking up every word in the dictionary, there’s nothing like sitting on the beach or in the shade somewhere during the summer, reading a good novel. The pace of life slows down when you read, and you can sink into the story in a way that’s impossible even with movies. Also, reading is good for your brain, excellent for your vocabulary, and classic escape from daily life.


A few facts reasons to read:

  • Reading increases your vocabulary more effectively (and faster) than speaking and listening do. This is because, in conversation, we tend to use the same set of words over and over again. In writing, this repetition doesn’t happen nearly so often, so you’re more likely to run into new words. The more you encounter new words, the bigger your vocabulary will get.
  • Reading also protects the brain from aging. I know. You’re still too young to think about this, but if you develop the habit of reading now, your brain power will stay in great shape as you get older.
  • This is a strange fact, but reading actually activates the sensory and motor parts of our brain that are related to the word we’re reading. When you read the word “cinnamon,” your brain reacts to the idea of cinnamon. If we read a story about a person experiencing love, our brain actually mimics the feeling of being in love. In this way, we have new experiences through reading.

In my next post, I’ll introduce you to a tool to make reading more social — and I’ll share with you some of my favorite novels that I think you might enjoy too. Then, in July and August, I’ll give you a few more suggestions of books that you might enjoy.

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NEWS YOU MIGHT FIND INTERESTING
On the topic of reading, Life Dev blogger Glen wrote about more benefits of reading, including better analytical thinking and greater relaxation. Check out his post here.

Also, I recently came across a blog post about the benefits of having an American roommate. The post talks about what benefits an international student can get from an American roommate, but your roommate will learn a lot too. When I was an undergraduate, my roommate was an international student, and, while I helped her understand idioms and get through those Victorian novels our English professor assigned, she taught me about culture and language. We became lifelong friends.

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  1. […] in my little series on summer reading. Last month, we talked about the reasons that reading can increase your English vocabulary faster than any other type of English practice, and I shared a few novels that I think you might […]

  2. […] will be my final post in the summer reading series. We’ve talked about why reading is the best thing to help you expand your English vocabulary, and so far, I’ve shared a dozen novels that you might […]

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