If you have ever tried to learn a foreign language before, you surely know how frustrating it can be when you can’t remember a certain word and can’t think of any alternative that could have the same meaning. This means you need to improve your vocabulary! Reading and listening on a regular basis is the most commonly used way to improve your vocabulary, but simply knowing a word is not enough. Knowing how to use it in context is also imperative. Knowing a word and its meaning alone will not be beneficial, if you don’t know how to use it correctly.
Listening effectively improves your attention span, allowing you to process and understand information faster. In contrast, reading improves your memory - for example, when reading a novel, you need to remember small details like the names of the characters, the plot etc. These two methods also gradually help you improve your grammar, sentence structure, pronunciation and articulation as you practice more. The best strategies for improving your vocabulary incorporate both listening and reading, further cementing your understanding of the new words. But instead of doing vocabulary worksheets, try using these 8 different methods as you learn better how to expand your vocabulary.
One of the best ways to improve your vocabulary is through reading and making it a habit! You can read anything from blogs, articles and books that interest you. Reading about things that interest you also helps with keeping you engaged and excited for the next read! Furthermore, reading helps you recognize new words that you are unfamiliar with and in addition, while learning new words, you also learn how to pronounce, spell and how to use them in the correct context.
Watching English TV Shows with English Subtitles
Watching your favorite series, movies or reality show, with English subtitles, is another way to help you actively listen for and read new words and phrases, while enjoying the show. Just like listening to fluent English speakers having a conversation from across the table, watching an English show has the same benefits. The great thing here is that you can rewind or replay a specific part to actively listen for pronunciation and how those words are used in a sentence or conversation. By rewinding it, you can listen to the new word multiple times in context to cement meaning and pronunciation in your mind.
Use A Dictionary/Thesaurus
Make the dictionary and thesaurus your best friend! When coming across a new word, your first intuition will be to wonder what that particular word means, and that’s why a dictionary comes in so handy. You can look up a word to find its meaning as well as get one or two sentence examples. In addition, a thesaurus will help you find many new words that have the same meaning, these are known as synonyms, and you can use them interchangeably. Furthermore, you can also use it to find antonyms, which are words with the opposite meaning.
Play Word Games
Whether you’re hosting a game night with English-speaking friends or enjoy a game or two on your phone, word games are a very fun and engaging way to improve your vocabulary! Games like a word scramble, word search, or completing a crossword puzzle over breakfast can definitely up your language game. Playing these games can also improve your spelling as well as help you associate definitions and descriptions with the correct word. Moreover, they foster interactions which results in improved communication and enhanced memory as well as confidence. Play word games will introduce you to many different words you can add to your vocabulary.
Listen to Podcasts/Radio/Music
Just like watching your favorite TV show, listening to podcasts or radio stations that cover topics you highly enjoy, can certainly help you pick up new words to advance your vocabulary. You may also like or would like to immerse yourself in popular culture music from English-speaking countries. Music like pop, rap, or hip-hop for example, exposes you to pun and poetic language, which most likely consists of new or unfamiliar words. Songs are fun and this goes for any genre that you may enjoy, so listening to the narration or dialogue repeatedly can help you memorize words/the lyrics easier if you find it difficult to do so with reading. But remember to sing along out loud!
Join an English Study Group/Online Classes
Whether one-on-one or through group lessons, online classes have proven to be your best bet! Not only do you get to engage in conversational practice with a certified and experienced tutor/teacher but you get to complete tailored practical activities where you’ll come across new words as well as complete exercises and learn how to use these words. CORE Languages is one of many platforms that provides this service and has excellent teachers that can help you along your journey, so if you haven't signed up on our platform, sign up today!
Invest in a Vocabulary Journal
While it's important to continuously seek different ways to broaden your vocabulary, it's equally important that you journal or jot down each word while engaging in any of the suggested activities above. This will help you revisit your entries to practice and ultimately, retain the meaning and keep each word to use for later.
Engaging in conversations regularly is not the only way to practice enhancing your vocabulary but you can also practice through writing! So, whether you’re writing an essay, report, social media post or just journaling about your day, it will always be a good idea to incorporate in some new words you’ve learned.
Now that you’ve learned the knowledge and skills, it's time to put them into practice and engage in conversations, listen to some music, or do some writing! Using words in the right context is just as important as the number of words that you know. Speaking as well as writing more frequently and adapting these new words and phrases in your day-to-day life will not only help you become more proficient, but it will also help you articulate yourself better as you grow to be more confident.
Did you find some new words and phrases in this article? Go ahead and find their meanings, jot them in your vocabulary journal and practice using them in your next conversation or write up!
Haven't chosen which language to learn yet? Check out our article Top Ten Foreign Languages Spoken in the U.S. to help you decide.