Saturday, February 28, 2009

Synonyms, antonyms and context

Thus far, we have seen a few strategies to increase our vocabulary. Another section to include in your vocabulary book or journal is synonyms, antonyms and context. Usually, whenever a student comes across a new word, they are encouraged to write down the meaning of the word. I would say that you should go beyond that. The definition of a word is only the BEGINNING level of understanding. To FULLY understand and internalize word meanings and be able to use words correctly IN CONTEXT, Learn SYNONYMS for the new words, learn ANTONYMS,and the diffferent ways the word is used.

Friday, February 27, 2009


Another section to include is 'Useful Lists'. Copy a list of common proverbs and their meanings in this section. This list comes in useful when you are writing an essay and you can spice up your essay with an appropriate proverb.

For example: As the saying goes, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Therefore, it is important that a student takes time out to relax and enjoy.

Some common proverbs can be downloaded from

Thursday, February 26, 2009


Hello everyone! I just want to thank everyone who has been visiting and following this blog. I noticed that the number of hits is almost close to 100 a day. I would appreciate it if visitors could sign my guestbook or give comments to help me improve this site.
Now, back to keeping a vocabulary notebook. I hope you have bought your new vocab book.

The next section to create in your notebook is collocations. Collocations refer to words that go together.
An example of a verb + noun collocation is:

Can you keep an eye on my bag while I buy something?

Now, try to complete the blanks below:

If you _______ a mistake, just erase it off.
You should _______ a chance and _____ for his help.
He ______ his temper easily when he is tired.
He should ____ more attention to his children at home.

Next, how many collocations can you list for the following verbs:

make, have, take


make amends
make an application

have an argument

take action

You can add to the list by searching online. This list of collocations are important when answering the cloze test in the exam as well as when writing your essays.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Improving your vocabulary with vocabulary trees

Starting this week, I will be doing a series on how to improve your vocabulary. The first thing you need to do is to get your vocabulary book done. Buy any notebook but I would prefer to get one with a hardcover as it would last longer. It should be handy to carry around with you. This notebook will be your buddy for the rest of your academic year.

The next thing that you should do is to divide the vocabulary book into a few sections. I will be introducing the various sections of your vocabulary book as we go along, so make sure you come back to check it out. The first section will be called Vocabulary Trees. Some may prefer to call it Mind-maps.

Draw the word 'school' in the middle of the page. Draw branches out of the word 'school' and list down words that come to your mind as you think about school.

Vocabulary trees help students remember words thematically. These words will be more useful to you than individual words and their meanings. If you just keep a list of words and their meanings, 50% of these words are usually not used at all.

Now, do a vocabulary tree for the following themes
(a) vehicles
(b) Cameron Highlands
(c) Examinations
(d) Computers

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Joining English Society

Many students shy away from joining the English Society in school because they feel that their English is not 'powerful' enough. I always encourage my students who are in my class to be a member by making those whom I teach as automatic members. So, if I teach 5 classes of English, nearly 100 over students are members. Whenever we organise any activity, we open it to other students too.
Last Saturday, we had a fun day with DZ's race. It's something like the Amazing Race. Students are given a set of instructions and they have to run around the whole school to complete the tasks.
When you take part in such activities, you are unconsciously learning English. There are many other interesting activities which are organized by teachers.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


In the SPM ENGLISH 1119, you are required to answer a stuctured question on one poem. You will be tested on your understanding of the poem and you are also required to give your opinion to issues raised. One way to prepare for the exam for poems is to paraphrase the poem, making sure you understand all the difficult words.
I found a useful paraphrase while surfing and I would like to share it with teachers and students alike.

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Shall I compare you to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
You are more lovely and more delightful:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
Rough winds shake the much loved buds of May
And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
And summer is far too short:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
At times the sun is too hot,
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd; Or often goes behind the clouds;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
And everything that is beautiful will lose its beauty,
By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd;
By chance or by nature's planned out course;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
But your youth shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor lose the beauty that you possess;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
Nor will death claim you for his
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:
Because in my eternal verse you will forever:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long as there are people on this
So long lives this and this gives life to thee.
So long will this poem live
on, giving you immortality.

[Line 9]* - The friend's 'summer' or 'prime of life' will remain eternal because the poet immortalizes him in verse. Lines 10-14 confirm this reading. For more on this theme, see sonnet 55.

[Line 12]* - Because of the poet's verse the friend will actually grow as one with time ("to time thou growest"). For similar imagery, see sonnet 15, line 14.

Sonnet 18 is perhaps the best known and most well-loved of all 154 poems. It is also one of the most straightforward in language and intent. The stability of love and its power to immortalize the poetry and the subject of that poetry is the theme. The poet starts the praise of his dear friend without ostentation, but he slowly builds the image of his friend into that of a perfect being. His friend is first compared to summer in the octave, but, at the start of the third quatrain (9), he is summer, and thus, he has metamorphosed into the standard by which true beauty can and should be judged. The poet's only answer to such profound joy and beauty is to ensure that his friend be forever in human memory, saved from the ultimate oblivion that accompanies death. He achieves this through his verse, believing that, as history writes itself, his friend will become one with time (or, more informally, keep up to time). The couplet reaffirms the poet's hope that as long as there is breath in mankind, his poetry too will live on, and ensure the immortality of his muse.

Mabillard, Amanda. An Analysis of Shakespeare's Sonnet 18. Shakespeare Online. 2000. (day/month/year you accessed the information) < >.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...