Here are three major vocabulary building tips:
Tip #1: Read, read, read!
Reading can greatly help you in building vocabulary.
Advantages of reading:
- You can look for materials to match your own level.
- You can read at your own pace, or you can reread.
- You can then do many different activities and exercises based on what you have read.
Probably the biggest bonus with reading is the following:
When done properly, reading can be a lot of fun.
You can enjoy reading an interesting story, and improve your vocabulary at the same time.
This can be much more interesting than a “fill in the gap” exercise
However, for reading materials to reach their full effect, they really have to be both interesting and not too advanced for the student’s level.
Tip #2: Make sure you understand what you are reading!
This point might seem obvious, but actually, it is really not.
Some people think it is best not to stop on every word, but to understand the words from the context. That basically means, to guess what the word means, or to simply ignore it.
This is a common approach, but research has shown it is a problematic one. It can lead to misunderstanding and all sorts of other confusions.
It might seem like understanding from context is faster, but it doesn’t really help you in building vocabulary. It can leave you with many words you don’t really understand, or that you only think you understand.
It can slow down your progress significantly.
Here is an example:
A student reads the following sentence “It was sunny outside, so Marta brought a parasol.”
Now, what does that mean? What is a “parasol”?
You can guess, but that won’t necessarily get you to the right answer. You will probably remain unsure.
However, this can be solved easily. You can use the dictionary to find out what it really means. “Parasol” is a kind of umbrella that protects against the sun.
So now it makes sense: “It was sunny outside, so Marta brought a parasol.”
In summary, the way to build vocabulary is to learn vocabulary. Not to guess one!
And this is the point where dictionaries really come in handy.
They are wonderful tools. They help not only in finding out what a word means exactly, but also with giving examples of how the word is actually used.
And that is priceless
Tip #3: Practice the new words you have learned!
Okay, so you’ve learned some new words. Cool!
Now what? How can you make sure you don’t forget them?
Here we discover the importance of practice.
Make sure you practice the new words.
Now, practice doesn’t have to be boring. You can turn it into a game, make it fun!