Do you find it difficult to remember new words in English?
English has the largest vocabulary of any language in the world. Whether you are a beginner or an advanced speaker of English, you are always growing your vocabulary. Always encountering tons of new words. And new ways to say words that you already know.
The richer your vocabulary, the more fluently you can speak the language, so you should be learning new words every day.
But when you don’t live in an English speaking country you don’t have nearly as many opportunities to expand your vocabulary in your everyday life. You must create these opportunities for yourself.
These nine suggestions, when practiced together every day, will help you to greatly increase your English speaking capabilities, whether you’ve just started speaking English, or even if you’re fluent in it as your second language:
- Keep a word journal
- Real Life English Daily Expressions
- Word of the Day
- TV Shows
- Speaking to other English speakers
- Other Lifestyle English tools
- RLE’s newsletter
English has the largest vocabulary of any language, which makes it very rich and colorful. This is because it has large influence from Latin languages (especially French), Germanic languages (like Dutch, Danish, German and Frisian), and Celtic languages. English is always growing in vocabulary, as it borrows from other languages as well (for example people sometimes substitute “please” for “por favor” because of Spanish influence).
The famous writer, Shakespeare, alone added more than 1,700 words to the English language.
The Internet and technology advances are also having huge influences on English, creating new words every year like YOLO (You Only Live Once), tweeting and meme.
Try picking up an English thesaurus (dictionary of synonyms) or looking here. Almost any word you choose has a dozen variations that mean more or less the same thing. In a language like English, a rich vocabulary becomes an important resource, especially when writing.
This three part series of articles will help you with tips on how you can improve you vocabulary daily, so you can start speaking more like a native. Part one will look at the first few ways that you can enrich your vocabulary.
Here we go:
1. Keep a Word Journal
When I was studying abroad, I was constantly bombarded (hit) by words I didn’t know, and I couldn’t possibly remember them all. I found that keeping a pocket-sized notebook on me at all times is a very useful technique to remember the new words that I would hear. When I didn’t write them down, I’d find myself asking how to say certain words over and over again. My friends would even tell me that they’d already taught me that word. And no one likes to be annoying!
Forgetting words is a pain that you can easily avoid.
Even if you aren’t living in a country where you’re surrounded by the target language, this is still a great idea. Commit to writing down five new words every day, and then review the words every day until you find that they have been integrated into your vocabulary. In part three, I’ll tell you tool that will help A LOT with this.
If your English is at a more advanced level, I recommend that you don’t simply write down the translation of the new words in your language. Instead, try to draw a picture, write a synonym, note something that will remind you of the new word’s definition, or give an example sentence.
For example, if one of your new words is seagull, you could draw a picture of it, you could write “bird”, you could write “beach”, or you could write “the seagull eats fish out of the ocean”. By forcing yourself not to translate, you foster a more fluent mindset (attitude).
Your word journal is a great strategy in addition to these other techniques. Let them be the inspiration for your five words each day.
2. Real Life English Daily Expressions
We post interesting words or idioms on the RealLife English Instagram page. This can be one of your five words each day.
We then talk about them in each week’s RealLife English ESL Podcast, released every Tuesday.
These are great because they are defined in English, with an example in English, and a picture that hopefully can help you remember the word or phrase better.
These are also aimed to be expressions and words that you won’t learn in a normal English class, so through their use you can sound more fluent (and like a native speaker).
3. Word of the Day
Many dictionary websites have a word of the day daily as well. For more advanced English speakers this is a great way for you to enrich your vocabulary and make your writing less repetitive.
For example, on Dictionary.com, Merriam-Webster, and Oxford, you can subscribe to and have the Word of the Day emailed to you, or subscribe to it in the RSS feed. These are also a good resource because rather than translating the words into your native tongue you read a definition and synonyms in English. Right here are another potential three words per day that you can add to your word journal!
I hope this article has been useful to you. Now go get yourself a notebook and write on the cover VOCABULARY. Try and challenge yourself to find five new words EVERY DAY for 30 days.
If you do this, you’ll be able to learn 150 new words in just a month!
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How many words do you know in English? Take this free test here, and let it inspire you to learn more!