Improve Your English Vocabulary by Peter Etherton for December 2018 E-Newsletter
Students often ask how they can improve their English vocabulary. Here are some quick tips and ideas which may help students:
1 Get the right attitude: it’s your responsibility to learn!
Some students think it is the teacher’s job, not theirs. But teachers can only teach – they cannot learn for you! You need to make a plan and work hard at improving your own learning.
2 Keep a vocabulary notebook!
Keep a little book in your pocket, and write down new words and examples. Use coloured pens, draw pictures, do anything you like to help you remember the new words.
3 Revise the words!
You will start to forget new words as soon as you have written them down. You must revise the words regularly to help you remember them. Test yourself. Work with a friend and test each other. Practise using the new words in your work.
4 Throw away your phone!
If you just check the meaning of a new word on your phone, it will give you a translation. But words have many meanings, so you may get the wrong meaning. Using a phone is just a passive action, and you will soon forget. That’s why the action of writing words in a notebook actually helps you to remember better.
5 Learn to use an English-English dictionary!
You need to get away from a translation method of learning, and start to think in English. (When you start to dream in English, you know that you are really doing well)! Good English-English dictionaries will give you many meanings, collocations and examples.
6 Read, read, read!
Read lots of different materials in English – websites, newspapers, magazines, notices –and, of course books. Don’t start with Shakespeare! The most useful book is a storybook which is just at the right level for you. On our Etherton courses we have large libraries of graded readers, and all students must read at least 1 book a week. When you read, you will meet new words in context, and this helps you to guess their meaning.
7 Chat, chat, chat!
Practise speaking in English if you can. Written English is different from spoken English so you need to use both. On our summer courses we have lots of British student hosts. Their job is to chat to you any time you want to practise your English! For 50 hours a week you can talk to native-speakers. They are young in age so they will teach you the latest slang and colloquial expressions.