Vocabulary is a key part of learning a new language. But what’s the best way to pick up new words and remember them? Here are our top tips for building up your vocabulary.
1 Read & listen!
The best way to learn new words is to do it the natural way: by reading and listening to lots of English. And if you read and listen to things that you’re really interested in, you’ll improve your range of vocabulary without even realising it as you absorb language within interesting content.
Interestingly, studies have shown that the more effort you put into working out what a word means, the easier it is to remember. So, instead of reaching for the dictionary, try to guess the meaning of any difficult words.
There are thousands of words and expressions in English. But which ones do you need to learn? The answer is simple: high-frequency words. You can find high-frequency words in dialogues or conversations. Interestingly, a study by Oxford Online has found that the top 3,000 words in English make up 70% of the words we use.
4 Think context!
Make a note of any words you want to learn in sentences – never as individual words. When language is in context, you can see how the words fit together and how they’re used. Also, try grouping words into categories or themes: food words, marketing terms… Studies have shown that we group words in our brains according to themes or topics. So, if you do this with the words you want to learn, they’ll be easier to remember.
Once you’ve identified the words you want to learn, you’ll find that some are easier to remember than others. Here are our top tips for learning the difficult ones.
6 Break them down!
Break down any long or complicated words. For example, by taking away the prefix (un) and the suffix (able) from the word uncomfortable, you’re left with comfort, which is probably a word you already know.
7 Use them!
Use any new words as often as you can. Studies have shown that after you’ve used a new word three times, you’ll never forget it.
8 Read & listen… again!
Keep reading and listening as much as possible. The more you read and listen the greater the possibility of finding your target word in different contexts, which will help you learn more about it.
9 See them!
Try to find a picture of the word you want to learn. Seeing an image of it is often a really quick and easy way to learn it.
10 Say them!
Repeating words out loud will help you remember them. Studies have shown that verbalising language helps you internalise it.
11 Compare them!
Find as many examples as you can of your target word in sentences. Then, you’ll see it in lots of different contexts. Simply type your target word into Google and write “+ in a sentence”. Then, print off the results.
12 Record them!
Use a voice recorder to record yourself saying the target words in sentences. Then, use an MP3 player to listen to the sentences while you’re waiting for a bus, relaxing on the sofa or walking along the street. Tests have shown that the more ways language enters your head (through sight, hearing, etc.) the easier it is to remember.
13 Check them!
Use flashcards to review your progress. Write your target word in a sentence on one side of a flashcard and a definition on the other side. Then, test yourself during the day. If you’ve got a smartphone or tablet computer, you could use flashcard apps such as Anki or Quizlet.
14 Translate them!
Translate a sentence with the key word in it. Then, test yourself by covering up the English version and trying to translate the sentence from your language into English.
15 Get creative!
Use mnemonics for really difficult words. Mnemonics (pronounced “nemonics”) are memory aids such as pictures, poems, rhymes and stories, that you can use to help you remember things. For example, a Spanish student was having difficulty with the word “hill” (a small mountain). So, he drew a picture of Jesus Gil (a famous politician) on a hill (the surname “Gil” has a similar pronunciation to the word “hill”). After that, she never forgot the word. Try making connections between English words and words in your own language.
Have fun learning new words!
Copyright © 2014 by Hot English Publishing
How Learn Hot English magazine can help!
Learn Hot English magazine is great for increasing your range of vocabulary. Articles in the magazine are full of useful, high-frequency words and expressions. There are also glossary boxes to help you understand the language, and lots of dialogues and conversations so you get the language you need for instant communication. Click here for your copy of Learn Hot English magazine: http://www.learnhotenglish.com/shop/index.php/reading-listening/hot-english-magazine.html
■ key adjective = very important
■ to pick up phr vb = to learn
■ to absorb vb = if you “absorb” information, you learn and understand it
■ to work out phr vb = if you “work out” the meaning of something, you understand it
■ to reach for exp = if you “reach for” something close to you, you move your arm so you can take it in your hands
■ to guess vb = if you “guess” the meaning of something, you imagine what the meaning is even though you don’t really know
■ high-frequency adj = a “high-frequency” word is very common and appears many times in texts, dialogues, etc.
■ in context exp = if a word is “in context”, it appears with other words in a sentence, dialogue, etc.
■ to fit together exp = the way words “fit together” is the way they go together and are combined
■ to group vb = if you “group” words, you put them into categories: animal words, food words (for example)
■ target adj = a “target” word (for example) is the one you’re trying to understand or remember
■ to verbalise vb = if you verbalise ideas, you say them
■ to internalise vb = if you “internalise” something, you learn it very well and it becomes fixed in your mind//brain/head
■ to print off phr vb = if you “print off” a document, you produce a paper copy of it by using a printer or photocopier
■ an aid n = something that helps you do a job
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Copyright © 2014 by Hot English Publishing
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