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Building a Better Vocabulary Lecture

Building a Better Vocabulary

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Publisher's Summary

What is the difference between specious and spurious? What does the word bombast have to do with cushion stuffing? Would you want to be called a snollygoster?

The hallmark of a powerful vocabulary is not simply knowing many words; rather, it's knowing the exact word to use in a specific context or situation. A great vocabulary can enhance your speaking, writing, and even thinking skills. This course will boost your vocabulary, whether you want to enhance your personal lexicon, write or speak more articulately in professional settings, or advance your knowledge of the English language. For anyone who has ever grasped for the perfect word at a particular moment, this course provides a research-based and enjoyable method for improving your vocabulary.

Building a Better Vocabulary offers an intriguing look at the nuts and bolts of English, teaches you the etymology and morphology - or the history and structure - of words, and delves into the cognitive science behind committing new words to long-term memory. By the end of the 36 enjoyable lectures, you will have a practical framework for continuing to build your vocabulary by discovering new words and fully mastering the nuances of familiar ones.

If you are an avid reader, you may have previously encountered some of the words in this course. But even the most voracious reader will be surprised and delighted by these eye-opening lectures, which delve into the building blocks of the English language and reveal intriguing new nuances to words you thought you knew well. These lectures will kindle a passion for the process by which words are created and for the beauty of the words you read, speak, and hear every day.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2015 The Great Courses (P)2015 The Teaching Company, LLC

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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    Mia 07/02/2016
    Mia 07/02/2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great but...."

    For me I'm a visual learner and wish the words I was learning was spelt out. I'm frantically trying to find the correct spelling in the dictionary while listening but not having much luck. I've only listened to the first chapter so I hope I'm not as frustrated with the following chapters.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
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  • Christie
    29/09/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Simply amazing. Also, bad reviews can be explained."
    Any additional comments?

    ---MY REVIEW---
    I'm a student from Canada. I have to say, Kevin Flanigan is an amazing performer. You can tell how passionate and devoted to he is to the linguistic field just by listening to this book. I feel like he is my friend, rather than a professor.

    The course itself is helpful, and I really loved all his anecdotal stories that allowed me to learn in an interesting way.

    ----NEGATIVE REVIEWS----
    The negative reviews I see here are twofold. First is the kind that says 'learning too much vocabulary makes you seem so arrogant, what's the point omg'...well then don't learn it? It's like buying a history book THEN complaining that learning history is so useless. If you aren't like these silly people and have a strong desire for self-improvement, then I recommend this book.
    The second kind: not the right format. These reviewers either want a bland list of vocab with their definitions (in which case you can find them for free online) or the spelling of the word (which can be found in the PDF ATTACHED yes there is one people).

    So, hope that explains it. This is my first time giving a review and I feel like some reviews just don't do Prof Flanigan justice.

    203 of 205 people found this review helpful
  • Pru
    Sydney, Australia
    6/03/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Engaging and Memorable, Highly Recommended"

    I really enjoyed this course. I have listened to many Great Courses and this is so far one of my favourites. I have also been working on my vocabulary in the past year via other audio courses and workbooks, but this has been the most efficacious.

    The course begins by teaching various memory techniques for retaining new word meanings. This includes keeping a vocabulary notebook, making personal connections, sound connections, etymological breakdown, and categorization. My main problem is recall, and these are not new techniques, but I have been motivated to employ them to much success.

    Lectures are organized by words of a certain category, such as words relating to phobias, words for describing good and bad speakers, words for describing language, toponyms and eponyms, and "grab bags" of miscellaneous words. Professor Flanigan keeps things entertaining by telling the history behind words and memorable personal stories about his friends and family to exemplify key words, ending each lecture with a quiz. He speaks confidently and clearly and is an excellent teacher.

    Immediately after finishing this course, I found myself recognizing key words left and right, words that I previously would have only had a vague contextual understanding of and would have thus brushed past. This has been a real confidence booster.

