Updated: Feb 17
Increasing your vocabulary is an effective strategy to improve your life and work, specifically enhancing your writing skills.
Investing time and effort in developing a solid vocabulary may be a fun and lucrative endeavor. At least fifteen minutes of serious study each day consistently may significantly enhance your vocabulary abilities, which in turn can improve your capacity to communicate via writing.
It will help you deliver your messages soundly and feel more satisfied with your ability to communicate your thoughts and ideas more effectively.
Of course, you already know hundreds of words, and regardless of whether you work at it or not, you will continue to learn more. The truth is that many of the terms you know were probably picked up simply by coming across them frequently enough when reading, conversing, or even watching television.
However, accelerating your learning takes a persistent effort, committed strategy. If you acquire one new word every day for the following five years, your vocabulary will increase by nearly a thousand new terms.
Effective Techniques for Increasing Your Vocabulary
While there are no shortcuts to word acquisition, the wider your vocabulary becomes, the simpler it will be to associate a new word with terms you already know and recall its meaning. As your vocabulary develops, your learning speed, or tempo, should rise. The process of expanding your vocabulary consists of the following techniques:
Be Conscious of Your Words
Many individuals are taken aback when they learn they have limited vocabularies, “But I’m constantly reading!” they argue. This demonstrates that reading alone may not be sufficient to increase your vocabulary. For example, when we read a novel, we are frequently compelled to continue reading and pass over new or perhaps slightly recognizable terms. While this is evident when a term is completely unfamiliar to you, you must be especially mindful of words that appear familiar but whose specific meanings you may not fully understand.
Rather than avoiding these terms, you will need to examine them more closely. To begin, attempt to deduce the meaning of a term from its context—that is, the content of the paragraph in which it appears; second, if you have a dictionary on hand, immediately check up the word’s definition.
This may slow your reading slightly, but your increased comprehension of each new word will gradually accelerate your acquisition of subsequent words, making reading simpler. Make a regular habit of recording items that pique your interest for further study when you read, listen to the radio, converse with friends, or watch television.
After you have increased your awareness of words, reading is a critical step forward in expanding your understanding of them, as reading is how you will discover the majority of the words you should be studying. It’s also the greatest approach to double-check previously acquired terms. When you encounter a term you have recently studied and comprehend, this demonstrates that you have absorbed its meaning.
What are the best books to read? Whatever piques your interest—whatever motivates you to read. If you enjoy sports, read the newspaper’s sports section, Sports Illustrated publications, and books about your favorite sportsmen.
Frequently, those with little vocabulary do not enjoy reading at all. It’s more of a work than a joy for them, as they have difficulty understanding many of the terms. If this is your attitude toward reading, try reading something simpler. Newspapers are often easier to read than magazines; a reader’s digest magazine, for example, is simpler to read than The Atlantic Monthly. There is no use in attempting to read anything you cannot comprehend or are uninterested in.
The critical concept is to choose things to read that you love and to read as frequently and extensively as possible with the goal of acquiring new words in mind.
Consult a dictionary
The majority of individuals are familiar with using a dictionary to determine the meaning of a word. Here are some suggestions for incorporating this into a vocabulary-building exercise:
Own a dictionary.
Keep it in the area where you often read at home. If you do not have to retrieve it from another room, you are more likely to utilize it. At work, you may have access to an excellent dictionary. Most individuals do not have a large, unabridged dictionary at home; nevertheless, one of the smaller collegiate dictionaries might suffice.
Make a note of the words you search up.
After a time, your eye will automatically go toward the circled words whenever you browse through the dictionary. This will provide you with a short review.
Take time to read the whole entry for the term you are looking up.
Remember that words might have several meanings, and the definition you are searching for may not be the primary one listed in your dictionary. Even if it is, the other definitions of the term will assist you in comprehending the various ways the word is used.
Additionally, the term’s history, which is often included at the beginning of the entry, frequently paints an enthralling picture of how the word came to have its current meaning. This will both enhance the enjoyment of learning the term and assist you in remembering it.
Conduct Regular Research and Review
Once you have begun looking up terms and determining which ones to study, expanding your vocabulary is as simple as studying the words consistently until they become ingrained in your memory. This is most effectively accomplished by allocating a particular amount of time each day for vocabulary study. You can look up new words you noted throughout the day and review older ones you are still learning during that period.
Establish a target for the number of words you wish to learn and the date you wish to achieve it, and plan your schedule accordingly. Fifteen minutes each day is more effective than a half-hour once a week or so. However, if all you have is a half-hour a week, start there. You may discover additional time later, and you will be on the correct track.
To review words efficiently, all relevant information about a word should be maintained in one location, such as an index card, piece of paper, or a notebook. Index cards are helpful because the words may be organized alphabetically, making them easy to discover while studying, and the cards are portable, allowing for study anywhere. It would be best if you attempt to study methodically, ensuring that you review each word at least once every couple of weeks.
However, do not discard cards; you may gain a tremendous sense of achievement by gazing at the rising stack of words you have learned and periodically glancing at an old card and thinking, “Once upon a time, I truly didn’t know what this word meant!”
Additional Vocabulary-Building Resources
The preceding measures do not need the application of vocabulary-building tools such as cassettes, books, or CDs; all that is necessary is a dictionary. However, what about this stuff? Are they worth the shot? I respond affirmatively.
The first benefit of vocabulary-building books is that they provide you with often used terms, saving you time. Additionally, many of these publications will employ the terms in many phrases, allowing you to see words in various settings. The next advantage is that they frequently include tasks that assess your knowledge, which provides a clear sense of progress.
The primary problem of many of these publications is that the words included within them may occasionally be too complex for someone with a limited vocabulary. Such a person would struggle to learn these terms and would likely grow disheartened fast. As a result, I recommend that you scan the materials you are considering purchasing prior to making a purchase. If most of the words are foreign to you, you are unlikely to gain anything out of them. On the other hand, if you recognize many of the words but do not fully understand them, the content is probably appropriate for you.
Numerous publications approach vocabulary development by teaching you word components—prefixes, suffixes, and roots—and demonstrating how these components may be combined to produce a variety of distinct words. You may find this method beneficial since it will increase your awareness of how words are created, which may frequently aid in deducing a word’s meaning from its context.
It is critical to remember that these resources are not a complete substitute for the process I have been discussing. One book will not provide you with all the necessary vocabulary. Furthermore, you are developing a life-long interest in expanding your vocabulary, and focusing only on one method may not be sufficient. However, using vocabulary-study tools in addition to the effective techniques in increasing your vocabulary will immediately reinforce your learning and accelerate your development.
Perhaps the most critical component in a vocabulary-building program’s effectiveness is motivation. It will be quite difficult for you to continue studying words month after month unless you strongly believe that it is worthwhile. Having a more expansive vocabulary would benefit you, and that it may well result in a more exciting and full life. I am convinced that this is accurate, as nothing adds more to life achievement than language, as measured by the Johnson O’Connor Research Foundation. Your time would be better spent elsewhere.
I am aware that you are capable of rapidly expanding your vocabulary. Numerous instances exist of individuals who have done so. Consider that you began life knowing no words and have now acquired hundreds. There are several others that you may study. Why not begin immediately?