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Vocabulary, Spring 2010: English Communication for Sophomores

Instructor: Mr. Michael Krigline, MA

 Kunming Medical University

Click "refresh" in your browser to be sure that you load the most recent version of this page; I will probably revise it after I create the exam.

Blue shows the one-word synonyms; you should know how to spell both terms.

Words or sections marked with an equal sign (=) are the "most important."

Most of the “most important” words will be on the exam. A few of the other terms may be on the test too.


Improving Your Study Methods

=(On the exam, I may also ask you about the content of this handout. In particular, be very familiar with “the five R’s” and with section V on “Dealing with School Frustrations.”)

=significance: importance

=to indicate: to show or point to

complementary: related to sth even though they are different

the flow of sth: a steady forward movement, especially in relation to the way ideas build on each other during a speech, lecture, book, etc.

=passively: not actively; without being involved or interested (She listened passively, without thinking about what she heard.)

=the big picture: an overall, general view of things; a situation viewed from an outside, general perspective

reminders: things that help you remember (e.g., remember a major point, a date, an event, or a place)

=transcript: an exact word-for-word written copy of a speech, play, TV show script, etc.

verbatim: word-for-word without leaving anything out or changing anything (“The press printed verbatim his speech.”)

=abbreviation: (缩写, 缩略词): a short form of a word (etc. for etcetera), title (Dr. for Doctor), name (NBA for National Basketball Association), and so forth

to revise: to change sth in order to make it better or more accurate (in BrE, to revise can also mean “to study sth again” but Americans do not use it this way)

fragment: a piece; an incomplete part of sth

the meat of sth: the most important part or main idea (of a speech, book, movie, etc)

particular: specific or carefully chosen

=to review: (AmE) to look again at something you have studied (British equivalent: revise)

senses: your five natural abilities to see, hear, feel, taste and/or smell

=to compile: to add together; to put information together in one place

to gauge: to judge or measure carefully (a gauge is an instrument or device that shows a measurement, especially in relation to minimum or maximum, such as a fuel gauge in a car)

=prior to: before

=extracurricular: (adj, only before noun) additional activities, clubs, jobs, etc., that students do but that are not part of someone’s studies

to integrate: combine in an effective way

=to analyze: to carefully examine, esp. in terms of something’s relationship with other things

procedure: method; the best way to do something

=pertinent: relevant; directly related

a sitting: one continuous amount of time (i.e., how long you sit without standing up)

interruptions: distractions; things that unexpectedly stop what you are doing

to recite: to say sth out loud from memory, or in order to memorize it (i.e., to know it so well that you can repeat it perfectly)

to cram (for a test): to quickly learn a lot of material so that you can use it on an exam (even though you will probably forget it soon after the exam)

=confident: certain or sure (esp. about your ability to do sth or about the truth of sth that others are not sure about)

=methodically: in a step-by-step way

(leave it) blank: empty; without writing

=to skip sth/sb: to choose not to do something you should do, like attend a class, answer a test question, read an assignment, report for work, or eat a meal

=to panic (panicked, panicking): to react in a strange (not logical or appropriate) way because of fear (Notice the unusual spelling of past/continuous verb forms; “They panicked when they heard rumors, which caused a panic in the community.”)

=essential: necessary; extremely important

=frustrations: things beyond your control that cause you to feel irritated, upset, or frustrated [you feel frustrated when annoyed because you cannot change a situation, understand something you are supposed to do, lack control, etc. (students have given these translations: 憋屈, 惘然, 失意的, 气馁, 灰心, 沮丧, 失望)

to put forth: (1. AmE) to give extra effort in order to accomplish sth; (2. formal) to give, suggest or produce sth


Easter Courtroom Skit

=(You should also know how to spell these key words, and titles like judge and lawyer. The dictation on the final exam will be taken, in part, from the “notes” section of the courtroom handout.)


grave-robbing—stealing a dead body from a grave, sometime done (in the old days) to do medical research or to profit from the personal possessions buried in the grave

=executioner—an official who’s job is to kill condemned prisoners

“the place in question”—legal speech, referring to the place (or time, etc.) at which a crime occurred

=murmur: informal talk among people in a classroom, courtroom, etc., especially after something interesting has been said.

gavel—the special hammer used by a judge

=witness—a person who talks about what he sees or knows, especially in a courtroom setting

=tombgrave--place where a dead body is put

cross-examine the witness—when the prosecution or defense gets the chance to ask questions to a witness who is helping the “other side”

Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?—courtroom speech; this is the oath Americans say before they give testimony in a courtroom. When they say this, they have one hand raised in pledge and the other hand on a Bible.

