May 5

PTE Academic: How Dictionaries Can Be Used To Improve Your Vocabulary

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Most test takers know that improving their vocabulary is an important component of PTE Academic test preparation. However, it's not just a matter of knowing a word’s meaning and pronunciation, you also need to know which words to use and how to use them effectively in different situations.  How to go about learning this can be quite confusing. In this article, we will take a look at how you can effectively use online dictionaries to learn new vocabulary for the PTE academic test.


How To Find New Words


First of all, you should source words through active reading and listening before you crack open a dictionary. Doing this will give you a better understanding of how a word should be used and you can try and work out what they mean from the context in which you read them. Once you have done this, you can look up the word in a dictionary.


How To Use Online Dictionaries


You can use hard copies or online versions such as dictionary.com and thesaurus.com.  When you come across a new word, look it up in the dictionary. An online dictionary will give you the definition and will let you hear the pronunciation. I think it’s best to use online dictionaries like Collins or Longmans since these dictionaries offer a wide variety of useful phrases and synonyms related to each word. You can also find lots of useful information about the grammar and usage of a word, including multiple definitions for every word.

Online dictionaries also display common idiomatic expressions and collocations that are related to the word you are looking up.

A collocation is just a common grouping of words that native English speakers use. There is no real reason behind these groupings. A good example of this is the phrase ' fast food'. We wouldn’t say 'quick food' even though the words quick and fast mean exactly the same thing. Some other common collocations include 'heavy rain, strong coffee' etc.

Using collocations and some idiomatic expressions can help you to sound more like a native speaker, and this can improve both your writing and speaking scores.

Make sure that you record the new words and phrases in a way that’s easy for revision.

You should include more than just the word and meaning. Apart from just recording the word, you should note:

  • Meaning
  • Pronunciation
  • Synonyms
  • Collocations
  • Idioms related to the word/phrase
  • The tense or grammatical structure of the word or phrase.

Avoid merely memorizing these new words. Try using them. Jot down a few sentences that include the word or phrase to show its meaning and in what situation you could use it. Remember to practice its pronunciation as well. Doing this is the fastest way to ensure that new words are stored in your long term memory.


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