english vocabularyGrowing your English vocabulary is key to improving all of your language skills: reading, writing, speaking, and listening. But how do you start? Different students prefer different techniques, and a combination of techniques is best. Check out this list and find a new way to learn. In a future post, we’ll discuss how to best study and practice your new vocabulary so that it becomes a natural part of your English.

  1. Record the new words you encounter every day, both the ones you read and the ones you hear. Ask for definitions or look them up in an English dictionary. A pocket-sized notebook is a convenient way to always be ready for new words.
  2. Learn word roots, beginnings, and endings. Many English words share parts with the same meaning, especially words with Greek or Latin origins. For example, “hydro” means “water” and is found in many English words like dehydrate, hydroelectric, and hydraulics. Studying a list of English word roots, beginnings, and endings will unlock a huge amount of vocabulary.
  3. Study word lists that have been designed by experts to give you a good core vocabulary. For beginning to low-intermediate student, try the 2000-word General Service List. High-intermediate and advanced students should already be familiar with these words and move on to the 570 word families of the Academic Word list, selected by their frequency in academic texts.
  4. Learn vocabulary by theme. Are you interested in baseball? Look at how many resources you can find by searching Google for “baseball vocabulary”. You can use the same easy method to discover vocabulary lists for topics from economics to coffee.
  5. Study word families. For example, if you learn the verb negotiate, it’s easy to add the noun negotiation and the adjective negotiable and nonnegotiable. A good English dictionary lists other parts of speech for many words.

Your turn: Where do you look for new words to learn?

[Photo credit: akira_1972]