Jewish—Jews, Hebrews, or Israelites; they would have spoken Hebrew or Aramaic, while the Romans spoke Greek (Greek would have been the language of this trial as well)

Zeus—the most powerful (of many) Greek god

=bluntly—spoken in a matter-of-fact way; not rude, but without politeness or any attempt to be soft or easy on the witness; lawyers use blunt speech to get an honest reaction from witnesses

=rumor—a story or report widely told, but without facts to confirm its truth

resurrection—supernaturally rising from the dead

=disciples—students who strongly believe in the teachings of a leader, philosopher, etc. (such as Confucius or Jesus)

celebritiesfamous people, like politicians or singers

I call so-and-so to the stand—courtroom speech; what an attorney says to start the testimony of a witness

torture—to intentionally give extreme pain or physical punishment to a victim (human or animal)

=crucifixion—a particularly cruel Roman form of torture that started with a severe beating, followed by nailing a man’s hands and feet to a cross on which the victim died (often slowly) due to loss of blood and the inability to breathe

“Sustained”—Courtroom speech that lets the attorneys know the judge agrees with their “objection” to testimony being given

“Objection overruled”--Courtroom speech wherein the judge says he does not agree with an “objection”

Pharisee—a Jewish scholar who strictly obeyed the laws in the Jewish Bible; some Pharisees were also members of the Jewish Governing Council

=hasten—to speed something up

=eclipse—when the moon temporarily blocks the light of the sun, making day look briefly like night

=client—someone being helped by a lawyer, doctor, social worker, or other similar professional

=(Also be sure you understand what "body language" and a "case" is; see the "Notes" on your vocabulary handout)


Finding Forrester (you can also see my study guide for this film)

=Ebonics (or African American Vernacular English) is an American American dialect (地方话; 方言) spoken in many African-American communities.

=Some of the characteristics of this dialect include:

▪ the use of double negatives ("I ain't seen nothing change" instead of "I haven't seen anything change")

▪ omit or neglect to conjugate "to be" ("Why you gonna send him here?" instead of "Why are you going to send him here?" or “he be laughin’ ” instead of “he is laughing”)

▪ drop “l” and “r” (“hep yo-sef” for “help yourself”)

▪ use “d” or “t” instead of “th” (“dis one is wid me” for “this one is with me”)

▪ neglect to show verb tense (“he see us, man” for “he sees us”)


=acceleration: describes sth that gets faster and faster (“The acceleration in your writing is remarkable.”)

=assessment test: a standardized exam that helps a school evaluate a student’s academic ability; the results also help the government evaluate the effectiveness of one school compared to another

BMW: Bavarian Motor Works--a German company, who’s expensive cars are often bought so the owner can show off his/her wealth (Jamal tells Forrester’s arrogant lawyer about the history of BMW)

=boys: “my boys” is a Ebonics (see note 1) term for “my friends”

=cancer: a serious and often deadly illness in which the body’s cells stop acting in a normal way (癌症)

constipated: a medical condition where someone has difficulty getting rid of your body’s solid waste (when Forrester marked up Jamal’s notebook, sometimes he wrote “constipated thinking,” i.e., “this section shows that your ability to think is temporarily blocked”)

=to cuss: to use language that offends some people, especially when you are angry (发出诅咒? 咒骂? 乱骂?). Important: remember that using a particular word will offend some people but not others, depending on their level of education, religious beliefs, race, etc. See note 1.

to dare: when sb (esp. a child) challenges another person to do sth dangerous; in this movie, they also call this “the call” (“I dare you to go up there, into The Window’s place, and bring something back.”)

dog: a term some black men use to address a black, male friend (a bitch is a female dog, and some black women use this to address other black women—but these terms are insulting from non-black people)

foul shots: after a penalty in basketball, this is the chance to get a point by shooting the ball from a certain line, without anyone trying to stop you (also called a “free throw”)

=intrigued: to be interested because sth is strange, mysterious or unexpected

=to kick in: to begin to take effect or start working, even though it was already there (“Jamal’s writing gift really kicked in after he met Forrester.” “It took ten minute for the pain medicine to kick in.”)

=plagiarism/to plagiarize: to use a passage, sentence, outline, or even a group of phrases from the Internet, a book, or any other source, without telling where you “borrowed” from. Plagiarism is a crime (you can be forced to leave school permanently) because it violates the author’s intellectual property rights and gives the cheater an unfair advantage over others

=prep school (preparatory school): (AmE) a private secondary school that prepares academically gifted (or wealthy) students to enter the best universities. (In BrE, a “prep school” is for 6 to 13-year-olds...)

