How to Build your Vocabulary
Vocabulary building is one of key elements of improving your English language skills. The more words you understand enough to use in conversation and written tasks, the easier your grasp of not only the language but also the culture becomes! When you are learning English as a second language, you will be picking up new words all the time. In addition to the new words you hear in the classroom make it a habit to learn a new word a day
Learn a New Word a Day, but … Which Word?
Let’s face it, you’re not going to go word by word through the dictionary. So, what’s the best approach to building vocabulary?
- Make notes of words you are hearing in the classroom or outside, but which you do not understand. If these words are coming up in daily conversation, chances are they are commonly used and good to know.
- Be aware of the words you use a lot in your own language and find the English equivalent word or words. This is important because what you talk about is what interests you or is important to you. Acquiring a vocabulary which reflects your world make sense if you want to express yourself.
- But – get out of your comfort zone. Learn the words that are part of your surroundings, the things you do with your friends, the slang of the local culture, and the vocabulary you need to get by in your daily activities in your host city.
- Take an interest in current affairs, news and big issues that are trending in your host neighborhood, city and country. Find out the meanings of the vocabulary words which are associated with these issues and events. This will help you take conversations further with native speakers and immerse you in the culture in a very real way.
In order to learn that one word a day, here are some techniques which will help you use them effectively and appropriately:
- Write down the word.
- Look up the definition of the word and how it is used in the context of a sentence.
- Hear how the word is correctly pronounced and repeat the word out loud.
- See how you can associate the word with an image or another word so that you can remember the meaning and the way it is pronounced.
- Test yourself and ask your friends to test you.
- Use the word in conversation.
- Know how it is spelled and use the word in your written communication.
As you keep up with your ‘learn a word a day’ routine, you will suddenly realize that you have acquired a measure of fluency that allows you to use these words properly without giving them a second thought. When you are learning English as a second language, remember that, as with anything you learn, the way forward is structuring and maintaining your study schedule and outside of that schedule, it’s all about practice, practice, practice!!