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Let’s activate some of your passive vocab!

As you go through your day, try to remember at least 10 words that start with a particular letter, say “a”. The words can be nouns, verbs, adjectives or adverbs.

To make it more interesting, you may increase the number of words up to 20-30 and write (or record) sentences with them explaining why or how they came into your mind (i.e. what was the connection with you – with your surroundings, your feelings or thoughts?). Or you can even put all the words into one story!

I tried this on myself in French. At first I was at a complete loss – wherever I looked, I couldn’t find my words. My mind was empty. Funnily, the words that first popped into my mind were German and Spanish. As I was surveying my flat I also found out that I don’t know the French for many everyday objects… But that’s for another task.

Then the French words started coming to my mind but they seemed to have very little connection with me. For example, as I was looking at my cat, I remembered ‘aboyer’ (‘to bark’). Then in the kitchen ‘l’aventure’ (‘adventure’) came to mind. And then, as if some barrier was broken, I knew 10 more words in 2 minutes. By the evening I was in French up to my ears =)

Why do I think it’s useful?

  • As you look around or listen to yourself, you’ll have to switch into English, even if only partly and just naming objects/ thoughts/ feelings. So it’s one of the ways to start thinking in English
  • You activate a fast network of words as you filter them for the ones you need. You may not notice it because it happens very quickly, but it does take place.
  • You can suddenly remember difficult words that you know but don’t use (a little bit like with crosswords). For example, I thought of ‘adorn’ (= ‘decorate’), an English word I’ve never used. It was probably prompted by some photos I saw on vk.
  • You’ll start comparing English with other languages. E.g. I kept thinking of ‘der Apfel’ (‘an apple’), but in French it’s ‘la pomme’. But ‘l’acide’ is the same as ‘acid’.
  • It may highlight how well you can (or can’t) name what is part of your day.

If you’ve got stuck, try adding the next letter – ‘ab…’, ‘ac…’, ‘ad…’

Share your ‘a’ words in the comments, if you like. Together we could come up with a most interesting collection, I’m sure)

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