The English language often lacks both rhyme and reason. It’s full of synonyms, homophones, homonyms, and other confusing words that seem to make it especially difficult to learn. Luckily, you can use the same five skills to improve your English vocabulary as you did when learning your first language: reading, listening, writing, watching, and conversing.
Reading is a wonderful way to learn new words. Because reading is a one-person activity, you can really take your time with a new word and work out its meaning and usage.
1 Popular literature
Reading illustrated books, such as comics and children’s books, will offer you graphical clues to help you learn new words. Plus, if you’re reading popular books, there’s a good chance that you can find a translation to your own language as well.
2 Relevant blog posts
Reading blog posts about subjects and hobbies you enjoy in English is a great way to familiarize yourself with new English words and will keep your interest.
Listening is how we first learn words as a child and can profoundly impact how we learn to pronounce and use new words. There are lots of ways to learn by listening.
Music is a fun way to learn new words while immersing yourself in the popular culture of English-speaking countries. Find music in genres you like and listen along for words you know.
4 (Virtual) events
Attend events in English, like plays, sports matches, and exhibitions, to listen for new words.
In the age of the internet, writing has become essential to learning and using a new language. Because of the one-sided nature of writing, it’s helpful to have a digital writing assistant, like Grammarly, on your side to help your words flow easily.
Keep a journal of your day in English. This is an easy way to incorporate new vocabulary into sentences and to check your understanding of any new words.
6 Vocabulary building
Learn to look for synonyms. If you want to expand your vocabulary, you’ll have to push yourself to use new words. Grammarly has a feature that can help you learn new synonyms and find just the right word to communicate effectively.
Learn how a new word is used by watching someone use it in context. You’ll learn about the different contexts that may surround a new word as well as the gestures and mannerisms that often accompany it.
7 Movies and TV
Watching movies is a casual way to learn words. Similar to reading illustrated books, you get the perk of visual cues, while also benefiting from hearing how the word is usually pronounced. Tip: Combine your listening and reading skills by turning on the closed captioning in English, which can be a helpful way to visualize the words being spoken aloud.
Watch people conversing around you in the world. How are they using their words? What can you learn about the words they’re using by observing the relationships of the people and their mannerisms?
Now it’s time to take your new words for a test drive. Conversing allows you to gain valuable input on your word usage and pronunciation while expanding your vocabulary.
9 Fluent speakers
Host a (virtual!) game night or dinner for your fluent-English-speaking friends and colleagues. Ask them for feedback on your pronunciation and language use.
10 Fellow English learners
Learn from other learners. Join a study group or meet with other local people learning English. Make a commitment to only speak English when this group meets.