English is not just the language of international communication anymore. It has become the language of science, media, business, diplomacy, tourism, and a lot more.
If you’re an English learner and want to take your English speaking and writing skills to the next level or you’re trying to learn English as a new language, focus on improving your English vocabulary. Whether you want to learn new words for your personal growth, school, or tests such as the SATs, vocabulary building can be a fun and rewarding experience.
Vocabulary is an important skill to learn. After all, it is the foundation for the development of other skills like English listening, speaking, writing, reading, and pronunciation. Let’s have a quick look at why learning English vocabulary matters a lot.
- Improving vocabulary skills improves reading comprehension.
- It sharpens your communication and helps you choose words more precisely.
- Better vocabulary opens up your mind and gives you new insights into the English language.
- It boosts your ability to think more logically.
- A large vocabulary makes you seem more intelligent in conversations.
Now that you know the benefits of improving your English vocabulary let’s find out how to enhance it.
1. Add New Vocabulary to Your Dictionary
A lot of English learners don’t realize it, but writing down new words that you learn is one of the best ways to remember new vocabulary. As soon as you learn a new word in your English learning class or while roaming around your city (maybe from advertising hoardings), add it to your dictionary. As per your convenience, you can keep a small notebook or create a memo on your phone to update a list of all new English vocabulary you learn.
Vocabulary lists rarely work. It’s confusing when you try to memorize several words at once and your brain won’t easily be able to process what each word means.
It’s better to learn new words one by one. An easy way to do so is by getting a word-of-the-day calendar or going to Merriam-Webster’s Word-of-the-Day page. You can even get word-of-the-day toilet paper (this is a fun way to quickly learn a new word and be forced to remember what its definition is). Of course, vocabulary flashcards always work, too.
2. Use New Words
Adding new words to your dictionary is not enough. It would be best if you strived to slip these new words into your daily conversations with friends, family, and colleagues. Practice using the new words in your dinner conversations or when you talk to your parents. Even slip them into text messages when appropriate. Think of topics where these words will fit in.
3. Make Reading a Regular Habit
Reading books is one of the best ways to improve your English. Even if you’re out of school or college, you shouldn’t give up reading. Remember, reading books introduces us to new words and ideas. Moreover, you learn how to use those words in specific contexts.
According to your taste, you can choose to read books, articles, blogs, or magazines. However, it is advisable to read some technical and nonfiction books. Usually, such books are full of vocabulary that can teach you new ways to think and speak.
4. Link a Story to Each New Word You Learn
According to research, our brain understands new words or concepts quickly when they’re linked to a story. For instance, if you want to learn the word “gluttony,” which means overindulgence in food or drink, you can try to think of any of your friends who you feel consumes an immoderate amount of food or drink. It will help you recall the meaning of that word at any given time.
5. Use a Thesaurus
When you read or write something, use a synonym dictionary to find out the precise meanings of the words you use. For those who don’t know, a thesaurus is a reference work for finding synonyms. You can also use it to clarify the meaning of unfamiliar words. It can surely increase your vocabulary to some extent.
It also helps to look up root words for new words you learn. By understanding what the root of the word means, you’ll be able to memorize patterns which will help when you see similar words that have the same root.
6. Try to Look Up Unfamiliar Words
While learning English, you will come across words that are strange to you. Take the time to find out the meaning of those words and how to use them in a conversation. Add all new words to your personal dictionary and look them up whenever you have time.
7. Do Word Puzzles
You’re mistaken if you think word puzzles or crosswords in magazines and newspapers are for fun only. They are excellent for boosting vocabulary as well. Indeed, puzzles are a challenge that enables your brain to work hard to search for words.
Doing puzzles will change the way you look at words. You will learn different meanings for the same word, and ultimately you will be able to use them in your writing or while having a conversation with someone.
In addition to this, you can also consider playing some fun games to improve your English vocabulary. Some of the popular word games you can try out include – Pictionary, Articulate, Boggle, Catchphrase, Wordle, and Scrabble.
Once you learn more words, do crossword puzzles to help you better link new words to their definitions.
8. Practice What You Learn
To memorize the new words you learn, you must practice them proactively. If you don’t use the new vocabulary in a real-life setting on a regular basis, you will quickly forget it. Engage in conversation with your friends and family and try to include new vocabulary wherever is appropriate.
You can also get vocabulary workbooks that will help you practice what you’ve learned.
9. Fill Empty Words in Your Conversation
Have you ever noticed those empty words in your speech such as “um,” “yeah,” “ah,” or “uh”? If you find so many fillers in your speech or writing that don’t offer any essence, replace them with something more relevant from your personal dictionary. Try this out as it will surely improve your vocabulary to a large extent. Filling in these word gaps will help you learn how to use new words in your conversations and messages.
10. Set Goals and Stay Motivated
It is the backbone of learning anything new. Until you are motivated to learn vocabulary, no tip can help you out. So first of all, try to stay motivated. Do things that motivate you to learn new words every day.
Below, check out some easy ways to stay motivated to increase your English vocabulary.
- A lot of English learners have a negative view of their English skills. They keep thinking things like
“I have been practicing English for a long time, but it is still bad.”
“I make a lot of mistakes when writing and speaking.”
Never let such negative views come to your mind.
- Whether you’re learning English to work in a multinational company or to settle down in an English-speaking country, you must have a clear goal right from the beginning. Visualize your end goal. It will give you the motivation to work hard on improving your English vocabulary.
- Keep reminding yourself that it is important.
- Keep a record of your progress. It will motivate you to reach your goal.
- Develop the habit of learning new words from different sources.
So these are a few great ways to help you with your vocabulary learning. Try them out and take your English vocabulary skill to the next level.