How To Improve Your Vocabulary

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How To Improve Your Vocabulary

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.

Difficulty: Average
Time Required: from 30 minutes to 3 or more hours

Here's How:

  1. 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.

  1. 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!

I don't know what I'd do without my dishwasher. I can't imagine having to wash all those dishes by hand!

  • dryer - device or appliance for removing moisture, as by hot air

Honey, where's the dryer? I've just taken a shower and I need to dry my hair.

  • fan - device for creating a current of air or a breeze

I really don't like using the air-conditioning. I much prefer this fan to keep things cool.

  • freezer - one that freezes, as a thermally insulated cabinet

He goes shopping and buys enough food to put into his freezer for a month.

  • furnace - structure or apparatus for generating heat

Could you check if the furnace is working? It seems so cold in here. It's a good idea to put a humidifier in the room for young babies when they have a cold.

  • icebox - insulated chest or box in which ice is put to cool

We have an icebox out in the backyard where we keep the beer. Feel free to help yourself!

  • iron - instrument used for taking the wrinkles out of a piece of clothing through heat

The production of modern materials such as permanent press has almost made the iron a thing of the past.

  • oven - chamber or enclosed compartment usually used to cook in, as in a stove

I like cooking potatoes in the oven instead of frying them.

  • refrigerator - appliance for maintaining foods at a low temperature, or producing ice

We keep the bread in the refrigerator.

I prefer using a shaver instead of a razor.

  • 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

Advertising - 1

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.

advertisement - ad

market coverage


mass advertising

advertising - publicity

mass communication

advertising agency

mass media - media

advertising agent

media buyer

advertising budget

media buying

advertising campaign

media buying agency

advertising columns

media department

advertising consultant

media planner

advertising dealer

media planning

advertising effectiveness

media strategy

advertising expenses


advertising in the yellow pages


advertising man - adman

mural advertising

advertising manager

neon sign

advertising media

news agency

advertising planner


advertising poster (GB) - advertising board (US)

number of copies

advertising rate

opinion leaders

advertising support

opinion maker

advertising to sales ratio

opinion poll

announcement - press release

order card

art director

outdoor sign



audience composition

peak time

average audience


average circulation

pocket edition

billboards (GB) - hoardings (US)

point of purchase advertising (POPA)

billsticking - billposting

point of sale material

bleed page

popularity rating - audience


poster (GB) - board (US)

body copy - copy



press agent

brand image

press cutting - clippings


press office

  1. Word Formation Charts

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.

Concept noun

Personal noun






to be absent






accuser / accused










to become addicted







admired / admiring




































authoritarian / authoritative


  1. Visual Dictionaries

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

  1. Learn Collocations

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




أعلى النموذج

a break

a leg

a headache

a window

a haircut

an exam

a seat


the law

a holiday

a taxi

a world record

someone's heart

a bath

someone's temperature

a relationship

a look

a promise

a chance

a drink

the rules



a habit

the ice

a rest

a rest

someone's place

the news to someone

a problem

  1. 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.


  1. Use vocabulary learning methods to focus quickly on the vocabulary YOU need to study.

  2. Don't make random lists of new words. Try to group words in themes. This will help you memorize new words more quickly.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

Difficulty: Average

Time Required: Varies

Here's How:

  1. Choose a subject area that interests you very much.

  2. Write a short introduction to the subject trying to use as many vocabulary words concerning the subject as possible.

  3. Using your introduction, arrange the principle ideas concerning the subject into a vocabulary tree.

  4. To create a vocabulary tree, put the subject at the center of a piece of paper.

  5. Around the central subject, put the principle areas relating to the subject. Example - verbs, descriptive adjectives, where, etc.

  6. In each of these categories, write the appropriate vocabulary. If you need to, write sub-categories.

  7. Create the same vocabulary tree in your native language

  8. 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.

  9. Rewrite your introductory essay concerning the subject taking advantage of the new vocabulary learned.

  10. To make this vocabulary active, practice reading your essay aloud until you can present it by memory.

  11. Ask a friend or fellow classmate to listen to your presentation and ask you questions about the subject.


  1. 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.

  2. Be patient with yourself, it takes time for this process to work.

  3. 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.

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