Five tips to improve your English vocabulary

Five tips to improve your English vocabulary

Do you want to learn new words and phrases in English? Here are five tips to improve your English vocabulary.

Learning vocabulary is a big part of learning a language. The more English words you learn, the better you can communicate your needs, ideas, thoughts and feelings to other people in English. 

Vocabulary is essential for understanding too. In fact, learning new words is one of the biggest things you can do to improve your reading and listening.

So what can you do to build your English vocabulary quickly and effectively? Here are five tips for better vocabulary learning.

1. Write down new words

It's a really good idea to write down useful new vocabulary. The act of writing the words helps you remember them better. Plus, lots of people learn better when they see things written on paper, rather than just hearing them. 

You can add a translation in your language, a definition in English, a note on pronunciation or even a drawing! The more different links you make between the word and its meaning, the better.

2. Revise new vocabulary regularly

So, you've got an English notebook full of useful vocabulary to remember. But did you know that if you don't look again at the new words and phrases you've studied, you only remember on average 20–25 per cent of it? That's a shocking waste of time and effort! 

The good news is that if you look at your notes again after an hour, again the next day and once more after a few days, you can make sure that 100 per cent of what you learn goes into your long-term memory. 

So make five minutes each day to revise your English vocabulary. The more you look backwards, the faster you go forwards! 

3. Read in English

They say the best way to learn a language is by immersion – spending time completely surrounded by that language. 

Well, reading is like immersion through your imagination! 

Reading is amazing for your English in general. But it's particularly good for learning new vocabulary. That's because understanding a new word as part of a story makes it much more memorable than trying to learn a list of words out of context. 

4. Learn from context

Speaking of context, let's talk more about that. Literally, 'context' means the text that comes before and after a particular word. It also refers to the situation in which a word is used. 

Context is your friend when you're learning new vocabulary! It helps you guess the meaning of words you don't know, it shows you how a word is used in a sentence, and it helps you remember the word for longer. 

This means learning vocabulary by reading and listening is more effective than trying to study word lists. It also means that it's better to make a note of how a word is used in a sentence, rather than just the word on its own. For example, instead of 'to make up = to invent', try learning, 'He'd totally made the story up!'. You've got useful information there – about the meaning, the types of things people 'make up' and the word order.

5. Use it or lose it!

Following the 'use it or lose it' principle, using words is the best way to make sure you don't forget them. So try using new vocabulary as soon as you can when you're speaking or writing in English. 

Have you noticed that you often need to use the same words and phrases when you're communicating in English? It's really worth the effort to practise the most common and the most useful words for you. 

Researchers have found that you need to see or hear a word on average ten times to remember it. But when you're actively making an effort with a word – for example, you ask the person you're talking to how to say something – you learn it much faster. 

So, get out there! Try to get as much exposure to English as you can. And take every opportunity to communicate in English with other people.

Jo Gore

Discussion

Average: 4.5 (102 votes)

Submitted by Rafael Castillo on Wed, 17/04/2024 - 02:46

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For me it is very helpful to write down the words and then use a dictionary to remember those words that are a little more complicated.

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Submitted by melal24.gt on Wed, 17/04/2024 - 02:38

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I consider that 'Write down new words' and 'Revise new vocabulary regularly' are the most useful tips to learn new vocabulary. When I watch some reels from Instagram, there are people that provide vocabulary, so I write the new words in a notebook and then I revise them. For me is the best way to remember new words.

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Submitted by waltermiranda99 on Wed, 17/04/2024 - 02:36

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These tips have been very helpful to have a better performance in learning vocabulary, to have a more decent English more appropriate to communicate, and to better develop your personal ideas.
 

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Submitted by NyssaV on Wed, 17/04/2024 - 02:34

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Great information you have given us. I am an English student and it is very helpful information like this. Thank you very much!

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Submitted by avrill on Wed, 17/04/2024 - 02:34

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This information is too useful to people who are trying to learn a new language, like me. TY!

Submitted by stevenrivera on Wed, 17/04/2024 - 02:33

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Another tip can be practice in and out of learning environment. To think, to Dream, to Live English as our native language. To make us obligated to use the language.

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Submitted by NyssaV on Wed, 17/04/2024 - 02:31

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Great information you have given us. I am an English student and it is very helpful information like this. Thank you very much!

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Submitted by JimmyGuo on Sun, 03/12/2023 - 11:15

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The tip Write down new words is most useful for improving my remembering of vocabulary.I usually type the new words into a dictionary to look up the meanings,listen to both American and British pronunciation and take notice of the difference. If I revise, I’ll be stressed whether I can remember them or not, instead,I spend more time learning English,without revising.

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Submitted by fidaasiddig on Sun, 13/08/2023 - 18:51

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Dose the learning from the context idea help me in using the new word I've learnt when I need it?

Hello fidaasiddig,

Since words are used in context (situational and linguistic) and not in isolation recognising how and when a word is used in terms of tone, collocation and so on can certainly help you to use it in a natural and appropriate way.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team