How Can I Improve My Vocabulary? (9 Expert Recommendations)
The English language is voluminous, meaning you’ll never run out of new words to learn and use. Adding new words to your written vocabulary, developing a reading habit, playing word games, and taking courses to improve your memory are some effective ways to improve your vocabulary.
Building a strong vocabulary allows you to communicate your thoughts verbally and in writing. It helps you avoid confusion when conveying a message and pushes you to achieve maximum clarity.
Knowing how to communicate in a specific language is a powerful skill that improves your written communication vocabulary. The better you are at it, the better you can engage an audience and pique their interest.
Having a large vocabulary allows you to customize ideas and messages for specific audiences, say the same thing in multiple ways, and rewrite ideas from resources without copying the original words.
In this post, we’ll look at strategic ways to help you improve your vocabulary to achieve a sense of expertise and professionalism.
1. Develop a reading habit
Reading improves focus and concentration while helping you learn new things, including vocabulary. Developing a reading habit can be difficult for some people due to lack of time. However, there are various tips and tricks to help you develop a daily reading habit.
Setting aside time every day to read can help you become consistent. You can read early in the morning, while commuting, during lunch, or before sleep.
You should also find a quiet place without distractions, such as in your bed or a comfortable chair or sofa. If you are at home, turn off the TV, put your phone aside, and turn on silent. A quiet park can also be a great option as you enjoy the clean atmosphere.
There are two types of reading: passive and active. While passive reading is better than no reading, active reading offers a more direct approach. It involves highlighting important passages and writing notes in the book’s margin or a separate notebook.
You can also keep track of your reading by having a journal where you can jot down quotes you like and the names of the books you read. Reviewing your journal later helps you refresh your memory.
2. Learn one new word every day
Learning new words gives you extensive knowledge of English vocabulary. Words are the building blocks of any language, so mastering them can help you express yourself better in writing and speaking.
Start with one new word every day. Make it your goal to learn at least five new words per week. Look up the definition of each word in one of the many online dictionaries and write down its meaning, then use the word in an example sentence.
Keep a running list of the new words you’ve learned, and read it every night before you sleep. You can also create flashcards with the words and their definitions so that you can review them throughout the day.
When learning a new word, use it in the proper context for a better understanding. For example, if you learn the word “ebullience,” use it in a sentence such as: “He was filled with ebullience after getting the promotion.”
3. Study root words to learn multiple words at once
A root word is the heart of a word that helps you understand its meaning and enables you to form related words. It’s the element that carries the most important part of a word’s meaning and upon which complete words are built.
For example, the word “port” is a root word. From it, you can create words such as portable, portal, export, import, deport, and so on. Understanding a root word exposes you to various words derived from the same source and helps you build your vocabulary faster.
It also helps with spelling as it provides a base to build upon. When you know the root word and its meaning, you find it easier to retain the spelling and the meaning of related words.
Root words help non-native English language learners understand the meaning of multiple words quickly and more efficiently. They are also great for language arts and SAT preparation.
4. Play word games
Word games are fun while providing phonological and/or semantic relatedness to practice and build your vocabulary. Learning English vocabulary can be hard work, so these games provide an enjoyable way to review and reinforce your learning.
They range from board and card games to online options like Scrabble and Boggle. Word games can be educational, competitive, or recreational. They challenge your thinking, help you develop focus and concentration, and provide a fun way to increase your vocabulary.
Crossword puzzles are some of the most popular word-learning games. They come in easy, medium, and hard levels, so you can choose according to your comfort level. Word scrambles are another favorite and involve rearranging letters to form a word.
These games also improve memory retention as you must remember the definitions of the words you are learning. They also help create associations between words; some even have a timer to test your speed.
You can play some word games alone, while others require two or more players. Joining a word game club in your city or online can help you meet people with similar interests and expand your knowledge base.
Read also: What Games Help Improve Memory?
5. Use mnemonics, associations, and visual aids
Mnemonics are memory aids that use associations and acronyms to help you remember things easier. They are especially helpful for learning unfamiliar words as they break the word down into easier-to-remember bits.
For example, the word “onomatopoeia” can be broken down into three components: “onoma,” which means name; “topia,” which means place; and “oeia,” which means sound. This helps you remember that the word refers to a word that imitates the sound it describes.
