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

Most Helpful

By Christie on 09-29-15

Simply amazing. Also, bad reviews can be explained.

Any additional comments?

---MY REVIEW---<br/>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. <br/><br/>The course itself is helpful, and I really loved all his anecdotal stories that allowed me to learn in an interesting way. <br/><br/>----NEGATIVE REVIEWS----<br/>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. <br/>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). <br/><br/>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. <br/>

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330 of 335 people found this review helpful


By Pru on 03-06-15

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.

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187 of 192 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Mark on 08-22-15

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. <br/><br/>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. <br/><br/>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.

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10 of 10 people found this review helpful


By Matthew A. Vaughan on 05-18-16

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.

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6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Mia on 02-07-16

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.

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9 of 13 people found this review helpful

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