How To Learn Vocabulary

When it comes to learning a new language, vocabulary is key. But how, exactly, do you learn new words? This article provides some methods you can use.

Reading Is Best
After years of studying how people learn languages, experts have discovered one thing:

The best way to learn vocabulary is by reading!

Think of how you learned new words while you were growing up. You discovered many of them while reading. This is the best way to learn new words when you’re studying a new language. The more you read, the more words you will discover. Not only that, if you read often, you will begin to see the same words again and again, and this will help them become a natural part of your vocabulary.

Reading for pleasure is a way to make sure you enjoy and keep at it. Don’t make reading into a job; make it fun! If you like sports, read sports; if you like fashion, find a fashion blog you like. The topic is unimportant: just find what you like and read it! More reading tips are available here.

Study Methods for Learning New Words
In addition to reading, there are some study methods you can use. Use these methods ONLY if they are comfortable for you; otherwise, reading is probably enough.
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  • Word Lists. Some people like to write down words they learn (with or without translations). If this works for you, then do it! Just review your list often so you don’t forget.
  • Put Words in Groups. It can be a good idea to group words around a central idea, e.g. animals, parts of a building, talking about movies, etc. This can help you talk about important topics.
  • Learn Synonyms and Antonyms. A synonym is a word that has the same meaning; an antonym is a word that means the opposite. For example, happy and glad are synonyms; happy and sad are antonyms. When you learn a new word, learning its synonyms and antonyms will build up your vocabulary quickly.
  • Word Games. Crossword puzzles, word searches, and other language games help you build vocabulary while you have fun.
  • Use What You Know. As soon as you learn a new word, start using it! Use it in your own speaking and writing, and even in your own thoughts. Adding new words into your daily vocabulary will make them stick in your mind.
  • Repeat, repeat, repeat. Researchers say you must see and hear a word 10-20 times for it to become part of your vocabulary. Don’t worry if you forget a word you once knew. If you keep reading and hearing the word, you will eventually learn it!

What do YOU think? Do you worry about learning vocabulary? Do you have any methods you like to use? Do you have any questions? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

2 thoughts on “How To Learn Vocabulary

  1. Thanks for your post. I found the way of learning vocabulary through reading is so true. I really like your methods of learning new words- I will use this for myself. From my own experience, my writing skill also improved when I did more reading. Because the more I read, the more grammatical structures & vocabularies I had had.

    • Thanks, Panda! I’m glad your experience confirms what so many studies have shown. And you’re right: people who read a lot also tend to write much better. Thank you for your thoughts!

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