BY KEVIN AVERY, BRITISH COUNCIL TEACHER
I am often asked questions by learners and one of the biggest is “How do I improve my vocabulary?” Here are some easy ways to improve and expand the list of words you use in English.
Why expand your knowledge and use of words? You’ll be able to communicate (speak and write) more clearly and using less words, people will understand you more easily, and you will understand more. Learning new words is a fun activity — and one you can even do with the people around you. Challenge a friend, family member, or roommate to learn new words with you.
1. Read, read, and read.
The more you read — especially novels, but also magazines and newspapers — the more words you’ll learn. As you read and uncover new words, try to work out the meaning from the sentence as well as from looking up the definition in a dictionary. Write down new words. Your vocabulary will sky rocket!
2. Keep a dictionary and thesaurus handy.
Use whatever versions you prefer — in print, software, or online. A good quality dictionary is one hundred times better than google translate, and electronic ones are quick! When you uncover a new word, look it up in the dictionary to get both its pronunciation and its meaning(s). Next, go to the thesaurus and find similar words and phrases — and their opposites (synonyms and antonyms).
3. Build your own dictionary.
It’s a very good idea to write down the new words you discover. Just by writing them down you will start to recognise the words when you read. Plus, keeping a dictionary of all your new words will give you the confidence to learn even more words — especially when you can see how many new words you’ve already learnt.
4. Learn a word a day.
Using a word a day calendar, a website, or develop your own list of words to learn. This is a great technique many people use to learn new words. Don’t feel you must learn a new word every day.
5. Play some games.
Word games that challenge you and help you discover new meanings and new words are a great tool for expanding your vocabulary. Examples include crossword puzzles, anagrams, word jumble, Scrabble, and Boggle.
6. Engage in conversations.
Simply talking with other people can help you learn discover new words. As with reading, once you hear a new word, remember to jot it down so that you can study it later — and then slowly add the new word to your vocabulary.
You hold the key to a better vocabulary. By using the tips from this article, you should be well on your way to discovering and learning new words to expand your vocabulary and strengthen your use of the English language. Finally, remember that you must practice putting your new words into your writing and speaking so that you continue to remember them. Good luck!
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