Tag Archives: linguistics

A Little Book of Language by David Crystal

A Little Book of LanguageA Little Book of Language by David Crystal

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I just done listening audio edition of this book and this is just a little comment/review about it.

Initially because of the word “little” in the title and number of opening chapters talking about how children develop their language abilities I was slightly concerned that I picked a wrong buck which going to talk exclusively about children speech development 🙂 But it turn out that this “little” book give all encompassing overview of all things language starting from children speech development and touching on all possible things language related: applied linguistics, sociolinguistics, forensic linguistics, etymology, dictionaries, endangered languages and languages revival, dialects and regionalisms, speech therapy so it is really Little book of Language.

In case you are not linguistics/language geek who wants to know everything about language you may find such book useful for example if you need what facet/aspect of language/linguistics you are interested to learn more about.

I guess I’m going to add more David Crystal‘s books on my ever growing to read/to listen list, and I think it is high time to finally read/listen something by Naom Chomsky as his books were on my to do list way too long 🙂

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What should I do to increase my vocabulary in English?

Answer by Anne W Zahra:

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When you study English, you have to learn a lot of words (vocabulary breadth).  You also must understand how to use the words you know.  (vocabulary depth).

Vocabulary breadth comes from word study.  You take courses and you learn lists of words and take tests.  You may buy a book or use software to study vocabulary words on your own.  You should do these things because you need to know 10,000 words or more to use academic English.

Vocabulary depth comes from reading and writing with feedbackVery few English students are taught in a way that builds vocabulary depth.  Materials that develop depth are uncommon.  Teachers are not trained to teach this way, but this is needed, very badly needed especially if you speak Arabic, Russian, Chinese or any language very, very different from English.

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A page from the Oxford series Words in Use, and a rare example of a textbook that teaches vocabulary depth.  Students must learn how to use vocabulary words (vocabulary depth), but few textbooks, courses of studies or individual teachers focus on this.  This is one of the major weaknesses in language teaching in general.

How do you overcome this problem?

Reading teaches you to understand the ways words are used.  If you don’t read a lot you will not know how to use the words because you will not understand how they are used.

Writing in the language for a class gives you feedback— important information about what is correct and what is wrong.  You need this feedback, and you must correct your mistakes and you must understand why what you wrote is a mistake.  That does not happen quickly.  It is not easy.  It takes years.

I speak three foreign languages.  I learned them mostly in school or studying them by myself.  I study specific texts and I collect words from them that I don’t understand.  I practice verbs a lot because these cause the most errors.  I use dictionaries a lot and I use the Internet to find what words mean.

What should I do to increase my vocabulary in English?

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