In this lesson, I’m going to teach you ways to expand and improve your vocabulary. The method I am going to teach you is one that I use myself, to expand my own vocabulary. Do you find that you often use the same words over and over again? This video is ideal for students who want to improve their English and use more interesting and varied words in their vocabulary.
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Today’s lesson: Ways to expand and increase your vocabulary
In this lesson, we’re going to explore my proven method to expand your English vocabulary. This is a method that I developed myself for expanding my own vocabulary. I do this because there are so many words out there and I want to know and be able to use as many of these words as possible. Everything in this lesson is based on my own life-long journey of growing my vocabulary.
Expand your vocab with the ‘mmm’ method
The method I use is the “mmm” method – because words are tasty! – which helps us remember as there are three parts, each represented by a word that begins with M. So this is also a mnemonic (/nɪˈmɒn.ɪk/ “a system such as a pattern of letters, ideas, or associations which assists in remembering something”).
Change Your Mindset to Learn More Vocabulary
You’ve got to have the right attitude when it comes to expanding your vocabulary. You should be curious to discover and ask about what new words mean. You can do this by checking the word in the dictionary. If you’re in the middle of a conversation, you can also simply ask what the unknown word means.
Now, I know a lot of people are probably too proud to ask someone what a word means because they worry about coming across as stupid. It may also not be appropriate for every single situation that you’re in, like a meeting for example. But in your day-to-day life, it’s a really good way to involve word learning in your everyday activities with the people you know and speak to the most.
When I was a teenager, I used to read classic novels and if I came across a word I didn’t know, I never checked it. I would just try and guess the meaning. But sometimes, you won’t get the meaning right. To this day I’m discovering there are some words out there for which I learned the wrong meaning by guessing.
You also need to be courageous to use new words. When we haven’t used a word before, we might not feel confident enough to actually start using it. So when you get your new word, be courageous. Use it. Plan to use it if you need to.
Finally, to expand your vocabulary, you need to be like a collector. Consider how a collector collects objects like coins or stamps. You are a collector of words, who treats new words as precious items to collect and use. Try to remember where you first learned a new word too because this will help it to stick in your memory.
All of these mindset aspects are going to create the right environment for you to learn new words easily. This is because these mindset changes make growing your vocabulary become part of your life.
What If You Have a Poor Memory for Learning New Words?
We have to be realistic and accept that there are certain limitations to memory for adults. My best tip for you is not to cram words into your mind by staring at them on the page. It doesn’t work. That’s what I thought learning was when I was a teenager. I used to spend a long time revising by staring at paper. Please don’t make this mistake!
What actually works is to frequently remind yourself of the same information. It’s not about staring and trying to remember. Try saying the words out loud in a sentence every night before you go to sleep and each morning before you start your day. Do this until your new words are confidently learned.
Be patient when learning new words. There might be hundreds of new words we want to learn, but it’s impossible to learn them all in just one month! If they are completely unrelated to words that we already know, it’s going to be hard to learn those words.
Are You Treating Words Properly? Make Sure You Make Them Magnificent!
Words are magnificent to me and therefore I like to treat them in a special way. One way you can treat words magnificently is to buy a special pen and/or notebook to write your newly acquired words in. This is much more respectful to your new words than writing them on scraps of used paper!
More practical ways to improve your vocabulary
Download the ‘Word Up’ app to learn more vocabulary
This is an app that I’m using myself. There are all sorts of games that you can play while you’re learning the words. We’re on our phones so much that we should attempt to divert bad habits that we shouldn’t be doing to something useful, like playing word games. Playing word games is one of the many activities we should be doing to expand our vocabulary.
Make a ‘word wall‘ to Help Remember More Words
In my case, it’s a word door. On the back of the door, I’ve taped some paper on to which I write all the words that I want to start actively start using. Each time I pass by the word wall I get reminded of the words I am trying to learn.
Learn the etymology of words
Etymology is to do with the origin of words. When we know something about the etymology of words, it helps us to mentally map the word so that it’s more likely to stick to other words that we know.
Knowing the etymology of a word is also useful because it leads us to the purest sense of the word by taking us back to where it came from. If I’m really struggling to know what a word means, or struggling to define it to someone else, then I always go and check its etymology. This makes the word meaning become much clearer.
Let’s recap the ‘mmm’ method for growing your vocabulary:
▶︎ Develop the right mindset.
▶︎ Accept the limitations of memory
▶︎Treat words magnificently.
▶︎ Use active and practical methods to reinforce your learning, E.g., play a word game, check words in a dictionary, or create a word wall.
Extend Your Learning
◼️ Watch my video on English Manners and How to Be Polite via EngVid
◼️ Read an article on Reducing Zoom fatigue via Stanford University
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