Intensive Reading: Grow Your Active Vocabulary by 500%

You can increase your active vocabulary 5 times just by doing so-called “intensive reading“.

Before we dive in, you need to understand something. We don’t believe in “done-for-you” English courses that promise fluent English without any work. You cannot pick up English just by listening and not doing anything else.

We’re happy to guide you on your English learning journey and show you practical methods and exercises.

Intensive reading is one of the least talked about and least understood way of practicing English but it’s incredibly powerful. I learned almost every single language I know this way (in large part). For example, a few years ago I was badly in need of Italian and I had to learn it in a few weeks to an acceptable, conversational level.

I did intensive reading exercises for 20 minutes every day and in a month, I achieved a pre-intermediate level where I could already enjoy simple conversations. I’m not saying you’ll achieve the same results but I firmly believe it’s one of the best things you can do when it comes to mastering a language.

The main purpose of intensive reading is to observe a short passage of text very thoroughly and understand how the foreign language works.

Every language has its own logic, its own way of looking at the world. Most English words and expressions are used differently from words of your own language because English and American people have a different mentality and culture.

Through intensive reading, you can observe it and by noticing these differences, you can easily expand your active vocabulary by bounds and leaps.

Here’s a short example paragraph from a BBC article. Please note that intensive reading is much more than just simply understanding a text. If you find here any phrase that you wouldn’t use in a conversation, then it means you need to make it part of your active vocabulary. Take a look at this snippet, which is about stealing ideas at a workplace:

“Out of nowhere, you’re struck with a brilliant idea and you share it. However, there’s a long, dismissive pause at the meeting. Then the chaos returns.

A week later, your boss presents the exact same idea. As the group celebrates her stroke of genius, she seems genuinely proud. You spend the rest of the meeting thinking up 50 different ways to out her as a fraud.”

To be precise, I had 17 observations about the language used in the text. Now I’ll share just one to show you what I mean by observing a text.

Did you notice the word “dismissive”? “Dismissive” comes from the verb “to dismiss”. You can make the following observations about this one word:

1, An idea can be dismissed. It’s a nice way of saying that it’s not considered seriously. Would you use this phrase the same way as it appeared in the text? Is it in your active vocabulary?

You could say, for example in a real-life conversation: My idea was dismissed by my boss. I felt so upset.

You can also see from the context that being dismissed can be an unpleasant, embarrassing feeling, just like an awkward pause in the middle of a conversation.

2, You can also observe the following English phrase: dismissive pause, which means that an idea or person is not considered seriously and it’s signalled with a pause. You can say, for example: there was a dismissive pause at the meeting. No-one really liked the idea.

This way you can see an Anglo-Saxon communicational strategy: disliked ideas are sometimes simply not responded to. They are dismissed.

Would you think of “dismiss” or “dismissive” on your own in an actual conversation?

Intensive reading is different than just reading for fun. It’s about observing the language. Reading for fun doesn’t really improve your active vocabulary (just very slowly), while intensive reading can do wonders in a relatively short timeframe.

However, intensive reading is a forgotten art that few teachers and courses apply. 

In the Metaphor English Mastery System you can learn how to observe English. The explanations are not only for understanding specific phrases. They are strategically designed to help you notice and observe the way language works so you can apply it on your own.

In the Metaphor Mastery System we’ll teach you the lost art of intensive reading and fill you in on all the practical details. If you’re interested, purchase our e-book and you’ll get the first month for free:

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