    The only downside is, as with all The Great Course audiobooks sold by audible, there is no guidebook. This is a complaint I see by many reviewers of The Great Courses, but if you check out the prices on The Teaching Company's (the makers of TGC) the website in which the guidebook is included, you will see that purchasing them via audible without the guidebook is actually a very good deal. The lack of guidebook is probably the reason audible can charge such a low price without it being a negative for The Teaching Company's overall sales. However, it would have been nice for audible or the Great Courses to at least provide a list of the words, as I had to write them down while listening. Ultimately, being forced to write them down was probably a good thing, as taking notes really helped me to remember the words. Although it did get tricky to confirm the spelling, especially with the more obscure words, but I did manage to find them all with a little googling.

    I would also recommend "How To Build a Better Vocabulary" by Maxwell Nurnberg and Morris Rosenblum. I have been working through this in parallel with this course and the words are similar both in selection and difficulty. It's very nice to have learnt a word from one place and have it reinforced elsewhere.

    142 of 145 people found this review helpful
  • Lizz
    4/05/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Can't say enough good things about this one..."

    This is a great title to have in your audible library because it is so versatile in terms of how it can be enjoyed...allow me to explain...

    Some books tell a story or survey a topic in such a way that you really need to be paying attention from start to finish because if you don't, you'll struggle to keep up and that'll have a negative impact on your ability to enjoy it. Those are the kinds of titles I save for long car trips when I'm by myself. This course could easily be enjoyed if given that level of attention, but it's not at all necessary.

    This is my favorite kind of background noise (for lack of a better term). you can have it playing...come in-and-out of different stages of paying attention and still occasionally pick up a thing or two for your vocabulary. Because of that, you could play the course over and over again without feeling like its getting old or repetitive.

    I love playing this title when I'm winding down for the night. If I fall asleep, no big deal. It's way better than watching tv in bed.

    But it's also perfect for the person who wants to make a deliberate study of the course. The instructor starts off by discussing how to set up a study notebook for the course and he stops along the way to point out things to write in your notebook and he even assigns homework. If you want to get a real course out of this title you won't be disappointed.

    It's the best vocabulary book I've ever read. It's way better than the ones that go in alphabetical order or use SAT prep lists. This instructor groups the vocabulary words by concept and uses techniques that help you actually remember/retain the information.

    I highly recommend.

    80 of 83 people found this review helpful
  • christina
    30/08/15
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    Performance
    Story
    "This is the vocabulary builder you want."

    I purchased this course as preparation for taking the Miller Analogies Test, Not only was it helpful, but Professor Flanigan made the course absolutely delightful. Great personal stories and excellent neumonic devices. I am looking forward to listening to it several more times.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • colleen
    ANCHORAGE, AK, United States
    1/05/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Excellent"

    Nerd Alert! Very well written and narrated. Terrific concepts and strategies on improving and remembering vocabulary.

    40 of 44 people found this review helpful
  • Alison Sattler
    16/04/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Highly Engaging and Useful"

    I loved this book for many reasons. The reader/author spoke in an easy, conversational manner that made me feel like I was listening to a story rather than learning how to remember vocabulary words. in fact, he WAS telling stories and holding my interest the entire time.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • James Paris
    Michigan
    13/06/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Very good book!"

    This was a very good course. Professor Flanigan uses humor as well as stories to help us learn new words and meanings to words. I highly recommend this for anyone who wants to learn more about the English language as well as ways to increase their vocabulary.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Jan Wall
    United States
    5/05/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Compelling Word Nerd!"

    Professor Flanigan made this program delightful to listen to. Wether you are a word nerd or not, this is a great program.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Gaurav
    26/04/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Better than any GRE vocabulary guide"

    I learnt more words in 30 days than in a lifetime. Highly recommended for those who have hard time with words..

    23 of 26 people found this review helpful
  • Michael
    21/05/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Awesome Vocab Builder!"
    If you could sum up Building a Better Vocabulary in three words, what would they be?

    This guy rocks!


    What did you like best about this story?

    I liked his stories relating words to everyday things and situations, and being that he is a military brat is also a plus.


