Enrich Your Vocabulary

Julie Salgo

I was a teacher of English as a second language in Budapest, Hungary, so I did not have problems conducting myself in America when I arrived, even with my unique accent. I was able to hold good corporate jobs where I had to use verbal and written communication most of the time.

Only after joining Toastmasters, I realized the disservice and the damage I caused for myself by speed-reading thousands of books without stopping and learning the words I did not know. Of course, if certain words were crucial for my understanding of the whole plot, I looked them up in the dictionary, but most often, I only skipped others because I thought they were not important.

The Grammarian role and the Word of the Day inspired me to make an ongoing list with words from my readings that I now intentionally do not want to skip, and thus, I am always prepared to use any of them when I step into the Grammarian role.

I am not ashamed to tell you that by re-reading one of my favorite books now, I found seven words on the first seven pages I had to include in my growing list because I either did not know them or I have never used them.

The best way to enrich your vocabulary is by reading, even in your mother tongue, but learning new words needs your attention and your will to remember and use them correctly.

I find the Word of the Day exercise a smart and useful way to encourage us to learn those words and use them during and beyond our meetings. I appreciate those Grammarians who find challenging words for us. There is a club I attend regularly where you can only be a Table Topic winner if you use the Word of the Day. Many clubs post the word in the chat and/or display it visibly for all.

Let’s not forget that we always have members and visitors who were born in a non-English speaking country, who join Toastmasters because they wish to improve their English in a safe environment. Since English became the most popular language all over the world, we have been meeting more and more Toastmasters on ZOOM who make the best effort to prepare for and make their speeches in English. Let’s help them in the best possible way while gently evaluating their speeches. You probably witnessed several people’s amazing progress with their mastering the English language while assuming leadership roles as well.

Toastmasters are encouraged to demonstrate good eye contact, facial expressions, effective gestures, body language, tone of voice, speed, and volume. In addition, the spoken language still must be clear and easily understood. With proper words and phrases, your message will be GIFTS for your audience they can accept and apply if they so desire. With your properly used verbal and written communication skills practiced in your continuous Toastmasters involvement, you will enrich your personal and professional relationships, too.

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