Visual aids, such as images, diagrams, and charts, can also help you learn new words by providing a visual representation. They create a better understanding of the word and help you remember it creatively. You could draw pictures with the words, which helps associate them with a certain image.
Flashcards are another useful tool for learning and retaining new vocabulary words. You can use them to quiz yourself and see how well you remember the definitions of words.
Flashcards are effective for languages with characters or symbols you don’t know. You can write down the new word, its definition, and a picture to help you remember it.
Accelareader, a speed reading tool can help you increase your reading speed by 50% or more without any formal training. This interactive tool is highly customizable and you can set the speed you want. Accelareader flashes the words you want to read at the set speed. You can also choose the text size, chunk size, and words per meeting.
6. Take courses to improve your memory
Your memory is the key to effectively learning new words. If you cannot remember the word and its meaning, you can’t use it in a sentence to improve your speaking and writing skills.
Exercising your memory by taking courses focusing on mnemonics or visual memory is an effective way to improve your vocabulary skills. These courses help you understand how memory works and offer strategies to store and recall information better.
Memory training classes or courses also provide tips and techniques to boost focus and concentration. Practicing mindfulness, which involves focusing on the present moment without judgment, is another effective way to improve memory.
Memory courses include both practical and theoretical information. You can find online courses or join a local class to gain new knowledge about using memory techniques for better retention.
You may also like: How to Train Your Memory Like a Memory Champion?
7. Watch movies, TV Shows, and listen to podcasts
Movies and TV shows can introduce you to many new phrases while entertaining you. You can learn new vocabulary words by watching the same program several times. Repetition helps you familiarize yourself more with the words and phrases you hear in the show.
While watching TV, you must pay attention to every conversation and note down any new words you hear to learn. After the show, look up the meaning of these words and practice using them in your conversations.
If you are just starting to learn a specific language, you can turn on the subtitles when watching a movie or TV show. This way, you can read and understand the dialogue more easily.
After watching a show or movie with subtitles, test your understanding by watching it again without the subtitles. This will help you gauge how well you have learned the vocabulary and whether you must look at the subtitles again.
Like movies and TV shows, podcasts can help you become more effective when speaking vocabulary. It is a great and entertaining way to learn new words in context, and you can easily pause and replay parts of the conversation that contain new words.
8. Learn from other learners
At any given moment, someone is trying to learn the same language you are learning. They might be close to you where you can arrange for physical meet-ups or miles away where you can only communicate online.
Learning something similar with others becomes much easier since you can practice speaking vocabulary with each other. It is fun discussing what you already know, sharing tips for learning, and helping each other grow.
You can also engage native speakers in your area and request them to share real-life examples of using a particular word correctly. This exposes you to using the vocabulary you learn in an authentic context.
The are numerous online forums where language learners can interact and share. They can have conversations in the language they are learning, which helps them understand it more deeply.
You can also join a virtual language exchange and practice speaking with someone from another country. This type of interaction allows you to learn about the culture and language of other countries.
During your meetings with other language learners, commit only to speaking the language you are learning. This will help challenge and improve your skills.
9. Listen to music
While music has the power to entertain, it can also help you learn new vocabulary words. Listening to music is a great way to become familiar with different expressions and phrases in the language you are learning.
Pay attention to the lyrics and try to understand what they mean. Take notes of any new words you hear, look them up, and practice using them.
You can also find songs written to help you learn vocabulary words. These songs use rhythm and melodies to make learning fun and engaging.
Creating a playlist with songs you like can help boost your motivation to learn and practice new words. It also reminds you of words and phrases you’ve already learned.
Takeaway: Improving your vocabulary effectively
Improving your vocabulary is a great way to enhance your speaking and writing skills. Some of the most effective ways of learning new words include listening to music, watching movies/TV shows/podcasts, taking courses to improve your memory, and using flashcards.
Courses on personal productivity can also help boost your focus and concentration and motivate you to learn new vocabulary. You can also engage with other English language learners to help each other learn and practice speaking to improve your vocabulary.
Iris Reading offers a Maximizing Memory course to help you retain information more easily. Visit our website today to view our various courses.