How to use your dictionary to build your vocabulary Improve your vocabulary and really understand what you learn by simply using a paper dictionary. You will learn how to pronounce words, what their function is, how to modify them, and much more. You don't need me to spell it out for you… start improving your English vocabulary now! Watch the lesson, then take the quiz here:

The Canadian-English Dictionary. Over 500 sold. Not many Canadians, I think, eh? Just joking. It's 500,000, and my name is James from EngVid. Welcome. I'm going to help you today learn to use this thing and not this thing. And there's a reason why, and I'm going to tell you why today because I think it's an important lesson that I don't see people really talk about a lot. They — in classes, and I teach classes, we mention it. And students always come — not always. Bad. You're so forward. They usually use an electronic dictionary, but I prefer the paper because today I'm going to teach you how to build your vocabulary using this, something that's a few hundred years old.

So let's start off: "Know your dictionary." Do you know what your dictionary — do you know who your dictionary is or what your dictionary is? I ask you because I'm going to ask you do you know "prescriptive" versus "descriptive"? Most students don't know the difference, and it's a very important difference for you to know. If you're a native English speaker, this is your dictionary. It's good. It's great. It says things like, "'Choral' — or of a choir. 'Chorale': slow stately hymn tune", and you're thinking, well, if you're learning English, "What did James just say to me?" There are many of these things. "'Retrench': reduce expenditure, cut." You know, like, "What?" Well, this is because it's prescriptive. "Prescriptive". Think of a doctor, you know, the guy who checks your chest, like, your heart. He prescribed something to you, right? Gives you something. But he doesn't give you any kind of extra information. He's the doctor. He's the expert. They tell you and you know. Well, if you have a command of the English language or you speak English, of course you know all the other words they use. "'Critic': Professional judge." I know all these words. I don't have to learn these words, so it's great. But if you're learning English — and learning English — and I want to tell you this because a lot of people don't know. You know my name, right? My name is James ESL, right? James. I can't even spell my own name. It's a lie. My name is James ESL. And some of you said, for sure, "What is "ESL? That's a funny name." Because it's not my name. "ESL" stands for "English as a Second Language". That's what it stands for. Many of your teachers use it, and they never tell you what it means. So it means James is teaching English as a second language. And that's for you guys. You have French, Hindi, Arabic as first languages, and you want to get another language. What you need is a descriptive dictionary. What does that mean? Well, let me explain something to you. There is a thing that is long, has a big head, a smile. It has little lines on its body. Its first name starts with M. His last name starts with E. Do you know whom I'm describing? It's Mr. E. Right? I described it to you. An ESL dictionary is descriptive, right? So the first thing you should know is, is your dictionary prescriptive or descriptive? "Prescriptive", like a prescription from a doctor — it just tells you this is what the word means. It does not give explanation — it gives an explanation, but no diagrams and no definition, okay? Or explanation. For example, a descriptive one not only tells you what the world is, it gives you an example of its use in speech. It helps you. Maybe even a picture to show you. That's for the ESL. So when you're looking for a paper dictionary, go to your bookstore and ask for a descriptive dictionary because you're studying ESL, and they'll give you the perfect dictionary for you, okay?

So what are we going to do next? That's the first thing: Know what dictionary you have because this one will help. Now, I will tell you this, though: Once you start going from the beginning and intermediate, you need the prescriptive because that's what a fluent native speaker would use, and that's what you use. So there's a reason for both. Don't forget that. If you're advanced, get prescriptive. If you're new, get descriptive. Know your dictionary.

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