Education: First Things First

As soon as a foreigner tries to master English, he runs up against the well-known anarchy of the vocabulary. A game, he learns, means a sport; but there are also game legs, big game, and being game to try. Draw is a common word: but there are drawing pictures, drawing water, drawing & quartering, and fighting to a draw. Fifteen years ago, big, black-haired Psychologist Irving Lorge of Columbia University's Teachers College decided to count the meanings of the most common English words, then try to determine which meanings a beginner should learn...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!