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How to Learn English and Increase your Vocabulary?

By Joseph, published on 25/07/2017 Blog > Languages > ESOL (English) > Learning English as a Foreign Language: 7 Tips for Memorising Words
Contents
  • 1. Start by Looking Up English Vocabulary
  • 2. Use Your New Words as Often as Possible
  • 3. Try New English Expressions and Sayings
  • 4. Speak English
  • 5. Use New Technology to Learn English
  • 6. Never Give Up!
  • 7. Sleep and Relax

You’ve surely already had to look up words in your own language. It’s even more common English.

Whether you want to discover new TV series, improve your career prospects, or just love the accent, you’re probably going to have to learn English.

Whether you do this with private tutorials or classes at school or university, there’s always one question that crops up:

How can I remember all these new words?”

In fact, how can you learn English more effectively? How can you memorise all your English vocabulary?

To get ahead in English, there are several ways to remember a huge amount of vocabulary.

If there’s one thing you need to know about learning a language, it’s that it takes a long time and a lot of work.

Here are 7 tips for remembering as many English words as you can.

1. Start by Looking Up English Vocabulary

As you’re learning, especially at the beginning when it’s really important, you’re going to find a lot of words you don’t know.

As soon as you realise you don’t know the word, you should think about whether it’s a verb, adjective, noun, or adverb, etc., then think about what it means.

If you can’t work out what it means, then you’ll have to look it up in your dictionary.

However, by doing this, you’ll start thinking in English whenever you can.

Nowadays you can look words up on your computer, tablet, smartphone by using on-line dictionaries and Google Translate.

Which are the best online dictionaries? Use an online dictionary to improve your English vocabulary. (Source: NetCom BSI)

Beware of some of the definitions on the Internet. Make sure to check whether or not the source you’re using is reputable.

Once you’ve found the meaning of a word, you should make a note of it. You can also organise them into groups, too.

Each page can be a group: irregular verbs, pronouns, adverbs, prepositions, nouns by function (around the house, in the street, shops, etc.), idiomatic expressions, false friends, etc.

Don’t forget to:

Study Every Aspect of English

In order to improve your English vocabulary, it’s important to study and understand English grammar.

English is a rich language. Memorising English words can be difficult due to the varied vocabulary and tricky conjugations.

Once you start learning a foreign language, you need to focus on communicating with native speakers. Your brain can remember far more vocabulary than you’d think. However, you don’t need to know every word in English in order to speak to a native English speaker. Nevertheless, having a good vocabulary can be helpful when it comes to clearly expressing yourself. You just need to remember them and know how to use them.

They come in the following grammatical categories:

  • Determiners,

  • Prepositions (at, in, to, etc.)

  • Conjunctions (and, but, as soon as, etc.)

  • Auxiliaries (be, have, do, must, etc.)

  • Pronouns (I, you, mine, their, etc.)

These word types are the bedrock of the English language and you’ll need to master them in order learn English.

However, the “lexical words” in English are much easier to remember. You just need to learn them off by heart and apply simple grammatical rules.

  • There are a number of European languages that have “transparent words” whose meanings and spellings are exactly the same in English.

  • Latin Prefixes. There are words in English whose meanings can be changed by adding common Latin prefixes like.

  • Latin Suffixes. Just like with the Latin prefixes, English also makes use of Latin suffixes for a number of common words.

2. Use Your New Words as Often as Possible

If you have a good visual or auditory memory or are working with a private tutor or listening to English podcasts, you can remember vocabulary in a matter of minutes.

What happens after a few days, weeks, or months? The chance of forgetting them increases.

How can I improve my memory for words? Create your own sentences in English. (Source: Endecor)

The trick is to use your new words as often as possible in order to commit them to memory.

There are a few ways to do this:

  • Use your new words in sentences. Create sample sentences with the vocabulary in context in a way that’ll help you remember them.

  • Write sentences using these new words and then read them aloud. Your brain will remember them better this way.

  • Put specialised vocabulary onto Post-It notes. If you learn vocabulary for a piece of furniture, why not stick its English name on it? You’ll remember them by regularly reading them.

