How to Build Your Vocabulary

While Reading, and Without Retyping Words

And How to Master SAT Vocabulary Lists

(and Other Lists of Words)

With Interactive Computer-Voice and Text

This is part of Step 3 of our Free Reading Improvement Course

Get live, 1-on-1 help with your reading, as needed, Anywhere in the world


Proper Technique When Reading

Note: This is for Mac desktops and laptops, where you are building a vocabulary list as you look up words. PC operation is similar.

  1. 1.Create (or open up) your vocabulary file, and then position it just outside the main document you are reading, so the two files overlap, so you can easily click back and forth between the two documents. For example, the vocabulary file should go just a little further to the left than the main document, and the main document should be higher, and/or go farther to the right than the vocabulary file.

  2. 2.When you come to a word you do not know in the main document, double click on the word to highlight it, and then copy it. If you want to look up a phrase of two or more words, select the phrase before copying it.

  3. 3.Click on the Vocabulary file and go to the bottom of the file if you are not there already.

  4. 4.Paste in the entry word or phrase after a blank line.

  5. 5.Press down the control key and then click your mouse on the word. You will be asked if you want to look up the definition of that word. Select this option and click on it. Look the definition up on the Web if necessary.

  6. 6.Select and copy the definition, not including the base word, (which you have already pasted in). Include the pronunciation.

  7. 7.Paste in the definition on a blank line after the entry word.

  8. 8.Add two blank spaces at the end (ready for the next word).

  9. 9. Format the entry now or later: make sure the entry word is in black type (change the color to black if necessary); make sure the entry word is by itself on a line; make sure the entry is 18 point or thereabouts in font size; make sure it is bolded (just the entry, not the definition).

  10. 10. Have the definition read out loud, if desired.

  11. 11. If you do not know what a word in the definition says, look up that word on the vocabulary list (after you have pasted in the original definition).

  12. 12. Then add the new definition to the vocabulary list just below. Have that second definition read out loud as well, if necessary.

  13. 13. Continue this procedure until you understand all the words in the original definition.

  14. 14. Click back on the main document when you are ready to continue reading. Make sure you understand how the new definition clarifies the text you were reading.

  15. 15. Do not stop VoiceOver if you are using it to read the main text. You do not need to stop VO to keep your place in the main text. If you do loose your place and end up at the start of the document, just press VO+F and enter the word you just looked up and click on return. You should go right back to where you were, with VoiceOver on.

Proper Attitude

  1. 1.Find the meaning that is just right for the text in the main document.

  2. 2.Allow yourself to be amazed at how the right definition makes the main reading make a lot more sense, like the missing piece in a otherwise complete jigsaw puzzle. Begin to enjoy the thrill of looking up words to have text mean a lot more. Experience the ongoing joy of becoming a lifelong vocabulary builder as you read.

  3. 3.Each time you read, add words to your vocabulary list. Try to add at least ten words a day. This becomes 300 a month, and 3,600 a year, and over 10,000 every three years.

  4. 4.Review the words on this list at least five times. After awhile you can start further and further down the list.

  5. 5.In reviewing definitions, try to focus on the key word in the definition that defines the word you are looking up. The key word is usually at the beginning of the definition and is followed by modifiers of different type.

  6. 6.Make sure you can pronounce the word correctly out loud, and do so. Most people do not use words that they do not feel they can pronounce correctly out loud.

  7. 7.Also, take time to see the many ways the basic definition can be used with related meanings. This is a very easy way to greatly increase your use of basic concepts.

  8. 8.Practice using your new vocabulary words in your own speech, and writing, and reading. Very quickly you will become a much better reader, writer, speaker, listener, and thinker, and experience a great deal of joy in the process.

Note for iOS Devices: A similar approach can be used for iOS devices to just look up words. Touch a word on the screen and one of the choices that will come up is to get the definition. Choose to get the definition from the Web if necessary. As there is no true multi-tasking, building a vocabulary list by copy and paste takes much to much time to be practical on iOS devices. However, you can write down the words to input later in Pages, on your iOS device, or Mac Laptop, or Desktop. As you read, you can also record these words using a tape recorder or speech app.

Mastering SAT Vocabulary Lists (and Other Word Lists)

(The key to this vocabulary approach is using interactive voice and text.)

  1. 1.Make or copy a list of vocabulary words with their definitions. Add definitions if they are not present. Make sure the entry name is bold and the definition is just below, followed by a blank line. Free SAT word lists with their definitions can be readily found on the Internet. Save entry words in large font. Fifty words at a time, per list, is a good weekly amount. You an easily learn 1,000 key Sat words in 20 weeks with this approach.

  2. 2.Center justify this list if you wish. You can make this list on any word processor.

  3. 3.Copy and paste your list into a new TextEdit file and Save it as a .html file.

  4. 4.Open up the .html file and read it with interactive voice (called VoiceOver by Apple). Use a keyboard and reduce the vertical size of the window. Start by reading a line at a time, manually, with new text appearing at the bottom of the page. Try to say the definition, before you press the forward arrow key to see the definition and hear it read out loud.

  5. 5.Review this list at least twice each day for a week.

  6. 6.After you have gone through the list manually at least twice, go though the list automatically.

  7. 7.Try going through the list with your eyes shut and picture each word and definition as you hear them.

  8. 8.Look up the full definition of any word at any time, using the techniques described in the first section above (called Proper Technique).

  9. 9.Use all the tips listed in the Proper Attitude section above. It is especially important to use these new words in your own speech and writing and thinking.

Note: Any teacher or professor can make up a properly formatted list words and definitions, as per directions above, and put this document in a Dropbox folder, shared with all the students in his or her class, who can then learn this vocabulary with interactive voice and text on their iOS devices, Mac laptops, or Mac desktops, on-line or off-line, wherever they are, using earphones or speakers.

Written by John F. Adams

Proportional Reading

(978) 927-9234

Adjustable Neck Strap (Lanyard) for Your iPhone or iPhone Case, or Any Other Smartphone or Case



iPad/Book Chair Stand for “Hands Free” Reading

You can not read well if you are in pain or discomfort.