Building a Better Vocabulary : The Great Courses: Linguistics

  • by The Great Courses
  • Narrated by Professor Kevin Flanigan
  • Series: The Great Courses: Linguistics
  • 18 hrs and 48 mins
  • Lecture

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.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Simply amazing. Also, bad reviews can be explained.

Any additional comments?

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.

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.

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- Christie

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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- Pru

Book Details

  • Release Date: 02-05-2015
  • Publisher: The Great Courses