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ESL learning: How to Learn Vocabulary

Really, almost all of my students have asked me how they can learn more vocabulary. This is a great question because many times good vocabulary is more important for communication than good grammar. I have some tips to help you learn vocabulary.


So what tips do you have?

1. Read, read and then read some more. Read things of interest to you. Read many different things. Read lots of authentic materials. To learn more about authentic materials, see my other blog ESL learning: Learning Native English.

By reading, you are learning words in context. You are practicing your guessing skills and you are learning how to move words around and play with them grammatically.

2. Make notes. Be sure to circle or underline any words you do not know, look them up and write all new language down in a vocabulary notebook. Just the act of writing alone is enough to put the words into your long term memory and you will be able to remember them more easily.

3. Find synonyms and antonyms for new words. Do not forget to write them in your vocabulary notebook.

4. Memorization by association means you have learned new words because they remind you of other words in your own language.

5. Make as many word groups & collocations as possible with the new words. New words are always used with other words in pairs, phrases or in sentences. How many ways can you use new words?

6. Write more sentences, stories, paragraphs, letters and emails using the new language. Try different things and do not be afraid to be creative. Writing is a great way to remember new words. Writing puts these words in your long term memory.

7. Read a dictionary every day. Try setting a goal of 5, 10 or 15 words a day. Also, use the dictionary for any words you do not know. Do you have a small dictionary and vocabulary notebook with you all the time?

8. Use online resources like ETO’s Facebook page and Twitter and learn a little every day. Also, do not forget about YouTube. You can find all our links below this blog.

9. Make flashcards to help you practice daily. An excel spreadsheet is another option. Don’t forget, that writing helps you remember the words!

10. Open your mind and read and discuss topics that you normally would avoid. Variety is very important.

11. Stay aware and be alert to any new words that may be on advertisements, commercials, brochures, newspapers or anywhere else. Always be searching and making notes mentally and on paper.

12.  Practice, practice and then practice more. There is no substitute for actually using what you have learned. Use the new words as soon as you learn them. Use them in writing and speaking immediately.

13. Get a professional teacher. If you would like to try a vocabulary, pronunciation and conversation class with a professional teacher, feel free to book a free trial lesson with ETO today!


Parting Words

Just be sure to speak, read, write and listen to new vocabulary as much as possible.

By: Luke 

ETO American English teacher

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