There are many ways to improve your vocabulary. When working to improve your vocabulary it's important to know your goals in order to best choose the way in which you want to learn. Reading can be a great way to improve your vocabulary. However, it won't be much help on a vocabulary test next week. Here are a number of methods to help you improve, and expand, your English vocabulary.
Time Required: from 30 minutes to 3 or more hours
Here's How: Vocabulary Trees
Vocabulary trees help provide context. Once you've mapped out a few vocabulary trees, you'll discover yourself thinking in vocabulary groups. When you see a cup your mind will quickly relate such words as knife, fork, late, dishes, etc. This overview to vocabulary trees provides will help you get started. Here is an example of a vocabulary tree.
Create Vocabulary Themes
Create a list of vocabulary themes, include the vocabulary, a definition and an example sentence for each new item. Here is an example of a household appliance vocabulary theme sheet.
Household Appliance Vocabulary
These are appliances we use every day in our house. Each word includes a definition and example sentence:
broiler - device for broiling meat
That steak was done to perfection. Where did you get that boiler? It's fantastic.
can opener - a device to open cans by cutting around the edges of the rim.
Don't open that by hand. Use the can opener!
compactor - device for pressing together; crusher
You'd be surprised at how much garbage the compactor can put into one bag!
stove - device used to provide heat (either electric or gas) to cook food
I really don't know how to cook. About the only thing I can do is boil an egg on the stove.
toaster - device used to toast bread, esp. by exposure to heat
Could you pop this bread into the toaster?
vacuum cleaner - appliance using suction to clean surfaces
I used the vacuum cleaner to clean all the rugs - they really needed it.
Now that you have studied these words, continue to the pronunciation and quiz page. On this page you will find a list of the vocabulary studied and a sound file (using RealPlayer) with the correct pronunciation of the words. Below this you will find a quiz using these words, use each word in the list once to complete the quiz.
Use Technology to Help You
Watching DVDs is a great way to help you understand native speakers of English. Using all the fancy options watching individual scenes can help make DVD use into a vocabulary learning exercise.
Specific Vocabulary Lists
Rather than studying a long list of unrelated vocabulary, use specific vocabulary lists to help you prepare for the type of vocabulary you need for work, school or hobbies. These business vocabulary word lists are great for industry specific vocabulary items.
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The use of this lexical approach is essential for successful language acquisition in English for Specific Purposes. However, teachers are often not equipped with the exact English terminology required in very specific trade sectors. For this reason, core vocabulary sheets go a long way in helping teachers provide adequate materials for students with English for Special Purposes needs.
These core vocabulary reference sheets provide between 150 and 240 key words and phrases for each industry. Each series is divided into three pages that, when combined, form an alphabetical list. In taking this lexical approach to attaining key vocabulary, students should be encouraged to translate the specific words and phrases into their native tongues as each phrase has a very specific translation in each language.
Word formation is one of the keys to success for advanced level ESL learners. Advanced level English exams such as the TOEFL, First Certificate CAE and Proficiency use word formation as one of the key testing elements. These word formation charts provide the concept noun, personal noun, adjective and verb forms of key vocabulary listed in alphabetical order.
to be absent
accuser / accused
to become addicted
admired / admiring
authoritarian / authoritative
A picture is worth a thousand words. It's also very helpful for learning precise vocabulary. There are a number of excellent English learner visual dictionaries for sale. Here is an online version of a visual dictionary dedicated to jobs.
An architect works designing buildings, homes and other structures. Architects draw up blue prints which are used
Teachers instruct a wide range of students. Younger learners are generally called pupils, university age learners are referred to as students. Teachers at
Collocations refer to words that often or always go together. A good example of a collocation is to do your homework. These lists of important verb + noun collocations will help your learn some of the most important.
Collocation Use with Take, Have and Break
Choose which one of the following three verbs goes with the expressions listed below
Use a Corpus
Corpora are huge collections of documents that can track the number of times a word is used. By using a corpora, you can find which words are often used together with target vocabulary words. Combining corpora use with vocabulary trees is a great way to learn key vocabulary for specific vocabulary target areas. You can get started by visiting the British National Corpus.
Tips: Use vocabulary learning methods to focus quickly on the vocabulary YOU need to study.
Don't make random lists of new words. Try to group words in themes. This will help you memorize new words more quickly.
If you have the time, and even if you think you don't have the time, try to add context. Writing a few example sentences using new vocabulary will help you remember the words in context.
Keep a vocabulary notepad at hand whenever you are reading in English
How To Increase Specific Vocabulary
Improving vocabulary skills requires constant attention. This 'how to' focuses on a basic strategy for increasing vocabulary in specific subject areas through the use of a vocabulary tree.
Time Required: Varies
Here's How: Choose a subject area that interests you very much.
Write a short introduction to the subject trying to use as many vocabulary words concerning the subject as possible.
Using your introduction, arrange the principle ideas concerning the subject into a vocabulary tree.
To create a vocabulary tree, put the subject at the center of a piece of paper.
Around the central subject, put the principle areas relating to the subject. Example - verbs, descriptive adjectives, where, etc.
In each of these categories, write the appropriate vocabulary. If you need to, write sub-categories.
Create the same vocabulary tree in your native language
Your native language tree will be much more detailed. Use this native language tree as a reference point to look up new words and fill in your English tree.
Rewrite your introductory essay concerning the subject taking advantage of the new vocabulary learned.
To make this vocabulary active, practice reading your essay aloud until you can present it by memory.
Ask a friend or fellow classmate to listen to your presentation and ask you questions about the subject.
Tips: Remember that vocabulary goes from passive knowledge to active knowledge - this means that you need to repeat a word often before it becomes active vocabulary.
Be patient with yourself, it takes time for this process to work.
Try to always learn vocabulary in groups of words instead of random lists. In this manner, words are related to each other and are more likely to remember over the long-term.