Dear Abby: College graduate seeks ways to boost English vocabulary
Dear Abby: I am a 26-year-old college graduate. I immigrated here in 2001, so English is my second language. I have no accent, and I have been doing well in my life overall, except I score low on reading and written communication when I take exams.
I'm intelligent and a quick learner, but my vocabulary is kind of limited, and it makes me feel stupid, especially when I don't score well on exams. I try to read, but I don't always have the time. Do you have ideas on how I can improve my vocabulary or do better on exams?
- Smart But Feels Stupid
Dear Smart: I know someone who, like you, immigrated to the United States in her early 20s after having spent her first 17 years in Russia. From there she went to Italy, where she learned to speak Italian. From there she came to the U.S.
When I asked her how she learned English, she told me it was by watching American television. If there was a word she didn't understand, she would look it up in a dictionary. Not only can this be fun, I have heard others say that's the way they learned English, too.
She also read books in English with a dictionary by her side. Audiobooks could be helpful, too. An adult education class might help you not only improve your vocabulary, but also help you sharpen your written English skills. Please consider it.
Dear Abby: My 11-year-old niece sometimes calls my 7-year-old son fat, which hurts him to the core. He's very close with his cousins, and we get together a lot. I have talked to my sister on numerous occasions about it.
My son knows it's not OK to make fun of how others look, and he doesn't understand why she says these mean things to him. She's old enough to know better. I don't know how to get through to my sister that this behavior should be reprimanded when she doesn't seem to care.
-- Fed Up in Wisconsin
Dear Fed Up: Your sister's parenting skills appear to be questionable. Because she refuses to teach her daughter consideration for the feelings of others, or reprimand her when she's cruel and hurtful, see less of the two of them and spend more time with the other cousins.
Dear Abby: When I take my dog for a walk, I always carry little doggy bags and pick up his business. I live in a residential neighborhood with alleys behind the houses. After my dog does his business, I pick it up and often throw the tied-up bag in a trash can along the alley. Is this rude? Is it illegal to put things in other people's trash cans? My dog may make several stops along our long walks, and I don't want to carry his waste with me the whole trip.
-- Considerate in Colorado
Dear Considerate: Whether it's illegal in your community is something you should check locally because there may be an ordinance that forbids it. While I can't speak for everyone, some of the homeowners those trash cans belong to would strenuously object to someone throwing dog doo-doo into them. That's why my advice is, "When in doubt -- DON'T."
. Contact Dear Abby at DearAbby.com.