What’s the best way to learn new English vocabulary?
Actually, there is no single best way, there is no quick solution. If you want to succeed in English, you need to keep practicing as “practice makes perfect.” However, in this writing today, Learn English Fun Way has 10 tips or recommendations that might help you to improve your English vocabulary. Among these suggestions, you need to find the best way for you and to do that you need to take a few moments to think about YOU.
Think about your interests. Do you like reading? Watching movies? Watching the news? How do you like to learn? Do you like to learn inside or outside, in a group or alone? What type of learner are you? How do you best take in information? And what’s your schedule like? When can you study? On the train or with your kids?
Use this information to find the opportunities to learn and enjoy English. The truth is that to successfully learn new vocabulary, you need to create really good study habits. You need to keep it interesting and you need to make sure that you’re having fun! It’s something that you need to be doing every day so you need to find a way to involve things that you love to do.
For example, you get really bored reading grammar books and listening to words through dictionaries. Instead, you are much more likely to stay motivated if you eating or drinking. The best option for you here is to study around meals. It may sound funny but it will work, as when you feel interested in studying, your hard work will pay off.
Consistency is key when you’re learning new words. You can’t just learn them once and magically they’re kept inside your head forever. You need to hear them again and again. Understand how they’re used in different context or how they’re conjugated or used in different, in word families.
You need to use them yourself. The truth is that we all learn differently. So in this lesson, we are going to talk about 10 different tools and techniques that you can use to improve your vocabulary. You might not like all of them but you will definitely enjoy some of them and hopefully you can make them a part of your daily or your weekly routine. And if you’ve got any of your own suggestions about ways to learn vocabulary, then add them to the comments below! Now, let’s start with our lesson!
10 Tips To Build Your Vocabulary
1, Get better at studying new words.
Keep for yourself a vocabulary journal by doing this in lots of different ways. If you think it’s dorky to carry around a notebook, then find another way that works for you. There are lots of apps that can help you to do this. Thanks to these apps, you can easily make notes right on your smart phone. Your phone is great because it’s always with you. But, if you prefer to keep a notebook, that’s just as good.
Neat ways of doing this are creating lists or creating vocabulary maps. However, if you do it, you need to keep updating it and you need to keep building on this list and don’t just write the word down. Go deeper! If it’s a noun, learn whether it’s countable or uncountable. Learn the prefixes and suffixes so that you can build on those words. Learn synonyms for those words.
For example, if you say “I feel angry”, there are so many other options such as “annoyed, irritated, furious, frustrated, or cranky”. Learn if any of these words are used in phrasal verbs or idioms.
2, When you do learn new words, don’t just learn them on their own.
Learn them with the words that they are often used with. These are called “collocations”. Two or more English words that are often said together or used together. They sound right because native speakers often use them together.
For example, you should say “ I throw or have or plan a party”. Don’t say “ I make a party”. Or instead of memorising the word “apply”, learn the phrase “apply for a job” or “apply for a citizenship” or “apply for a visa”.
You can learn hundreds of new individual words but you’ll be frustrated if you can’t put them together in a sentence that sounds correct and natural. When you learn words in groups, you’re learning the words with the verb, the nouns, the prepositions that they are commonly used with, so you’ll sound much more natural when you speak.
3, Learn new vocabulary through stories.
Stories are full of new words, phrases and interesting expressions that show you how words come together in a really entertaining way. Just like the collocation method, you are learning new vocabulary in context. You’re not only learning what words to use but you’re learning how to use them.
An important note to remember is that it’s important to challenge yourself but not feel completely overwhelmed and confused. Read stories that are fun, enjoyable and that help you to feel confident with English.
Start with children’s books if you need to! There are lots of great children’s books out there that are interesting, funny, and full of adventure. Start with children’s books and if you’re reading them and it becomes too easy, you can try something a bit more challenging.
For pre-intermediate/intermediate learners, it is high recommended for you to read:
- Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
- Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown
- Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
- Charlotte’s Web by E.B.White
For upper-intermediate/advanced learners, it is high recommended for you to read:
- James and The Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
- The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
- To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- Animal Farm by George Orwell
4, Listen while you read.
In this wonderful day and age that we live in, you can also find audiobooks for almost any book that you can imagine. This is great as when you’re learning English, hearing how the words are pronounced is so important. In English, words are often not pronounced the way that you think they are, so listening and reading at the same time is even better!
You should use Audible to download your audiobooks and listen to them while you are jogging, travelling, or drifting off to sleep.
Besides, TED Talks are also really a great choice for you because there are TED Talks on almost every topic imaginable and you can also follow the transcript as the speaker is speaking.
5, Learn new vocabulary through songs.
