Interesting article and podcast about vocabulary

Hi, I listened to this story on the radio today and immediately thought about some of the essays I have read over the years: … flashcards

The point is that the dictionary definition or the synonyms for a word do not always tell you exactly where it will sound natural and where it won’t. For instance, esoteric is a synonym for obscure, but just because obscure will work in a sentence does not mean that you can use esoteric instead. “The professor taught in a small, obscure college far from the bustle of the city.” is good. “The professor taught in a small, esoteric college far from the bustle of the city.” is not.

I often find TOEFL essayists including a “fancy” word where it sounds a little odd and a simpler word is more natural. Unfortunately, the article does not give too much advice on increasing one’s vocabulary - I think there is no shortcut around reading as much as you can, paying close attention to new or unfamiliar words.

TOEFL listening lectures: Which characteristic of Ireland does the professor utilize in his lecture?

Yes, I agree with you. I’ve tried to write an essay with many fancy words, but what I received back from you was a low score. After that, I tried to write a simple yet comprehensive essay, and my score increased.