=probation: (AmE) a period of time in which a student or worker must show improvement (in ability) or change (in behavior), without which he will be forced to leave that school or job (“Bear in mind, the school’s Board does have the authority to place those who plagiarize on academic probation, which would prevent you from playing basketball here in the future.”)

=procrastination: delay; waiting to do something because you don’t really want to do it

program: a sports booklet, giving details about the players, teams, etc. (“Hold on, let me get a program.”)

rap: a type of music in which words are generally spoken in a certain rhythm instead of sung

=rumors: things people say based on what someone else said, not necessarily based on the truth (流言?)

=scholarship: (奖学金) when sb pays some/all of the educational expenses for gifted students or athletes


=I may also use some of the discussion questions on the exam:  (key items are 6 and 8)

1. When you were a child, did you and your friends dare each other to do things? Tell your partner about it. If not, tell your partner about a dangerous event in your life.

2. In different contexts, Jamal had to use Ebonics (see note 1) and “standard English.” If you are an English-learner, you speak more than one language, too. When do you speak each language, and why?

3. Do you think it is unfair for Jamal to have to speak “good English” (or for a Chinese person to have to speak “good Mandarin”) to be successful in his country? Or do you think being able to speak your “mother tongue” (母语) ought to be all you need?

4. Describe the “unusual friendships” in this movie. (Jamal and Claire; Jamal and Forrester; are there others?) Then talk about an “unusual friendship” in your own life.

5. Tell your partner about an older person (a relative, neighbor, teacher, etc.) who has helped you in some way.

6. Jamal merely used Forrester’s title and first paragraph, but his teacher and the school’s Board saw this plagiarism as a serious academic “crime.” Did this surprise you? Why or why not? What do you think about the practice of including the words or thoughts of others in your own writing?

7. The serious attitude toward plagiarism shown in this film is very common in countries where English is a native language. If the attitude in your country is different, explain. Also talk about what this attitude means for people who wish to study abroad or work with people from English-speaking countries.

8. The description of this film says Jamal’s unlikely friendship with Forrester helped both to “reach their dreams.” Explain this statement, or say why you don’t agree with it.


Active Teens Remain in the Dark

=“to be in the dark”: to be ignorant of or incorrectly informed about sth

=naivety: simplemindedness; lack of mature judgment or understanding

twenthsomethings: people between age 20 and 30

cohabiting: to live together in a romantic relationship without being married ("living together" is more positive, while "shacking up" is often negative)

=guilt: a feeling of shame/sadness because you did sth wrong

=distorted: inaccurate; bent into the wrong shape

pornography/pornographic: something that shows sex in an explicit (clear and direct) way [public pictures like this are almost always considered “bad” or inappropriate among civilized people]

=pilot (project): first, or trial/experimental; a project (TV show, camp, etc) done for the first time, in the hope that (if successful) it can continue or expand

=the authorities: (notice that this is normally plural) the people who make decisions in any place where people must obey rules (e.g., a city, college, or public area)

=invariably: almost always

=expulsion: forcing someone to leave a school without permission to return

=juveniles: young people, between “child” and “adult” (age 12-18); adolescents

=“commit a crime”: to do something against the law (we do not say “do a crime” or “make a crime”)


Giving advice and problem-solving exercise

=to recycle: to process trash so that the material it is made from can be used again (especially paper, plastic and glass)

=situation: the setting or conditions related to a particular problem, place, event, etc.

=options: choices; other things that could be done in a particular situation

=verbally: spoken rather than written

=to come up with: to creatively think of or find sth (an idea/solution/plan/etc)


=For the final exam, you should also know the six steps of the Problem-Solving Model

1. Define the problem and set the goal

2. Brainstorm any options you might have

3. Evaluate your options

4. Make a plan of action

5. Evaluation how your plan of action is progressing and modify if necessary

6. See if you want to add anything new, and continue to evaluate and modify until the goal is reached.


Education in the USA 

elementary school: the first years of a child’s formal education, traditionally including kindergarten through eighth grade (though some elementary school end with sixth grade), also called grade school, grammar school, or primary school

middle school: in some places, this school educates children in grades seven and eight (and sometimes nine); sometimes also called a junior high school

secondary school: traditionally grades nine through twelve, helping children prepare for college or for a vocation (though some secondary schools are only grades 10-12); most people call this high school

=tuition (BrE: tuition fees): money paid for academic instruction

suburb: the area around the outside of a city (many suburbs are really small cities) where people live, often driving to work in a nearby city

sparse: spread out; not concentrated or dense (“Compared to the cities, the countryside is sparsely populated.”)

