The English Coach
3 ways you can improve your vocabulary
Updated: May 13, 2022
"𝐈 𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐥𝐢𝐳𝐞 𝐈'𝐦 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐚 '𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐥' 𝐁𝟐 𝐥𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐥 𝐬𝐭𝐮𝐝𝐞𝐧𝐭. 𝐇𝐨𝐰 𝐜𝐚𝐧 𝐈 𝐦𝐨𝐯𝐞 𝐚𝐰𝐚𝐲 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐦 𝐮𝐬𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐚𝐦𝐞 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐝𝐬 𝐫𝐞𝐩𝐞𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐝𝐥𝐲 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐢𝐦𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐯𝐞 𝐦𝐲 𝐯𝐨𝐜𝐚𝐛𝐮𝐥𝐚𝐫𝐲?"
One of my students asked me this question the other day, and I wanted to share my answer with you should you have the same problem.
How can I improve my vocabulary?
Firstly, I need you to understand that it will be difficult to move away from a habit that has taken years to create. Until now, you have been accustomed to using the same vocabulary that has served you well. You were able to communicate, understand others and deal with most situations likely to arise whilst traveling in an area where English is spoken.
Now, you understand that you need more. You want to present clear, detailed descriptions of a wider range of subjects related to your field of interest and explain your viewpoint with a higher degree of spontaneity, feeling more confident and professional.
This is the dilemma most intermediate-level students find themselves in when they start using English at work. In these types of contexts, you often find the need to expand your vocabulary and understand more complex conversations but often don't have the time to study.
How can you improve your vocabulary if you're learning on your own or not taking English lessons and don't have much time?
Here are 3 suggestions I have for you.
𝘋e𝘷𝘦𝘭𝘰𝘱 𝘢 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘥𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘩𝘢𝘣𝘪𝘵. Vocabulary building is almost effortless when you encounter words in context. Use apps that you can carry around with you on your mobile phone.
𝘗𝘭𝘢𝘺 𝘷𝘰𝘤𝘢𝘣𝘶𝘭𝘢𝘳𝘺 𝘨𝘢𝘮𝘦𝘴. These are a fun way to learn new words. There are many you can play whenever you have 5/10 minutes free in between meetings.
𝘗𝘳𝘢𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘤𝘦 using new vocabulary in an actual sentence you may use at work or whenever you speak English. Observe how your colleagues are using the language, take notes, and try to use the same language yourself.
Whenever you encounter new vocabulary, ask yourself how the word is being used. Notice the words around it and try to understand the grammatical role the word is playing within the sentence. Is it a noun? Is it a verb? Is it an adjective? Is it an adverb? Is the word formal or informal? How is it pronounced?
Look the word up in a dictionary and see other examples of the word in use. Would you be able to use the word in a sentence of your own?
Here are two online resources that can help you learn vocabulary better:
www.dictionary.com on this website, you'll find the phonetic respelling of the word.
The phonetic respelling will show the stressed syllable in bold and it may be easier to understand the sounds you need to make to pronounce the word properly.
You can also see the difficulty level of the word: Elementary Level, in this case.
2. Another great online resource to help improve your vocabulary is www.youglish.com.
This site will search for videos in which people use the word you're looking for. Moreover, you can filter your search by selecting the English variants you're more interested in learning: British English, American English, Australian English, and many others.
𝗧𝗢𝗢 𝗕𝗨𝗦𝗬? There are many ways reading can take up merely 15 minutes a day. Here are just a few apps I've used with my students that can help you.
The first one I recommend is 𝐅𝐋𝐔𝐄𝐍𝐓𝐔. This app gives you access to real-life language through video. You can make flashcards and play games. I love it for learning German, but it costs Euro 20 a month. Here's a link for you to use if you decide to join: https://bit.ly/3DcWbjm
The second app that I recommend is 𝗕𝗟𝗜𝗡𝗞𝗜𝗦𝗧. This app, not actually designed for language learners, offers book summaries of many popular self-improvement books. There is both a paid and free option. Blinkist will share one free book a day if you use the free option. If you subscribe, you have access to almost all the book summaries in their library. Here is a link for this app: https://www.blinkist.com/
The third app I enjoy is 𝐕𝐨𝐜𝐚𝐛𝐮𝐥𝐚𝐫𝐲.𝐜𝐨𝐦. This website is a dictionary for learning where you can sign up for a word of the day email 📧 newsletter, play word games and create your vocabulary lists. Here is the link to the app download: https://www.vocabulary.com/app/
The key to using any of these or other applications to help you develop your vocabulary is *𝐂𝐎𝐍𝐒𝐈𝐒𝐓𝐄𝐍𝐂𝐘*. Use them as regularly as you can within your schedule, but routinely.
Does that make sense to you?
Let me know in the comments below:
𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐪𝐮𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐢𝐦𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐯𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐯𝐨𝐜𝐚𝐛𝐮𝐥𝐚𝐫𝐲 𝐰𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞 𝐦𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐚𝐧𝐬𝐰𝐞𝐫?