I know it has been mentioned here plenty of times. But getting vocab is the most fundamental part of your preparation for a test or to just get better in any language. The process is slow, there isn’t much that we can do about it. However, there are a few tips that you can follow in order to make the journey smoother and in the end even fun.
The best way to get vocabulary fast, is by following these steps:
Read all that you can!
Keep a small jooooournal with your new acquisitions
Know the parts of the words and synonyms
Put the words to use
Do Word puzzle – Try Word Board Games – Play games
Now here we will go one by one exploring the explanation.
Read all that you can!
This is an obvious one. The more we get exposed to the target language, the further on we will be able to get.
It may be difficult to put this into practice on a daily basis but this is ideally something you would not want to force, but go slowly on.
So, my advice is to try to read for about 45 minutes, or an hour every 2 day or on weekends when you have a bit more free time.
This will make it not seems such a hassle or burden but rather a more entertaining activity. I always advise to start making the habit of reading things you are interested in, say sports magazine, some science fiction or other material, in order to help you out and get motivated.
Though reading the same type of material will help us expand our vocab, it will be only in the given area you read. So after you are more or less in the habit of reading and you read at on okay pace, try expanding into other areas of interest like biographies or self help books.
Little by little try to increase the length of the materials you get so you can absorb a broader amount of not just vocabulary, but ideas as well.
Keep a small journal with your new acquisitions.
Keeping a small journal with all the words you obtain might sound obsessive, but it really helps out. This simple tool can help you learn vocabulary in more than half the time. Yup, that’s more than 50% faster.
See our DNA evolved into developing our language more than our short or mid-term memory. So we will tend to forget things that we dont put into practice on the moment.
Have you ever forgotten to buy something from your trip to the store? Didnt happen when you had a list right? This is a very powerful tool and the best way to use it is to have it ready with you when it’s reading time, and as soon as you stumble into a new word, take notes right away.
After you finish reading, look up the definitions of the words and write them down right there. Then before your next reading session, open it up and check the words you added last time, it will be a great freshener.
Keep in mind that this will help you adapt into adding those words to your long term memory.
It’s something you can do at first and little by little you`ll have more vocab to work on your own. In time, the journal will be less a part of you, as you grow more confident and independent with the newly acquired vocabulary.
Know the parts of the words and the synonyms.
When reading an article or a book, you`ll find some words that are formed from different chunks of other words. You will need to be able to identify what the root of the word is and all the additional suffixes and prefixes.
Word: Construe: to interpret a word or action in a particular way.
Sample: His words could hardly be construed as an apology
Synonym 1: render
Synonym 2: interpret
Once you have learned a few prefixes and suffixes, you`ll be able to figure out meaning of new words. The most important part to identify is the root of the word as it is the heart. You can play a little game of getting those long words and breaking them down to their elementary parts.
In addition to knowing the parts of a word, it is very handy to know different words that can say or express the same idea, so synonyms are a must.
The way I work with my students is to make them write down in their journal the word they are looking for, then one or two definitions (some words have two or more meanings), a sample sentence with one or both of their definitions and finally not one, but 2 synonyms. Look at the example above:
From here the student is not only able of finding one definition, but to actually get a few more words. So with this you get more bang out of your vocab.
Put the words to use.
If you don’t use it, you lose it. This will apply here as well. After we have found a word, and written it down in our journal, we have to find an excuse for using it as soon as we can.
What I recommend is writing small summaries of the material you`re reading. So if you`re reading an article about neanderthals in a science magazine that is about 2 pages long, or if you just completed a chapter of a fantasy novel, just make a small summary of around 150 to 250 words and try to use the words that you have found right there.
Writing a small review of what you read helps as well, writing down your opinion and what you liked or dislike or what you would have done.
In addition, chatting with a friend or teacher in the target language is also helpful as long as you incorporate that newly acquired vocab into the conversation.
Do Word Puzzles-Try Word Board Games-Play Games
The funnest of all the different ways you can get quick vocab is to play games. Games are naturally fun, so there’s no thinking too much there. But what type of games can you play? Well, alot.
Charades is very interactive and you need to use a lot of vocab there in order to guess the mimics of your teammate. Pictionarry, guess who and scrabble will top the ranks of most persons.
They can be played in small groups, so if you have a study group and are all motivated, you can play these games and have some fun while you`re learning. My top favorite game is Boggle.
It literally consists of finding words in a small jumble of letters. It is amazingly entertaining even for beginner students.
So there you go. Easy ways of increasing your vocabulary that won’t take a toll on your life. If you apply these for a few weeks or months you`ll be able to see an exponential increase not just on your vocab, but you`ll find that your confidence grows with it at the same rate.
So, make sure you put these tips to work!