By following these steps, you’ll become bilingual in no time!

Memorise English vocabulary with the Leitner System

Knowing how to use your new English vocabulary is useless if you don’t remember it!

In fact, your memory is affected by your motivation and ambition. This can lead you to learning more words if you’re motivated.

A good technique for memorising vocabulary in a foreign language is the Leitner System of flashcards.

The system was devised by the writer Sebastian Leitner and focuses on the use of flashcards and placing them in boxes.

  • Write the English word on one side and its meaning or translation on another side.

  • Place the cards into the first of 5 boxes.

You’ll start moving them around the boxes once you start studying.

This is how you do it:

  1. Study the words in the first box the most frequently.

  2. Test yourself. If you get a word right, put it in the next box. If you get it wrong, move it to the previous box.

  3. The goal is to get all the cards into the last box.

3. Try New English Expressions and Sayings

To boost your English, you need to take a step back.

It’s a good idea, in certain situations, to learn entire expressions. When you learn an expression, you also learn all the individual words that make it up.

You can also learn words with multiple meanings like “focus”.

  • As a noun: the centre of interest or activity.

  • As a verb: adapt to the prevailing level of light and become able to see clearly.

  • Or: pay particular attention to.

Knowing all the definitions can help you better understand the word.

How can I find out the definitions of English words? Make sure you speak during your English tutorials, too! (Source: Educational Advocates)

Once you know all the various definitions, you can start implementing the word into your everyday speech.

With regular use, the word will enter into your active vocabulary.

Create an English linguistic environment

To improve your English, you have to immerse yourself into the English language every day. This is one of the best ways to quickly learn English words and increase your vocabulary.

In addition to watching English television and reading English books, you need to practise your English regularly. Every day, in fact!

Recite your new vocabulary aloud to work on your pronunciation and activate your memory at the same time.

Quick tip: our brains function most with vision. This is what we call visual memory.

Your eyes record everything you see like a camera. You can use them to help you learn without even realising.

Repetition will help your brain store everything.

To help foster this type of memory, here’s our advice:

  • Stick post-it notes everywhere!
  • By putting post-it notes on your fridge, desk, table, etc., you’ll quickly memorise all your vocabulary.
  • Start by making lists of words in terms of their function (furniture, electronic devices, etc.) in order to improve your memory.
  • Your brain will unconsciously start remembering this words.

4. Speak English

Our brain is like a machine, it need to be regularly greased to work at 100%.

You should train your memory to learn new vocabulary.

To learn new English words, whether during your English tutorials or as you study with an app, you need to bring this learning process to life.

Where can I speak English? The more you speak, the more you learn! (Source: Psychologies)

The English language is a living language for speaking to other people.

Speak to your English tutor, friends, and anyone who speaks English if you’re spending time in an English-speaking country.

You need to do more than just read English words to remember them. You need to bring them to life by saying them aloud.

If you don’t feel comfortable speaking to people, why not record yourself on your phone? You can listen to your pronunciation and see if you’re doing it right.

Talk to English native speakers

There’s no secret to learning English. You need to practise again and again. Speaking is the best way to quickly learn English.

Do you not have a private tutor or any English-speaking friends? Why not find an English pen pal?

Once you’re speaking to an English speaker, you’ll be able to work on your English pronunciation and accent.

In addition to all the linguistic benefits, you’ll also learn about English culture.

Why not plan a linguistic stay in an English-speaking country to make English-speaking friends?

5. Use New Technology to Learn English

Games are a great way to learn when it comes to foreign languages.

In addition to on-line games, using apps on your tablet or smartphone can be a great tool for learning languages.

What games are there for learning English? Playing can really improve your English! (Source: Mensive)

By putting your apps in English, you’ll improve your comprehension, your vocabulary, and pronunciation.

If you prefer board games, why not play them in English? Challenge yourself by describing an English word without saying it.

On-line English Tutorials

Those learning English can perfect their vocabulary thanks to a number of on-line English resources:

  • Learn English conjugations

  • Understand English grammar

  • Enrich your Vocabulary

  • Work on your pronunciation

  • Write in English, etc.

