} HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR VOCABULARY
} 1. Get a dictionary.
} You can go over to your local Buns & Noodle and get a
} brand-new shiny Webster's dictionary, but I'll let you in on a secret:
} the English language has not changed much in the past 100 years, and a
} dictionary from 1940 will suit you just fine (granted, it may not
} mention that "uranium" is radioactive, but when was the last time you
} found big jars labeled "uranium" just lying around?). Because of
} this, I recommend you find a nice used bookstore and get an old used
} dictionary for a significant discount.
} Now, we need structured method for transferring the knowledge
} stored in the dictionary into your head. You could just start reading
} the dictionary from "A" onward, but that would get boring quickly, and
} you don't really need to know what "absinthe" is. Ideally, we want a
} method that is helpful (so that you can use the new words you learn),
} and that is enjoyable (so that you can stick with it). This leads us
} 2. Get some reading material that you want to read *and* which is
} just a little above your reading level.
} If you get something too easy to read, like "The Very Hungry
} Caterpillar," you won't see any new words, and you won't need to look
} these words up in the dictionary. On the other hand, if you get
} "Chaos: The Making of a New Science" by James Gleick, you'll be
} overwhelmed with new words, and you'll be too discouraged to continue.
} So get something in between, like "Isle of View" by Piers Anthony, or
} even a nice Donald Duck comic book, if "Isle of View" is too difficult
} or boring.
} 3. Read the reading material, and look up the words you don't
} It's deviously simple. Suppose you're reading something, and
} suppose you care about what you're reading, and then you see a word
} you don't understand. You look it up, re-read the sentence, and it
} makes sense, and you move on. Easy! Soon, you've read the entire
} piece, and maybe you have filled your world with an aspect of wonder
} and whimsy that you never knew before; but also, you have learned some
} new words.
} 4. Go to step 2. and repeat until your vocabulary is smart enough
} for you.
} It sounds boring, doesn't it? I mean, you're looking at this
} e-mail, and you think: "Why would I want to do this forever and ever?
} What's the point?" And that's the second deviously simple part of
} this plan: it's *fun*. You'll start reading a book like "Hearts In
} Atlantis" by Stephen King, and someone will offer you free donuts or
} something, and you'll be *so involved* in reading the part about the
} little boy and the 3-card Monte scam artist, that you'll *put off* the
} reward of delicious donuts for the opportunity to finish that exciting
} part of the story. You'll find yourself sitting in a chair for hours
} and hours, just reading. You'll miss your bus stop because you were
} so excited about what was happening in the story!
} Helpful Hints:
} 5. Don't watch TV.
} TV is a thief of time. It's like a drug that slowly makes you
} stupid. Instead of watching TV for an hour, go to a nice quiet room
} (use earplugs if necessary, they are available for cheap at any gun
} range) and read something for an hour.
} 6. Make a movie in your mind.
} When you read a book, imagine you're directing a movie in your
} mind. If the book has a character who is a nice old, grandfatherly
} guy, imagine Wilford Brimley is that character. If the guy is from
} Eastern Europe, imagine it's Bela Lugosi -- even though the real Bela
} Lugosi is actually dead, you can imagine him saying the words and
} doing the things the character in the book is saying and doing. You
} pick the actors! You design the sets! Then the whole thing can "come
} alive" in your mind.
} You owe the Oracle a good book.