Whether it’s for the ASVAB, the SAT, a promotion, or personal reasons, expanding your vocabulary doesn’t have to be painful. While there are many ways that you can approach the issue, here are a few tips that have worked out for us.
A newspaper is full of words you’ve probably never heard of. If you already read the newspaper, this exercise can fit easily into your routine, although it may involve a departure from the comics or the sports page. Read through a few of the articles that interest you, making sure to underline, circle, or highlight any words that you don’t know. Try to work out what the word means based on the context, or the words that are surrounding it, and the message the overall sentence is trying to send. Make your best guess, and then crack open a dictionary and find the actual definition. If you do this every day, picking out a few words at a time, you’ll slowly start to incorporate new words into your vocabulary. To boost the effectiveness of this practice, try writing out all the words and their definitions in a notebook. It’s been proven that writing things down helps in the memorization process, so why not take advantage of the fact?
Another great way to keep your vocabulary learning consistent is to work your way through a large book. Again, take care to circle, underline, or highlight words you don’t know, use context clues to figure out the definition, and then consult a dictionary. If you commit to reading a chapter each day, you’ll be encountering new words on a daily basis. Writing down the words and their definitions will help them stick. Make sure to choose a book that will challenge you without overwhelming you.
In addition to writing down the words you’re learning and their definitions, try writing out a sentence of your own that incorporates the word. This will help you remember the word because you’ll have actually worked with it. Watch out for what part of speech the word is to dictate what context you use it in!
This Isn’t a Game!
Sure, you need to learn new vocabulary words, but you can still play games while doing it! A personal favorite is Free Rice, which helps you practice vocabulary while also donating rice to people in need. Scrabble can also be a way to help bolster your vocabulary if you play with a skilled player. Remember to keep writing down the words you encounter, as it will help them stick in your head better!
What are some other tools you use to increase your vocabulary?