No matter how good your grammar is, if you don't learn, you (literally) won’t get very far with your language skills to show your fluency and accuracy in English: Vocabulary opens up doors to new worlds to all your life aspects and makes learning fun and satisfying.
To expand knowledge of words, you have to put in some effort and there’s neither a magic trick nor a secret or one-approach-fits-all way to do to acquire tons of words over a night. Everyone has to find what works for them; but being persistent, setting realistic short-term and long term learning goals, and considering prizing yourself if you reach each of the goals are some of good strategies that can be complemented with any of the following points.
1. Use Memory Techniques
A popular way to memorize vocabulary is the use of mnemonic, a system to develop or improve the memory to remember more complex concepts or words. For example, you come up with an acronym: Like, when you need to go to the STORE to buy Spaghetti, Tomatoes, Olives, Rice, Eggs. The point is, of course, that you still have to memorize the acronym, song, or association, but with a little bit of practice, you’ll get good at coming up with creative and useful connections. And: The longer you think about acronyms or associations, the better will you remember the words that come with it.
2. Create a learning environment
By studying abroad, you will be in touch with English language through reading in English and listening to it everywhere. As a result, you will learn English actively much faster through immersion – the language teaching method in which people are put in situations where they have to use the new language. Therefore, It is not necessary to go abroad to slowly increase the number of words you know – you can create an inspiring and study-friendly environment wherever you are: Buy magazines or books in the new language, watching movies, and cooking (or just eat) the local food and/or participation in conversation classes/courses.
3. Study the words in context
One of the best ways to learn words quickly and accurately is to study them in context. Instead of writing lists of random words to be memorised, try to put them in sentences. That way, you know how the word is used in real life. Plus, if you come up with funny sentences, it will be easier to memorize. Depending on how you learn, you can also make drawings or find images that will complement the sentences and put the words into their natural habitat.
4. Learn from real-life situations
Speaking of context: Movies, TV shows, books, podcasts, YouTube vlogs or songs are great sources of the most common words, they can also help you memorize the vocabulary because they always come associated with a scene, a person, or a (real-life) event. So, try to read books or watch movies in English (with subtitles) and define the words and phrases based on the context. If you see or hear a phrase or sentence that you don’t understand, write it down, look it up and start memorizing it.
5. Take it to the next level
If you want to take language learning to the next level, leave enough space for mind maps with associated words, synonyms or antonyms. If you want to get the most out of your learning process, try not to translate the word into your native language, but instead, explain and describe it in the language you’re trying to learn.
6. Find the tools that work for you
Learing style varies from one to another, so if you haven't figure it out what works for you, try as many different ways – or a combination thereof – as possible: Flashcards, sentence building, learning apps, word lists, games, or post-its, are all practical ways to memorise words, phrases, etc. The same goes for finding the right time: Some people want to set apart a specific time, others learn more spontaneously. No matter which method(s) matches with your learning style, be sure to get into some kind of rhythm – practice makes perfect, after all.
7. Make it interactive
Just like you have to find the right tools that work for you, it’s also important to make the learning experience as encompassing as possible: Don’t just read the words from cards or lists – hear them pronounced, say them out loud yourself and write or type them. The more you make your encounter with the words an experience for all senses, the better. (Why not eat ice cream while learning what the different flavors are called?)
8. Focus on useful words
If you want to expand your vocabulary because you want to work at a marketing firm abroad, you probably don’t have to read Shakespeare’s novels or focus on words that pertain to the Middle Ages. The more practical and popular the words are for your career, hobbies and real-life conversations, the easier they are to learn – and you will be able to use them more often. (This can be like a game: You can reward yourself every time you used a certain word in a real-life conversation.)
9. Reviewing is the game changer
Persuing a schduled reviewing regarding all the words you are gradually learning is the key to make the words activated and be ready-to-use in your mind.