One thing which most of us want is a good and big vocabulary. Knowing and using lots of words can help you get noticed and create a good impression on others. In this blog, let me share with you how you can improve your vocabulary.
Let me tell you, there are so many words in English. More than a million total words which 170000 words in current use and approx 30000 words used by each individual person. In short, the number of words a person can learn is virtually endless. So, the number of words a person can know is nothing compared to the words a person does not know.
While working with students and professionals, I have come across a few things which have worked for me and my students also, as far as improving the vocabulary is concerned. Before I should dive into the activities one should follow to improve vocabulary, let me tell you the different types of vocabulary.
Types of vocabulary
In general, there are two types of vocabulary:
- Passive vocabulary – These are the words that you know and can recognize when you read or listen to but are not comfortable with while using yourself.
- Active vocabulary – These are the words that are comfortable to use when you speak or write. This is what people are interested to improve as they want to work on their usable words.
But there are two other types of vocabulary
- Etymological vocabulary – These are the words whose origin is known by you and you can explain them. Like the word ‘puer’ that means ‘boy’.
- Catachrestic vocabulary – These are words that we might misunderstand like ‘reticent’ or ‘reluctant’.
But, if you want to do it by yourself and too alone, then you can check out the activities shared below:
Join Our Community
Sign up and be the first to know about new lessons, special offers, and more
Activity 1 – Read with a dictionary
This is one activity that will help you to work on passive and catachrestic vocabulary. This is one activity that I used to follow when I was studying and thanks to my English teacher, who helped to continue with this habit.
Flashcards are also helpful, but keeping them and managing them is a bit difficult, so using a pocket dictionary was easy. I used to carry it all the time and used to look into it when I encountered a word, I do not know. This was one habit that I continued following for a long time.
The more you do, the more you learn. This habit also helped me to pair new words that I encountered for the first time while reading.
Now, because of the internet, we can use an online dictionary app also, but it is not better than pocket dictionaries.
Activity 2- Building your personal dictionary
At this time I have more than 1000 words, that are part of my vocabulary enhancement. These are the words that I study, learn, love, use, forget and remember. Let me tell you, this is what I am making my students also follow and this is really helping them. A sample of such a document is added for your reference.
The way I create a new entry in this document is as follows:
- When I encounter a new word that I do not know, then I add that to my document.
- I check out the word in the Oxford dictionary or on google (mostly on google now). Know the meaning and other details.
- I add the new word, meaning, sentence, 3 synonyms, and 3 antonyms. As it is in the picture. In this manner, I am learning 7 words at a time and also enhancing my usage of words as per the audience I am using the word with.
- The most important part is using this word or discussing this word with at least 5 people.
Check my entry for the word
If you want me to share new vocabulary words with you, please subscribe to the weekly vocabulary newsletter.
Activity 3- Study Indo-European languages
This is an activity that targets etymological, and passive vocabularies. We know that English belongs to the Germanic branch of the Indo-European language family, but thousands of words belong to Latin in origin.
For learning these words we need to know the additional context to know the details. English is one language that consists of words having origin from Indo-European language, including Greek, German, French, Italian, and even Sanskrit.
Activity 4- Get to know some roots and etymology
This is one activity that helps us get better at etymological and passive vocabularies. If you are someone who wishes to learn lots of words than find out the history of unfamiliar words and know why they mean, what they mean. Knowing the origin of the word provides you better options to learn and recollect.
Few things that can help you that will also help in buliding up your vocabulary.
- Develop a reading habit – The best way to get better at vocabulary is you should encounter words and that can happen when you read a novel or a newspaper article. It will help you make your list of words part of your vocabulary. This will help you get exposed to unfamiliar words and know the usage of the word also.
- Use the dictionary and thesaurus – Getting access to online dictionaries and thesauruses can be helpful if used properly. This can help you learn the synonyms, related words, root words, and antonyms to get the context of the word better while writing.
- Playing word games – If you play games like Scrabble, Crossword puzzle, and Boggle then it can be of great help to expand your English vocabulary. To get the real benefit, you can keep making notes of the new words while playing these games. These words can be learned later time to time.
- Using flashcards – One of the most used activities to build vocabulary is studying a number of words with the help of flashcards. There are apps also on mobile phones to make flashcards and organize them.
- Subscribe to “Words of the week” feeds – Many platforms provide word of the day or week feed on their websites. Simply, subscribe to these feeds and get to learn these words. You can subscribe to one of these feeds by mentioning details below.
I have got more career and communication advice and inspiration for you at www.anjujindal.com.
To know about the same just message “course” by clicking on this link.
You can also ask questions during the live. So, to be part of the live, do join the community career growth mastermind.
About the Author: Anju Jindal
Anju is a trainer, entrepreneur, and career growth specialist who helps students, working professionals, women, and Job seekers to reach out to their goals by implementing a Career Growth plan