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Ask a Teacher: How to Learn More Words


Ask a Teacher: How to Learn More Words
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In English, we have a saying that goes, “Use it or lose it.” It means that if you do not continue to use a skill, you might lose the ability to do so.

We can say this about language learning, including learning new words. If you do not use the new words often, you might forget them.

Our reader Banin has a question today. Here it is:

Question

Hi. How can I improve my vocabulary? – Banin

Answer:

Hello Banin,

Great question! The answer will help many English learners. Here are four things you can do:

Read, read, read

Read...a lot! Look for news stories, websites, magazines and books on subjects that you enjoy. While reading, try to guess the meanings of new words from their context. Then, you can check the meanings in a paper dictionary or online.

If there are television shows or films that you love in English, watch them with English subtitles to learn new words and hear how we say them.

Write about it

But, don’t just read. Write! A great way to practice what you read is to write about it. For example, if you read a web story about the best fitness apps of 2018, write about it.

Another thing you can write about what is you did today. If you spent time with a friend or family member, went to an event, had a delicious meal or did something else, write about it!

Word form charts can help you learn the many forms of a new word.
Word form charts can help you learn the many forms of a new word.

Learn word forms

Here’s another great technique:

When you learn a new word, learn its other forms. For example, the word “sleepy” is an adjective. But it has noun, verb and adverb forms. You can make a word form chart in a note book or wireless device and write a sentence example for each form.

Use word association

Another powerful memory tool is word association: using your imagination to create mental images linked to new words. For example, when I say, "tasty” what food image do you see in your mind? Keep that food image in your mind and always mentally connect it to the word “tasty.” Then, the next time you try to remember the word "tasty," the mental image will appear.

And that’s Ask a Teacher.

I’m Alice Bryant.

Do you have a question for Ask a Teacher? Write to us in the comments area. And, be sure to tell us what country you are from.

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Words in This Story

vocabularyn. the words that make up a language

contextn. words that are used with a certain word or phrase and that help to explain its meaning

subtitlen. words that appear on the screen during a movie, video or television show and that are translations of what the actors are saying

practicev. to do something again and again in order to become better at it.

appn. a computer program that performs a special function

chartn. information in the form of a table or diagram

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