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Building a Better Vocabulary

Narrated by: Kevin Flanigan
Length: 18 hrs and 48 mins
5 out of 5 stars (31 ratings)

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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.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2015 The Great Courses (P)2015 The Teaching Company, LLC

What members say

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educational entertainment overview

the narrator great writer and educator ductless extremely entertaining and educational. I liked every part of it. Highly recommended to anyone that is a teacher or anyone that wants to improve your vocabulary.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Build your vocabulary. Highly recommended !

Long hours but totally worth it. Plenty of activities and tips to improve your vocabulary step by step. The lecturer spends quality time to explain in depth the why and how. You will not.get bored and learn a lot. Guaranteed. #Audible1

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Excellent and engaging book

Highly recommend the book to everyone who have an interest in learning new vocabulary it adds a new perspective to learning, retaining, and using new vocabulary.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Amazing book on vocabulary

after listening to this audiobook i have a much greater appreciation of the english language and i am more confident in piecing together the meaning of words i haven't heard before. #Audible1

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Excellent!

Do not hesitate to invest in this audio. Entertaining. Full of insight. Well researched. Worth every penny.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Kevin is definitely perspicacious and entertaining

Kevin is definitely perspicacious and entertaining! I learned as well as laughed! I highly recommend.

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A Dad's Course of Vocab Building

From fifteen minutes a day, I feel like I'm truly improving on my vocabulary, enough to even look up new words on my own and put them in my vocabulary notebook. You are constantly urged to make connections with these words based on real life experiences, and that's where the title of my review comes from. Kevin consistently tells anecdotes of his past that bring you into his pg 13 life of dad jokes. #Audible1

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  • Christie
  • 2015-09-29

Simply amazing. Also, bad reviews can be explained.

Any additional comments?

---MY REVIEW---
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.

----NEGATIVE REVIEWS----
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.

910 of 918 people found this review helpful

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  • Lizz
  • 2015-05-04

Can't say enough good things about this one...

This is a great title to have in your audible library because it is so versatile in terms of how it can be enjoyed...allow me to explain...

Some books tell a story or survey a topic in such a way that you really need to be paying attention from start to finish because if you don't, you'll struggle to keep up and that'll have a negative impact on your ability to enjoy it. Those are the kinds of titles I save for long car trips when I'm by myself. This course could easily be enjoyed if given that level of attention, but it's not at all necessary.

This is my favorite kind of background noise (for lack of a better term). you can have it playing...come in-and-out of different stages of paying attention and still occasionally pick up a thing or two for your vocabulary. Because of that, you could play the course over and over again without feeling like its getting old or repetitive.

I love playing this title when I'm winding down for the night. If I fall asleep, no big deal. It's way better than watching tv in bed.

But it's also perfect for the person who wants to make a deliberate study of the course. The instructor starts off by discussing how to set up a study notebook for the course and he stops along the way to point out things to write in your notebook and he even assigns homework. If you want to get a real course out of this title you won't be disappointed.

It's the best vocabulary book I've ever read. It's way better than the ones that go in alphabetical order or use SAT prep lists. This instructor groups the vocabulary words by concept and uses techniques that help you actually remember/retain the information.

I highly recommend.

281 of 286 people found this review helpful

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  • christina
  • 2015-08-30

This is the vocabulary builder you want.

I purchased this course as preparation for taking the Miller Analogies Test, Not only was it helpful, but Professor Flanigan made the course absolutely delightful. Great personal stories and excellent neumonic devices. I am looking forward to listening to it several more times.

35 of 35 people found this review helpful

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  • Pru
  • 2015-03-06

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.

309 of 317 people found this review helpful

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  • Maria R.
  • 2017-12-28

PDF available. Instructions to get below

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Great way to learn the roots of words. My mother studied Latin in school so was taught these basic word roots, which is where so many of our vocabulary comes from today. Sadly in my school days in the 70/80s we were not taught them.

To obtain the PDF tape script of this and the word list please do this.
Log in on website ( not via the app, but you can still do on your smartphone, just open web browser ) click on your libuary and look for this title. You will see PDF which if you click on it will bring the whole 290 pages up! I plan to print just the glossary at the back.

How do I know this?
I was concerned before I bought book on reading some reviews saying they wish the narrator had spelled out the words. It is difficult to catch the word sometimes on audio to look up yourself. One reviewer mentioned a PDF but I was unable to locate it. I just rand Audible up and asked and was told the above. I suggest to the operator that they put this important information on the main description of this book. ( she seemed uninterested in my suggestion though, not her job description I guess!)
I plan on looking over the words of each chapter before I listen so I canciduluze the word and sole fling.

What did you like best about this story?

Interesting antidotes kept me entertained on what could have been an otherwise boring subject.

What about Professor Kevin Flanigan’s performance did you like?

Personality. Personal stories.

Any additional comments?

Get the PDF. ( see my review).

19 of 19 people found this review helpful

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  • Jes
  • 2016-12-22

When I went to school they didn't teach this

I went to school in the late 70's through the 90's. Someone in the state of Indiana decided that between 1980 and 1985 they wouldn't teach phonetics therefore I struggle with sounding out worlds. Not after listening to this book! Yes, it's long and yes most of the words seem out of place. YET! The underlying knowledge has finally enabled me to understand words, pronounce them. and to be able to build on them! Well worth the money in all area's!

36 of 37 people found this review helpful

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  • Gaurav
  • 2015-04-26

Better than any GRE vocabulary guide

I learnt more words in 30 days than in a lifetime. Highly recommended for those who have hard time with words..

52 of 55 people found this review helpful

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  • Michael
  • 2015-05-21

Awesome Vocab Builder!

If you could sum up Building a Better Vocabulary in three words, what would they be?

This guy rocks!

What did you like best about this story?

I liked his stories relating words to everyday things and situations, and being that he is a military brat is also a plus.

What does Professor Kevin Flanigan bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

His character and telling of his personal life events made it fun.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Listen up maggots, time to learn some words!

Any additional comments?

I enjoyed the hell out of this.

24 of 26 people found this review helpful

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  • colleen
  • 2015-05-01

Excellent

Nerd Alert! Very well written and narrated. Terrific concepts and strategies on improving and remembering vocabulary.

61 of 69 people found this review helpful

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  • Publicagent
  • 2016-09-10

Promethean Vocabulary Course

This course really stands out. It absolutely crushes any other vocabulary learning text or audio book that I have seen. I actually purchased a couple of books and tried a couple of other audio books after finishing this course but they do not compare. It seems that many the books are for people with weak vocabularies, and most of the audio books are too dry. This book is for everybody.

The professor focuses on words that are compelling, yet that most educated people do not know or use. If you are not an expert in vocabulary, which you probably aren't if you are considering this course, then he will impress you with words like captious, treacle, argot, donnybrook, bumptious, malefactor you get the idea. He introduces words with stories, uses them in sentences (of course), and very importantly, explains nuances and differences between related words.

I will definitely be listening to this course again. It's fun to learn new words and impress one's spouse, especially when she has the better vocabulary. Almost every day I would concoct some new sentence trying to show off and it was painfully obvious, but it was fun, and it really helps to learn the words. I only wish that I written them down like he suggested.

Great couple of units on foreign words at the end.

18 of 20 people found this review helpful