So, you want to improve your English vocabulary?Here are some of my top tips to help learn and remember new words and expressions.
Have a method for learning and remembering new English vocabulary?
Easily forget new words?
Try to use new expressions but fail?
Well, before we start, I need to say something strange here.
Maybe you won’t believe it. But, the truth is, many of my students are terrible at trying to learn new vocabulary.
They want to speak better, they want to understand more, they want to learn more new vocabulary but they don’t actually do anything concrete to improve it.
It doesn’t really make sense, does it? Why invest time in studying English when you aren’t going to try and remember what you have learned?
So, today, I want to share with you my best 5 tips for learning and remembering new vocabulary. There is no right way to build your vocabulary, you need to find the method that works for you but trust me, if you just try one of these, it will make a big difference to your English learning.
TIP #1 IMPORTANT STUFF
I’ve said it before, but I’ll repeat it here. The best way to remember vocabulary is if it’s relevant to you.
When I first learn a language I like to start with expressions for travelling and eating at restaurants. This is usually my first taste of a language and it feels good to be able to use a few expressions while I’m travelling.
When you start learning more vocabulary, try to focus on what you like talking and learning about.
Let me give you some examples that I’m working on with some clients:
1. With a beginner student, we are currently focusing on vocabulary that helps her talk about the weekend, her family and friends. That’s what interests her.
2. With an advanced student, we are looking at interesting business articles and podcasts which are beneficial for her career and also her English. She is able to find new expressions that she can use when talking to business contacts.
When you are interested in something, you are more likely to enjoy studying it and also remember it!
TIP #2 LEARN WORDS IN CONTEXT
Think about the word “deal”. It has many meanings depending on the context.
Try to write down full sentences using the word. If you just write down “deal” in your notebook you probably won’t remember how to use it.
Start with what you know or what you have seen. How many expressions do you know that use the word “deal”?
Write down full sentences:
– Let’s make a deal! We can find a way to agree.
– I dealt out the cards at the poker match.
– I have had to deal with a lot of problems this month.
Take it to the next step.
Look up “deal” in the dictionary to see more examples and usages. I like the Cambridge English Dictionary.
You can view the results for “deal” here: DEAL – Cambridge Dictionary
Look it up on this great website: Wordincontext.com
You can see examples of the word being used in, yes, context!
Or even easier, just type the word into Google and see what comes up!
TIP #3 STIMULATE YOUR CREATIVE SIDE
It may not be your thing, but I try to stimulate my students to be creative to help them remember vocabulary.
Take an expression like: “rock the boat”. (cause unnecessary problems)
Try drawing a boat and some people looking worried on board.
Don’t you think it’s a fun way to try to remember the expression? It certainly stimulates my visual memory and I enjoy drawing, even if I’m not very good at it.
I’m also a big fan of mind-mapping groups of vocabulary.
If you want to learn more about mind-mapping, here is a great article on how to use it for learning a language:
TIP #4 MIX IT UP
This morning I went to the gym for a stretching class.This week they have a new instructor while the other one is away on holidays.
The class was great! She had a completely different way of doing the class and I felt like it was much more effective. I really enjoyed it.
Change can be a good thing.
Just like learning a language, you don’t want to do the same thing every day.
There are so many different ways to interact with English and find new vocabulary inspiration.
Mix it up!
Try podcasts, Youtube videos, news articles, books, songs, vocabulary apps…the list goes on!
TIP #5 KEEP IT SIMPLE
Don’t go crazy!
You can’t remember every new word you see and immediately.
Try learning 3-5 new expressions a week. Yes, only 3 to 5.
Write them down.
Write them down in sentences.
Draw a picture to remember them.
Try to use them when writing or speaking.
So many times I see Youtube videos with long lists of vocabulary to learn. Seriously, who is going to remember all that? Take a few words, ones you like, and make them yours!