10 interesting ways to learn new words of any language
As a language learner, you work hard to expand your vocabulary. You plough through new words every day, make long lists of words and practice with flashcards. However, when it comes to speaking, the new words seem to fall out of your head, so you resort to your old friends – words you already know and have used many times – again and again.
Remembering and using new words in speech is often a challenge for language learners.
“How do I improve my vocabulary?” is probably one of the biggest questions asked in English Language. The quest for new words really is a widespread one, and it’s often thought to be quite tasking. It shouldn’t be.
We’ve come up with some pretty easy ways to improve and expand the list of words you use in English.
Why expand your knowledge and use of words? What benefits could you possibly gain from improving your vocabulary? The possibilities and benefits are limitless. First off, when you learn new words daily you’ll be able to communicate better, your speaking and writing become considerably better. Whatever you’re trying to pass across will be put more clearly and using less words. People will also understand you more easily, and you will understand more. Learning new words everyday is a fun activity — and one you can even do with the people around you. Challenge a friend, family member, or roommate to learn new words each day with you. Here’s how!
10 Ways To Learn New Words In Any Language
Here are ten strategies to help you make words stick in your mind
Read, read, and read.
The more you read — especially novels, but also magazines and newspapers — the more words you’ll learn. As you read and uncover new words, try to work out the meaning from the sentence as well as from looking up the definition in a dictionary. Write down new words. Your vocabulary will sky rocket!
Keep a dictionary and thesaurus handy.
Use whatever versions you prefer — in print, software, or online. A good quality dictionary is one hundred times better than google translate, and electronic ones are quick! When you uncover a new word, look it up in the dictionary to get both its pronunciation and its meaning(s). Next, go to the thesaurus and find similar words and phrases — and their opposites (synonyms and antonyms).
Build your own dictionary.
It’s a very good idea to write down the new words you discover. Just by writing them down you will start to recognize the words when you read. Plus, keeping a dictionary of all your new words will give you the confidence to learn even more words — especially when you can see how many new words you’ve already learnt. You can also use them in sentences.
Additionally, instead of keeping these sentences to yourself, you can use them in writing games such as the Folding Story. This is an online version of the popular writing game where each player writes one line of a story and passes it on to another player to add to it. In the online version, each player gets just three minutes to write a line and scores points by the number of likes they receive for their lines.
Learn a word a day.
Using a word a day calendar, a website, or develop your own list of words to learn. This is a great technique many people use to learn new words. Don’t feel you must learn a new word every day.
Play some games.
Word games that challenge you and help you discover new meanings and new words are a great tool for expanding your vocabulary. Examples include crossword puzzles, anagrams, word jumble, Scrabble, and Boggle. The perception of a challenge stimulates the brain. Games that help you discover new meanings and new words are a fun way to expand your vocabulary. You can find tons of quizzes and games on Quizlet.com
Engage in conversations.
Simply talking with other people can help you learn discover new words. As with reading, once you hear a new word, remember to jot it down so that you can study it later — and then slowly add the new word to your vocabulary.
You hold the key to a better vocabulary. By using the tips from this article, you should be well on your way to discovering and learning new words to expand your vocabulary and strengthen your use of the English language. Finally, remember that you must practice putting your new words into your writing and speaking so that you continue to remember them.
You could join an online community of language learners such as The Polyglot Club, where you can ask questions and practice with native speakers from all over the world.
No random words
We remember what is relevant to us. Making lists or index cards with random words is not usually an effective way to remember and use these words later. Word lists and index cards are great for revisiting vocabulary you have already learned, but to make a new word stick in your mind, try linking it with something meaningful to you. You will be more likely to remember a new word if it is used in a context you find interesting or are passionate about. For example, if you are a football fan, there are more chances you will remember the word ‘unstoppable’ in a sentence, such as ‘Messi is unstoppable’, rather than just as a single word or in a generic sentence, e.g. ‘Some people are unstoppable’.
Sites like the The British Council LearnEnglish website have tons of interactive videos, games and podcasts. No matter what topic interests you, you will always find something there. There are also discussion boards under activities, so you can share your ideas with other learners.
Learn in chunks and scripts
We retain words better when we learn them in small ‘chunks’ (i.e. small phrases that combine several words) and ‘scripts’ (i.e. typical dialogues). For example, instead of memorizing the phrasal verb ‘to come up with’, memorize it as part of the phrase ‘to come up with an idea’. This way, you make sure that you know how to actually use this verb in at least one sentence. Similarly, instead of memorizing 33 ways of saying ‘hello’, learn it in a script, such as: ‘Hello, how are you? – I’m fine, thank you’.
If you don’t mind learning with video, TV and films, try FluentU. There are interactive captions, so if you tap on any word, you will see an image, definition and useful examples. You can also find other interesting resources featuring words in context. For example, the ‘SpeakSmart’ collection on Instagram has different scenes from popular television series giving examples of particular words and phrases in use. If you love reading, try reading short texts, such as cartoon strips. There are many comics available online, including those for language learners, like Grammarman, which you can also listen to while you read.
Dive deeper into etymology
Before you look up the word in the dictionary, try to guess what it means. Look at its root, suffixes and prefixes. If you know a few languages, you will start recognising new words that share roots. Researching the origin of new words may help you retain new words better.
For example, did you know that the word ‘tea’ comes from Chinese ‘t’e’ (Amoy dialect), which corresponds to Mandarin ‘ch’a’? The English word ‘tea’ (just as in French, Spanish or Germqan) derives from the Amoy form (through the Dutch East India Company that introduced the leaves to Europe). Meanwhile, Russian chai (just as in Serbian, Persian, Greek, Arabic and Turkish) all came overland from the Mandarin form. Now, whenever you hear ‘tea’ or ‘chai’, you will see a lovely cup of steaming tea and know how it got to the country.
If you are looking for the origin of idioms or individual words, the Online Etymology Dictionary may be quite helpful.
Try to create a funny phrase or story that will strengthen the connection between the word and its meaning (known as a mnemonic). I find this technique especially effective when I need to recall words that are hard to spell.
Here are a few mnemonics created by my students:
‘career’ – car and beer
‘island’ – is land
‘to lose’ – uh-oh, I’ve lost an ‘o’
There are a lot of mnemonics available online, such as the ‘mems’ created by users in Memrise, but you will have a better chance of remembering the word if you invent your own.
Now that you’ve discovered how to learn new words in any language and improve your vocabulary, check out these new words in english.