    What does Professor Kevin Flanigan bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    His character and telling of his personal life events made it fun.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    Listen up maggots, time to learn some words!


    Any additional comments?

    I enjoyed the hell out of this.

    9 of 11 people found this review helpful
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  • Mark
    22/08/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Delectable, Illuminating and Nonpareil"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Building a Better Vocabulary to be better than the print version?

    Great in-depth 300 page course material which helps make the new words become more like second nature.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Over the past 4-5 years I have purchased over 70 audiobooks from Audible. Build a Better Vocabulary is in my top 3 favorites; I've listened to it twice already and I only purchased it three weeks ago.

    It's great to learn a logical process for growing a better vocabulary. The course uses an organized and entertaining method to deliver exactly what is says on the tin. Other vocab courses I've purchased are bland and unrealistically expect that spelling and repeating a random word, then giving a brief definition, will do the trick.

    Learning many of the Latin and Greek affixes and roots has helped me immensely. Whilst many of the words are just too pretentious to be used in every day life, many are not and many more of the new words are just plain fun to say. Snollygoster lol. However, over and above that, the biggest thing I've gained from the course (coupled with an even stronger love for words) is a structured method for building a better vocabulary. That is, the five step process, using games such as connect two, connecting the new 'dim word' to words that are second nature, having pet words and much much more.


    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Seton
    15/11/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Insightful, trenchantly conveyed and easy to understand"

    I'm glad I bought this book. My vocabulary has improved significantly since I started listening to this brilliant book and I now pay more attention to the words I come across.

    Thank you Professor Flanigan for your erudition and for writing this masterpiece.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Matthew A. Vaughan
    Manchester England
    18/05/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Entertaining and Informative"
    Where does Building a Better Vocabulary rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    It is the only one of its type that I have listened to, and it is therefore the best. It introduces Kevin Flanagan's technique for learning and remembering a large number of words by offering context, etymology and related stories to fix words in a context within your memory. The system works, and into the deal, you get an enjoyable lecture from an interesting and enthusiastic educator.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Building a Better Vocabulary?

    The stories which acted as memory-aids for 3 similar latinate -id adjectives.


    Which scene did you most enjoy?

    Each chapter covers similar groups of words which are similar on what they describe. Ingenious.


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It made me laugh a few times.


    Any additional comments?

    Well worth listening to. Much better than listening to the facile, banal nonsense of the average radio DJ.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Mr. B. J. Leggett
    UK
    15/09/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Useless Archaic Vocabulary = Waste of Life"
    Any additional comments?

    I hoped that the book would expand my vocabulary through the words most educated people would at least vaguely understand. No such luck.

    The author just opened a dictionary, read about the most unused words and charged a lot of money in the process. Absolute rubbish! Ideally I would love a refund. No one will understand a word you say if you start using the words from this book. I did try and test.

    The author himself admits that he mentions some dying out words because some organisation said those words were great.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Om-nom-nom
    12/08/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Dull"
    Would you try another book written by The Great Courses or narrated by Professor Kevin Flanigan?

    As a European I find his pace of speaking very slow. I have tried just speeding up the playback, but it reveals a larger problem with the text- it elaborates excessively with introductions and histories and etymologies, but then races over (often more interesting) synonyms.


    How could the performance have been better?

    The format just feels a bit dated.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Building a Better Vocabulary?

    Less intro. Stop worrying about referencing everyone. Focus on helping the listener to expand their vocabulary in a more engaging and interactive fashion.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • E of the North
    8/08/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Contrary to the one other, one star, review!"

    I have listened to most of this audio book on x1.25 whilst walking the dog, and I have enjoyed the anecdotes, historical links and quirky delivery. Yes it's irritating for the first 20 minutes, but I got used it and, dare I say, enjoyed it.

    I would not listen to lengthy books such as this whilst sitting in an armchair etc. - it's one for on the move.

    I would like a list of the words covered though; so I will email the author.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Georgi Vladkov Petkov
    19/02/16
    Overall
    "An informative book"

    It's been a pleasure to listen to Professor Flanagan, who shed light on my understanding of English.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful

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