Monday, April 21, 2008Since a particular word expresses a particular meaning, it makes sense to know as many words as possible.
Any language teacher worth his thesaurus will tell you that to enrich your vocabulary, you should read as much as possible. Books by good authors will let you know how a particular word is used so you can use that word in the right context. Another way learn words is to play word games.
Once modern kids learnt their alphabets, parents play the "I Spy" game. On long road trips, this game distracts restless kids for a bit. You have never played the game before? That's the game when someone says "I spy with my little eyes something that begins with an A (or whatever letter that applies)" and the kids will hopefully stop gouging each other's eyes out and look for the answer. Of course you cannot play the game when the kids are engrossed in their iPods, handheld PSPs or similar gadgets. Neither will you have to play the game if your car is equipped with a CD/DVD player and a decent monitor.
At home, you can play word games that you find in the papers (crosswords, wordmaze etc.). The best place to play word games is of course on the computer. On computers with chunky graphics we used to have Hangman that helped with spelling. As computers get more powerful, we get better and more sophisticated word games. Look up Text Twist (or Text Twister for the PDA) which is basically anagrams. The computer will give you 6 jumbled letters and you have to make as many words possible. You make enough words you go up the next level. Google for this game and you can even play it online. I play it on my old Zire 71 while waiting for the ice in my Apple Kasturi to melt.
If you are a Scrabble kaki you already know that the game is one of the most pleasant way to improve your vocabulary. Never mind that you will never use words like AI (a 3 toed South American sloth) or XU (a unit of Vietnamese currency) in everyday life. Of course there is a computer version of the game. There was one for the ATARI, which is a very old computer indeed. In my opinion, the best Scrabble game you can have on the computer so far is Scrabble 2007 by Ubisoft. You can order it online for 19.90 British pounds. If you so wish, you can try looking for it at Plaza Yow Chuan or you can search the torrents. Scrabble 2007 has the Collins Official Scrabble Dictionary built in and it has exercises like puzzles and anagrams to prepare you for your matches with the computer. There are many computer players. Each has a human name and each has his/her own personality. There are many levels, starting with Student. Once you reach the highest level, it is not easy to beat the computer. But, if you look hard enough, there is a way to beat the computer. If you do not find it, feel free to ask me.