6 ways to REALLY learn vocabulary.

Work smart not hard.

Real fluency in English is about expressing your thoughts clearly,  allowing people to see the subtelties in your ideas and getting across your personality effectively.

To do all that you need a good vocabulary.

If you’ve ever wondered about the fastest and most efficient way to increase your vocabulary then this is the blog post you have been waiting for . . .

1. You actually need to study

This might seem blindingly obvious but so many students of English falsely believe that you can simply soak up new words by chatting to native speakers or watching TV – sure those things help but your vocabulary expansion will be very slow.

The first step is to develop a regular study habit.

2. Make sure your learning is active not passive

So you have a list of new words that you want to learn. You go to the top of the list and read the first word, ‘Yep! I know that one, I know what that means’, on to the next one…You are learning in a passive way. That means you can only recognise the word when you see it or hear it. This method alone will not allow to produce the word in a real conversation when you need it, to do that, you need to study in an active way.

Active learning means reading the word in your language and then generating the word in English. If you want to avoid thinking in your language, you can write a definition of the word in English and then test yourself to see if you can produce the word just by reading the definition.

So, active studying results in active speaking.

3. Study little and often

Don’t bite off more than you can chew – I know you are deadly serious about getting your English to the next level and you are bursting with enthusiasm, but 6 hour marathon sessions are difficult to sustain day after day – you’ll soon run out of steam. The most successful students do between 10 and 20 minutes of study everyday. This way you’ll get the new words into your long term memory and when it comes to using them in real life it won’t be a struggle.

4. Put the words in context

Studying the words in isolation won’t help you to make them, ‘yours’. You can create lots of different sentences using the new word so you can get to grips with how it functions as part of a sentence – this will not only help your memory but it will also give you the confidence to use the word in your spoken English.

If you aren’t confident to make correct sentences you can get some inspiration from google – using google news is a great way to avoid standard dictionary examples and to see how the word or phrase works in real life news stories.

5. Repetition

Children are able to soak up language like a sponge soaks up water –  they seem to have super-human language learning abilities that us grown ups can only dream of. But then again children do get a lot of repetition; You can imagine a Mum or Dad saying, ‘Let’s have some milk now, shall we? That’s right some lovely milk. You love your milk, don’t you?’ And if the kid has milk 6 times a day you can see that pretty quickly, they’ll learn the word ‘milk’.

Apart from employing a 24/7 English teacher, flashcards are a great way to get this level of repetition into your life.

6. Enjoy yourself

Becoming fluent in English is probably a very serious goal for you, after all, getting your English to the next level could open up a whole new future for you – but that doesn’t mean that the process has to be serious too. My most successful students are the ones who actually enjoy the learning process. Sometimes a more lighthearted, relaxed attitude actually helps us to become more effective learners.

If you are serious about boosting your vocabulary you might like my 30 Day Fluency Course: