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by Abigail Van Buren

College Graduate Seeks Ways To Boost English Vocabulary

DEAR ABBY: I am a 26-year-old college graduate. I immigrated here in 2001, so English is my second language. I have no accent, and I have been doing well in my life overall, except I score low on reading and written communication when I take exams.

I'm intelligent and a quick learner, but my vocabulary is kind of limited, and it makes me feel stupid, especially when I don't score well on exams. I try to read, but I don't always have the time. Do you have ideas on how I can improve my vocabulary or do better on exams? -- SMART BUT FEELS STUPID

DEAR SMART: I know someone who, like you, immigrated to the United States in her early 20s after having spent her first 17 years in Russia. From there she went to Italy, where she learned to speak Italian. From there she came to the U.S.

When I asked her how she learned English, she told me it was by watching American television. If there was a word she didn't understand, she would look it up in a dictionary. Not only can this be fun, I have heard others say that's the way they learned English, too.

She also read books in English with a dictionary by her side. Audiobooks could be helpful, too. An adult education class might help you not only improve your vocabulary, but also help you sharpen your written English skills. Please consider it.

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