=curriculum: all of the subjects taught at an educational institution (considered as a group), or the list/catalog of elements (classes) for a particular subject. The plural form is either curricula or curriculums.

to be home schooled (to home school): to be educated at home, normally by your parents or a tutor (this practice in general is called home schooling)

=liberal arts: academic subjects such as languages, literature, history, philosophy, mathematics, and the sciences

professional schools: academic institutions that prepare advanced students for certain professions, in particular law, business, and medicine)

=community college: an institution offering adult education courses on various subjects, including basic academic classes (similar to first-year university courses), vocational training (nursing, computer tech, engine repair), and hobby-related courses (photography, gardening); also called a technical/vocational school or a junior college. Community colleges can confer an Associate’s Degree, normally after two years of prescribed study.

=room and board: a place to live/sleep and all of your meals; the money you spend (esp. while at college) for your dorm/apartment and food

work-study programs: classes in a particular field (such as engineering), along with paid employment (normally either part-time, during holidays, or every other semester)

=scholarship: when someone pays some of the college expenses for gifted students or athletes (a “full ride” or “full scholarship” means that someone pays ALL of your expenses, including tuition, housing, transportation and food) (奖学金)

assistantship: a paid position that provides reduced tuition or a salary in exchange for teaching or research duties (normally for graduate students—called postgraduates in BrE)

=diploma: an official certificate showing that you successfully completed an academic degree (conferred by a high school, college, graduate school, or professional organization)

=to confer (a degree): to officially give a title, degree, or award in recognition of your achievement

=to prescribe: to require, or to establish regulations; to professionally recommend that a patient buy/use a specific medicine


TV interview vocabulary

wantonly: randomly, without much thought or restraint (esp. sexual behavior)

=“by and large”: “speaking generally”

love affairs: an intense enthusiasm for sth, or a sexual relationship outside of marriage

=to get rid of: to throw sth away (like trash) or otherwise eliminate sth that you do not want

monogamous marriage: marriage to one person (traditionally, for your whole life)

=“a say” (or “to have a say-so”): to have the right to be part of the decision-making process (“Parents have less ‘say’ once their child enters college.”)

“till death do you part”: a phrase from traditional wedding ceremonies, meaning that you promise to remain married to this person until one of you dies

“in sickness and in health”: a phrase from traditional wedding ceremonies, meaning that you promise to care for your spouse (husband/wife) no matter how healthy or unhealthy he/she becomes

=superficial (question): without depth; only general or obvious; “on the surface”

=to wane: to decrease, esp. slowly (like how the moon “wanes” for about two weeks)

=priority: the thing that you think is most important and that needs attention before anything else

=department stores: a large shop like Wal-Mart, that sells many types of goods (clothes, tools, shoes, basic furniture, toys, bikes, kitchen things, etc.); traditionally, a “department store” did not sell much food (you bought food at a grocery store or supermarket)

=supermarket: a very large shop that sells food, drinks, and things that people need regularly in their homes (like cleaning supplies); increasingly, supermarkets have started to sell clothes and other things, but if you say “I’m going to the supermarket” people will think you are going to buy food


=Other important terms

On the exam, I may ask you to give the English name for these punctuation marks. You may also see the important terms below.

apostrophe (example: friends, friend’s)

* asterisk or star

(    )  parenthesis, parentheses

[   ] brackets (AmE)

: colon

; semi-colon

! exclamation point

. period

, comma

/ slash

? question mark

“      ”  quotation marks

‘       ’ single quotation marks

… ellipsis

- hyphen

-- (or –) dash


=vague: (adj) unclear because of a lack of details or because a specific description is not available

=colloquial: (adj) language or words that are informal, and that are usually only used in spoken communication (口语)

=to hand in (or turn in): [vt] to give an assignment to a teacher (or sometimes a boss, official, etc.)

Chinglish: an informal term (it’s not an official word) that refers to an incorrect mixture of the Chinese and English languages; producing Chinglish expressions is a natural part of the process of learning English

=due date: [c] the time or date on which something is expected (especially rent payments, homework assignments, or the birth of a baby); “What are their due dates?” is the same as “When are they due?”

=thesis statement: ONE sentence that must give a clear summary of your main points (for a speech or long academic essay)


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 2010 Michael Krigline. As far as I am concerned, people are allowed to print/copy it for personal or classroom use.

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