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6 Ways to Increase Your Vocabulary | 001



If you struggle with learning new words and remembering to use them, you are not alone. Introverts have different challenges to face when learning languages and sometimes they require a different approach. Here are some things you can do to get you started:


1. Read as Much as You Can, When You Can

Exposure to new words is extremely important to growing and maintaining your vocabulary. Books, articles and other written texts are great resources, but you can elevate them with audio.

 

Since English words do not always look as they sound, it can be difficult to know how to pronounce or spell many words. Using texts along with audio will help solve both of those problems in an effective way.


2. Remember that Not All Words Have Equal Value

Just because a word exists does not mean it is useful to your growth. If you open a dictionary, you will discover thousands of words and most of them you will never use. You need a reason for learning new words; otherwise, it’s a waste of your precious time.

 

In order to improve your vocabulary bank, you will need to avoid generic materials (i.e., textbooks, word lists, etc.). Instead, focus on choosing study materials that are specific to your needs.

 

If you need to expand your vocabulary for your job, reading articles and watching videos that were created specifically for English speakers in your field of work will be a better option than selecting random words from a dictionary or a vocabulary book.

 

Focus your attention on the vocabulary theme you want to improve. The theme should be something of interest, something of value, something you can talk about often. Choose books, articles, videos, podcasts, etc. that have that theme. Reading and listening to the new words in context will help you retain the words and will better prepare you to use them in conversations.

 

3. Use New Words Often

Let’s pause for a moment and think about this: When someone breaks their leg, a doctor gives them two medical sticks they can use to help them walk. These sticks are called “crutches”. They help the patient move around in the beginning stages of healing, but after the patient is healed, the crutches are not necessary. They should let go of the support so they can walk freely. A similar thing happens when learning a language.

 

Beginner textbooks teach basic words and phrases that can be used in many situations. They are extremely useful “crutches” in the beginning stages. However, during the higher levels of learning, they become a hinderance to progress. In other words, if they are relied on for too long, they limit the freedom and fluency of the speaker.


When you realize that you are using the same basic words over and over, it may be time for you to look for similes (words that have the same or similar meanings). Choose one or two alternatives and start incorporating them into conversations.

 


4. Controlled Practice and Usage

There is a lot of advice out there suggesting that language learners should walk up to strangers and start conversations with them. If you are an introvert or a socially anxious person, I can already feel your resistance to the idea. Advice like this is more suitable for people with bigger social batteries.



Instead, it would be better to practice speaking with a good friend, a teacher, a tutor, or someone else you can trust. This will allow you to plan a more natural conversation based on the new words you want to use. Ask your partner to focus on using the vocabulary you want to review and to correct your usage of the new words.

 

5. Keep Your Notes Organized

Taking notes is an important part of learning. It gives you something to review and it’s easy to reference.

 

There isn’t any perfect way to take notes, just like there isn’t any perfect way to learn a language. However, there is research suggesting that writing notes by hand and using bright colors can help the learner remember the information better.

 

Try different note-taking styles and discover the one that is best for you. Another benefit of keeping organized notes is that you can watch your mounting progress!

 

6. Consistency is Key

Consistency is what allows people to see big results.

 

Our brains value consistency. If you do not have a consistent reason for learning and a consistent schedule, your brain will not make learning a priority and you will have a difficult time remembering the things you study. This is why it’s a good idea to have clear goals so you can develop a routine.

 

The process of learning can feel slow at times, but when you take good notes, organize them well, and maintain a good study routine, you will discover that consistency is the fastest and most reliable plan of action for learning a language.

 

>> Bonus! <<

Expand your vocabulary in your strongest language. This may sound counterproductive, but research supports this notion.

 

Words like “thingamajig” and “whatchamacallit” might be easier to remember because they sound silly, are fun to learn, and don’t have a lot of meaning. Whereas, words like, “rim” (of a cup) and “bristles” (of a brush) might be more difficult to recall if you don’t already know the equivalent in your stronger language.

 

Remember to take your time and enjoy the learning process. This is not a race to the finish line because there is no finish line. If you can accept that, learning new vocabulary will be much easier for you.

 

Happy learning!

Kei





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