If you love listening to music, there is no doubt that learning new vocabulary through songs will help you to remember them. You need to find songs where the words are not sung too fast so that you can hear each word and how it’s pronounced. It’s more effective if you can download the lyrics and read them as you’re listening. You can easily find the lyrics to heaps of other English songs at metrolyrics: http://www.metrolyrics.com/
There are so many more benefits to learning vocabulary through songs! They get stuck in your head so you’ll be singing them and practising them so often you won’t even feel like you’re doing it – in the shower, while you’re exercising, while you’re driving to work. Songs also use colloquial language or slang language that’s really common in English. You’ll also hear how words are contracted and reduced and it’s going to improve your speaking skills too. If you’re singing out loud you’ll be improving aspects of your pronunciation. And the rhythm of music helps you to memorise new vocabulary
If you’ve got any suggestions about great English music that you like to listen to, make sure you add it to the comments.
6, Get better at using online dictionaries.
Online dictionaries offer so many ways to practice and learn new English vocabulary.
Let’s look at the word “PRODUCE” as an example. When you look up this word in an online dictionary, you can read the definition, and also listen to the different verb forms such as “producers, produced, producing”. You can read lots of example sentences that show how this word is used. You can also learn synonyms and collocations. You can also see the entire word family: produce, producer, production, productive, unproductive, productively,product, produce. You’ll also listen to the pronunciation and in this example, you’ll be surprised (maybe) to learn that the verb “produce” and the noun “produce” are pronounced differently.
We recommend some famous online dictionaries below:
- Macmillan Dictionary – http://www.macmillandictionary.com/
- Oxford Dictionary – https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/
- Cambridge Dictionary – http://dictionary.cambridge.org/
7, Use flashcards and labels.
Flashcards have been a really favourite way of learning new vocabulary for years and years. However, there are lots more options available for us today. You might prefer to hand-write English phrases on one side of a card and then translate them into your own native language on the other, but you can also use an SRS program such as Anki. (Anki App – https://www.ankiapp.com/)
This allows you to remember a large number of words in a short amount of time. And it also lets you work at your own pace. It’s kind of digital flashcards and as you practise, the program remembers what words you get wrong and it shows you them more frequently. It’s a really efficient way of studying!
8, Describe the world around you
If you like using a dictionary to learn new vocabulary, getting into the habit of describing things that are happening around you in English is a really great way to study. When you’re unsure of words, look them up. It will help you to fill in the gaps in your vocabulary.
For example, when you’re at your local supermarket, ask yourself “Do I remember the names for everything that’s in the fridge?” or “How can I describe the woman waiting in line?” or “Do I know the English names of all of these vegetables?”
When you can’t think of a word, you stop and you look it up at the online dictionary. Understand how it’s used, practice it and then use it again next time you’re at the supermarket. You can also do it on your way to work on the bus, as you’re going past things you can think of the vocabulary and try and fill in the gaps when you don’t know how to describe it or explain it.
9, Imitate a native speaker.
Imitation is a great technique for you to improve your overall English skills. Imitating a native speaker not only help you learn new English vocabulary and expressions in context but also develop your English pronunciation. Gradually, you will sound more natural, like a native English speaker and become more confident in conversations with native speakers. With the enhancement of Internet, you can easily find yourself an English-speaking friends, you can add friends with native speakers on Facebook, Instagram. Or you can watch British or American TV shows and imitate what the characters are saying.
10, Speak and practice being in conversations
This method is especially suitable for those who are at an Intermediate English level. By the time you’ve reached pre-intermediate to intermediate level, you already have enough English vocabulary, you can communicate what you want. The message might not be perfect but it’s enough and at this point, practicing real conversation will certainly help catapult your English skills.
In conversations, you’re developing core language skills simultaneously. You’re listening, you’re asking questions, you’re learning new vocabulary. You’re pushing yourself to find new ways to express your ideas. And if you’re not expressing yourself clearly enough, you have to find a new way of explaining yourself. And all of this is happening at once, all pressure involved will force you to try your best and apply all what you have learned. Undeniably, there is no better way to build your language skills than immersing yourself inside an English conversation.
There are many different ways that you practice speaking English. You even can do it online, there are companies that connect you with people who want to study English like Cambly and Lingoda.
- Cambly: https://www.cambly.com
- Lingoda: https://www.lingoda.com
So above are ten suggestions for improving your vocabulary. Try them out and find the tip that work best for you as we all learn differently. We all have different priorities and different amounts of time to spend when we’re learning new languages. You need to create your own good study habits and find ways to enjoy English while you’re learning new words.
In order to get further explanation and practice your listening skills also, watch the video below. We hope you are engaged in the lesson today. Thank you for reading and see you in the next writing!
Credit: Youtube Channel “mmmEnglish”