Looking back

In order to understand written and spoken discourse, it is important to expand your vocabulary. So if you want to have the right tools to express your ideas clearly, this is what you have to do to improve your vocabulary.

  1. Look up the meaning of new words in dictionaries
  2. Keep a record of the words you learn
  3. Try to use those words when writing or speaking
  4. Use word association
  5. Read graded books in English
  6. Watch movies in English

There are two types of dictionaries, monolingual and bilingual ones.

A monolingual dictionary shows an explanation of a word in the language you’re learning, and a bilingual dictionary gives you the translation of the word in your native language.

Whenever you look up words in a monolingual dictionary, be sure to check the pronunciation and some examples in context. It is useful to check online dictionaries, because you can hear the exact pronunciation. Take a look at the following words and their explanation, just the way you would find them in a monolingual dictionary:

nowadays🔊 at the present time
zillion🔊 an extremely large number
illiterate🔊 unable to read and write
accurate🔊 precise and free from error
drought🔊 a long period of dry weather
unfair🔊 characterized by inequality or justice
eradicate🔊 to remove or destroy completely
ripped jeans🔊 A style of jeans with tears, often on the knees but possibly in other locations
harassment🔊 a behavior that annoys or upsets someone: for example, humiliate or embarrass a person.
overcome🔊 to successfully control a feeling or problem that prevents you from achieving something
slavery🔊 the activity of legally buying other people who are forced to work for or obey you
disabled🔊 When you don’t have the physical ability to do something, for example, an ability to walk or to coordinate one's movements, as from the effects of a disease or accident

Don’t know how to pronounce a word?

Don’t worry, there is a great variety of online resources that can help you to improve your pronunciation. Check out these online dictionaries:

You just have to type a word and then click on the 🔊 button to listen to the pronunciation.

Note: US / NAmE 🔊 = American English Pronunciation

BrE 🔊 = British English pronunciation

Writing exercise

Now that you know the definitions of the words that you’re going to study, we will provide you with other examples for you to reinforce those words. And remember, it’s always recommendable to put into practice the vocabulary that you study, so try to use it when speaking or writing. 

droughts   - slavery   - disabled -  illiterate  - nowadays   -  eradicate  - zillions 

There are more droughts now than in the past because of climate change.
In the nineteenth century there was slavery in the United States.
When the Second World War ended, many disabled veterans returned to the U.S.
In Mexico, José Vasconcelos wanted to reduce the number of illiterate people with murals that illustrated historical facts.
Some years ago, the first mobile phones were really heavier, but nowadays they are lighter.
Smallpox was an easy disease to eradicate because it only affected humans.
Select exercise

In the following paragraph you will find a description of someone’s day. Write the missing words from the box.

Yesterday was a kind of bad day, I worked really hard on my homework, but my teacher returned my report because she said the information was not and now I have to check more reliable websites. To make things worse she said that we had homework for this holiday, and of course everyone considered it . But I have to confess it wasn’t that bad at the end of the day because my friend told me I had to my shyness and I asked my crush to go out on a date with me and she accepted.