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3 Best Ways to Improve your English Vocabulary

The not-so-secret formula

Many people ask how they can improve their English vocabulary. Knowing more words and how to use them appropriately will give you control of the language and will allow you to speak more fluently.

So how do you learn more words? Well, the only way to learn new vocabulary is to see, hear, speak and write new words every day.

  • Seeing new words as you read gives you the visual memory of the word and how it is spelled.
  • Hearing new words as you listen helps you with understanding how they sound.
  • Speaking new words helps you with fluency, pronunciation, and memory, as does writing.

Therefore, the best way to really improve your English vocabulary is to read, listen, speak and write. Below are some tips on how you can do this in a methodical way to grow your vocabulary and increase your knowledge and use of English words.

Create word clusters

Get yourself a small notebook or journal to keep with you. You can organize it either thematically or linguistically.

Words according to the theme

Thematic organisation means that when you focus on words with the same or similar theme. For example, words related to the environment or natural world, business, education, the home, music, food, weather, etc. For example, if you are interested in the theme of family, you would cluster all of the words related to family, such as mother, father, son, daughter, uncle, aunt grand-mother, grand-father, niece, nephew, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, step-brother, step-sister, cousin, etc. Clustering words under themes or groups will help you associated them in your brain and therefore recall them more easily when you need to.

Word according to forms

Linguistic organisation means that when you learn a new word, you can also learn the variations of that word. For example, strength is a noun. If you cluster the word linguistically, you will include all forms of that word. For example, “strengthen” is the verb, “strong” is the adjective, and “strongly” is the adverb. Now you have four new words instead of just one!

Expose yourself to words

To create your word clusters, you need words. Where do you get words from? Well, from reading and listening. Let’s start with reading.

Read, read and read

Some people love; some people hate it, but the more you read, the more words you’ll be exposed to. This is essential for increasing your English fluency. Reading doesn’t have to be boring. You can read blogs or broadsheet articles, magazines, books or journals like the New York Times. Or you can read websites like National Geographic to learn about people, cultures, animals, and places around the world. Read about things that interest you: Food, gardening, fashion, celebrity news, economics, science, politics, etc. As you read, you will discover new words in context. You can infer the meaning of new words from the context of the sentence. If not, then look the word up in an English to English dictionary and then add them to your word clusters!

Listen to English speakers

One way to do this is by listening to podcasts. You can search by topic to listen to podcasts that interest you – politics, fashion, society, etc. These are good because they are usually conversational which means that they replicate the kinds of conversations you will hear in real life. Another source for listening is lectures. These are more formal, but also very useful because they will include a lot of new English vocabulary and will follow an organised structure which makes it easier for you to follow. When you hear a word that you don’t know, or have difficulty pronouncing, play it again and sound it out. As you watch, you can select English sub-titles. This will help you to see the spelling of new words that you hear in the talks and associate the pronunciation with the spelling. Then you should practice saying that word over and over.

Learn a word a day

Check the English Learner’s Dictionary word of the day for a new word each day with the definition, pronunciation, word form and example sentences. Add them to your word journal and try to use each one daily.

Use so you don’t lose it

The saying goes: “use it or lose it”. This is true of vocabulary. When you learn a new word, you must practice using it in writing and speaking. Doing this will help your brain to keep the word as part of its vocabulary. So, write the words in your journal, repeat them out loud to yourself and then use them in conversation and in writing.

Speak like a champion

Incorporate new words into your daily conversation. When you learn a new word from reading or listening, keep it in your mind and find a way to slip it into conversations. You can do this with a client, colleague, friend, or classmate. Also, use social or everyday situations to try out your new words. Another way to speak is to join meet-up or conversation groups with other English learners. If you do this with one word each day, in one year you will have learned and used 365 new words. You will feel like a champion!

Write to remember

Writing in English is a great way to incorporate the new words you learn into your English vocabulary. It is also a great way to imprint these new words into your brain and make them part of your mental word bank. When you add a word to your word cluster (see point 1), write it in a sentence. If you learn different forms of the word (noun, verb, adjective, adverb), write four sentences, each one with a different form of the word.

For example, let’s take the word strength and its different forms:

“It takes a lot of mental strength to learn a new language.”
“You can strengthen your language skills by practicing every day.”
Strong language skills come from practice.”
“I strongly believe that you can do this!”

It’s all worth it!

Learning new English vocabulary can be challenging, but it can also be fun! For every new word you learn and use, your English vocabulary will grow and your confidence will increase. So, remember the magic formula: read, listen, speak and write!

Written by: Jamal Abilmona

All Comments 22
  • Irshad Ahmad shah says:

    These methods are remarkable i think so.
    It would be very fruitful and less time consuming process.I think this is very good and helpful.

    • Thank you so much for these kind words and support!

      People like you make all our jobs so rewarding!

      Have a beautiful week,
      Olivia, & The E2 Tea,

  • That was great! Reading continually is quite effective. I personally have this experience, when I stop reading, I will forget words. For those who like me, we really need some application like “WordUp” that makes you to read &read &read. Wordup contains lots of short movies, text, synonyms,and any thing we need for learning vocabularies. I want to recommend it. That is really helpful.

  • I try to use new words each day. For me at least, if I use the word I’m able to memorize it much better. I would say over this last two months, I’ve been able to learn at least five words a day and I’ve added well over 100 words to my vocabulary by using “WordUp”.
    It’s a very useful app, which I suggest to everyone.

    • We LOVE when you all share your own experiences with us and each other!

      There’s no doubt: WE ARE STRONGER TOGETHER!

      Thank you for your comment!

      Olivia, & The E2 Family 🙂

  • So useful. Thank you so much! They properly work when we are trying to study for some special exams for instans. Academic writing really drive me crazy!!!! I really need such tips to improve myself in writnig. In my opinion one of the most important way to achieve good grades in writing is learning words and absolutely have good knowledge about when we need to use them or how we should use them indeed.I personally need text, sentences or even movies which include meaning of that special almost hard word and need to undrestand when/how I can use it.
    Recently I have found an application which is really helpful. I can say it’ an “all in one application”.It contains lots of movies, text, synonyms and etc.”WordUp” is an amazing app that you can enjoy your studying with. For those who want to see “Wordup” have a look at .

  • Hello,

    I loved your post . It’s a really helpful post. I love reading and always ready to learn new vocab. and yes when I leaned new words then I used them in a sentence so I don’t forget and got an idea how to use them.

  • Florence Heinrich says:

    These are tips that work! I have a hard time remembering new words and have trouble using them in conversation. That’s why I quickly forget them.
    For me, the right option is to learn words by topics and then practice speaking. Without using the words in speech, they don’t stick in my vocabulary.

  • Marcio Wilford says:

    Oh! Man! your article is very good. To expand my vocabulary I write down 3 or 4 word a week and glue it on my bedroom door. It works a lot.

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