How To Improve Your English Vocabulary
Vocabulary is simply the foundation stone for any language. Without words, there wouldn’t be any language to speak of – literally.
We, as infants, start to learn our mother tongue by only repeating the words spoken around us. Therefore, it would be logical to say that if a person wants to learn a new language, he/she should start memorizing its vocabulary first.
So, why should we learn new words and expand our vocabulary? To communicate better of course! Communication is the key to understanding other people as well as being understood. If you can use words that will get you through conversations fluently, as a result you can communicate better.
In short, if you have any intentions to become an advanced English speaker, you have to have a broad vocabulary that can carry you along the wide variety of conversation topics. But what should you do in order to expand your English vocabulary – or any language for that matter? Well, first of all, practice is vital! Without practice, you can’t come close to become skilled in anything really and language is definitely one of those things.
There are fun and attractive ways to improve your vocabulary. In this article, we will go through several of them.
1 – You should read!
We mean you should read! The more you read, the more words you will see. Any reading material such as newspapers, magazines, comic books, and so on will provide you with new words, but if you really want to expand your capacity beyond the daily life, you must prefer novels, literary works and academic articles over anything else. As you read, you will come across many words that are completely new to you. Before you grab a dictionary and look them up, try to understand why they are used in certain sentences and what the author tried to convey by using those particular words.
2 – Always keep a dictionary around!
There is no shame in peeking into a dictionary if you are learning new words. When you are faced with a new word, consult with your dictionary – hard print, online application, a software – and look up its meaning or meanings. Try to pinpoint what the author of the text is trying to convey by using that word in a certain sentence. And of course, don’t forget to learn its pronunciation as well.
3 – Keep yourself up-to-date!
Get yourself a notebook, journal, memo book or anything of that sort and record every new word you learn in it. Divide your notebook into different topic sections like science, cinema, music, politics, cooking, e.t.c. and write down every new word you have learned in the related section. Once you do that, it will be even easier for you to keep track of your journey of learning new words. Having constant access to the new words you have learned will also help you memorize them easily. As we have said earlier, practice – memorization is the practice here – is the key to become an advanced English speaker.
4 – Set a daily target for yourself!
Just like any discipline, becoming an advanced speaker of English requires your daily effort. If you skip a day without learning new words, the learning process will be delayed. But, keep in mind that trying to overlearn will do you no good either. If you try to learn more words than your mind is capable of storing within a certain period of time, you will eventually forget whatever you have learned. So, setting a daily target for yourself is a great method. Tell yourself: “I’ll learn 10 new words today” and actually try to learn and memorize 10 new words that day for instance. As we have pointed out, avoid being over-enthusiastic about your progress and don’t try to learn more than 10 words – or whatever amount of words you decided to learn in a day.
5 – Play games!
Both desktop and video games fall under this category. Word games such as Scrabble or Upwords are perfect examples of these. Such games will help you immensely if your aim is to learn new words. Besides these, you can also play standard video games – PC or console – to improve your vocabulary. Today, video games are very trendy among all age groups regardless of gender. Most of them are in English. So, if you are a video game enthusiast or a gamer for short, play them to improve your English while having fun.
6 – Movies and TV shows are your best friend!
Watching movies and TV shows is not as effective a vocabulary-learning tool when compared to the other methods listed above, but still a viable method. Especially if you are good at listening and understanding what you hear. It’s almost guaranteed that you will hear at least a couple of new words while watching a movie. When it becomes a regular activity, you will be exposed to an immense amount of new words and expressions. Today, almost all movies and TV shows come with closed-captioning, meaning the English transcription of whatever is being spoken. By keeping closed captions on you can also see how new words are written. The biggest advantage of this method over reading books or other written material is that you get to learn the pronunciation and transcription of new words at the same time. Needless to mention, watching movies and TV shows is widely considered as a “much more fun activity” than reading a book. Hey, there is no reason not to have fun while learning new words!
7 – Just talk!
There is no reason to be shy while learning English. Engage yourself in conversations with native speakers as often as possible. When you hear a new word during a conversation, ask the native speaker to explain its meaning to you; and remember to write it down in your notebook for further memorization practice.
To sum it up, all the tips written above are great ways to learn new words and further improve your English vocabulary. But as we have mentioned above, all of this would be a waste unless you put time and effort into it and practice what you learn. Remember, practice makes perfect! Learning alone is not enough, you also need to make use of what you have already learned.