Everything is possible in the digital age!

After a quick search on Google, you’ll be inundated with a mountain of sites promising you the world.

To make your life easier, here are a few sites for learning English:

These resources are perfect for English beginners.

Once you master the basics, you should head along to BBC Learning English to work on your vocabulary.

Apps for Revising English Vocabulary

Use English lesson apps to learn English quickly.

It’s a great way to kill time on the bus!

Get off Twitter and Snapchat and learn a language with the multitude of apps for iOS and Android.

In addition to Babbel and Duolingo, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to language-learning apps.

6. Never Give Up!

Learning a foreign language is never easy. You can’t learn English in 4 weeks!

Take your time when learning a language. Use all the methods we mentioned before.

How can I motivate myself to learn English? With the exception of Titanic, Leo never gave up! (Source: GQ)

Work regularly: It’s recommended to spend 20 to 30 minutes per English lesson a day and study grammar for around 3 hours per week. Find English courses in London here.

The best way to learn new words is to be realistic with your learning goalsLearners who manage this are those with clear, concrete, and achievable goals.

Motivation is key to learning English quickly.

You’re not going to become bilingual in just a few weeks and learn hundreds of English words if you don’t have the motivation. You should know at least 1,000 English words to be able to start speaking to native speakers.

You’ll need perseverance if you want to get to this level. Working regularly doesn’t necessarily mean that your motivation has to decrease. Motivation will help you work more quickly.

To get the most out of your motivation, here are some tips:

  1. Form new habits: Everyone has a few bad habits that they need to get rid of. By changing them, you’ll improve your vocabulary. Watch the BBC, listen to English radio, use apps for learning English, etc.

  2. Focus on your objectives: like all athletes, you need to give yourself achievable goals in order to stay motivated. Once you reach your objectives, you’ll be more motivated to continue your training. For example: I want to learn 200 English words in a month.

  3. Set yourself challenges: Just like objectives, challenges can be used to keep you motivated every day. Mark off every day on the calendar where you’ve completed a challenge.

7. Sleep and Relax

Did you know that sleeping affects your ability to learn? You’ll learn new things better if you’ve had enough sleep.

Your brain does as much work at night as it does during the day.

When should I study to improve my memory? Trust your brain to learn English while you sleep! (Source: Dr. Beurkens)

That’s why we recommend studying a few words before going to bed.

Your brain uses to sleep to store and arrange everything it learnt during the day, including your new English words.

Let your brain relax after a hard day of work. It’ll thank you for it by remembering everything from your English tutorials, your grammar activities, etc.

You can also learn vocabulary during the morning. Use this time to revise the vocabulary you learnt the night before.

Relaxing your brain is the best way to learn

Don’t try to overload your brain during the day by trying to remember thousands of new words. Studying for a few minutes every day is much better than spending 4 hours with your head buried in books.

Studying daily is a great way to remember things. It’s a way to train your brain.

Don’t forget that everyone learns at their own pace. It’s important to also have a break during the week.

Sundays, for example. Why not make the most of this day to do something more fun that your usual weekly exercises?

Watching the latest episode of The Walking Dead, for example…

Mastering English vocabulary: a question of habits

It’s always easy to learn the basics but you’ll soon see that learning a language isn’t as easy as it may first seem.

However, once you’ve improved your vocabulary, you’ll be able to speak better, understand better, and have conversations with locals in an English-speaking culture.

You need to get your brain used to reading, hearing, and listening to English words in different accents in order to assimilate all this new vocabulary and get it into your everyday conversations.

Don’t forget that this long learning process needs to be a regular thing.

Ask people (like your English tutor, friends, native speakers) to help you with the meanings of English words and expressions. Use everything you have at your disposal to make your daily life and your surrounding environment as “English” as possible.

With regular and routine practice, you’ll soon be speaking the language better than Shakespeare.

Now you’ve started to learn English, be sure to test your level with with Quizzes or take a formal ESOL exam such as TOEFL & IELTS.

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