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How to improve your vocabulary

How to improve your vocabulary

Posted: 22 Jul 2019

Looking for tips to improve vocabulary? The key is to regularly learn new words. Most people struggle to increase their vocabulary as they do not engage in activities that expose them to new vocabulary after our formative years. Many people mistakenly believe that we learn most of our new vocabulary words through conversation. This isn’t the case for most of us. We learn more new words from reading. But reading alone isn’t enough – you may see a new word or two and understand the meaning through context, but unless you practice using the word, you won’t remember it.


So, what makes a word memorable? Take the time to look it up if you don’t know what it means and use it in another sentence so that it makes sense and is embedded in your memory! It’s fun to use new words this way. This does take time and requires a vocabulary learning discipline. Repetition is also important. If you keep repeating the word daily, the brain will absorb the repeated information. Learn Collocations. These are words that often or always go together.  

Synonyms are words that have similar meanings. An antonym is a word that has the opposite meaning. When learning new vocabulary, try to find at least two synonyms and two antonyms for each word. This is important when learning adjectives or adverbs. 

Vocabulary trees are a good idea to help provide context. Once you've mapped out a few vocabulary trees, you'll discover yourself thinking in vocabulary groups. Create a list of vocabulary themes and include a definition and an example sentence for each new item. Learning by theme emphasises words that are related. This will help you memorise new vocabulary because of the connections between these words and your chosen theme.

Use specific vocabulary lists to help you prepare for the type of vocabulary you need for work, school, or hobbies. 

Make use of a visual dictionary. A picture is worth a thousand words. It's also very helpful for learning precise vocabulary. 

To summarise:

  • Read every day and learn root words 
  • Learn one new word a day and try to use it as often as possible 
  • Use a new word immediately after you learn it
  • Group new words in themes. This will help you memorise new words more quickly
  • Always add context by writing out a few example sentences using new vocabulary
  • Use a thesaurus to look up new words or a visual dictionary
  • Before you begin your day, choose five words and try to use each word during conversations throughout the day
  • Play word games like Scrabble to broaden your vocabulary


If you add these suggestions to your daily rituals, your vocabulary skills will begin to grow quickly. It is never too late to start now!


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