Top Tips for Learning Vocabulary
Words. Words are important. On this I think we can all agree. So, how can we learn them better, in better ways, by better means, with more (or less) accurate meanings? Here is the first tip in a 5 week series of ideas which I hope can help students at our school on their journey to becoming more proficient and confident practitioners of the English language…
Tip #1: Read more (and party)!
This might sound like a boring, obvious and/or unhelpful suggestion but it is an important place to begin. Estimates suggest that an average native speaker of English recognizes around 50,000 words that they encounter in texts. And yet very few of these words were ‘taught’ to them in a classroom – they learned most of these words by ‘meeting’ them regularly in conversation, in their houses, at work… or in texts. By reading as much as possible you will multiply the chances of ‘meeting’ new words. But it’s important to limit the number of new words you meet.
It should be like being at a party where you know most of the people but not everyone, so you can spend some of the time meeting new people/words but also have the option to hang out with some old mates from school. Nobody wants to go to a party where they don’t know anyone’s name! So make sure you choose your party/text carefully. Graded readers (books that are written for learners of specific levels of English) are a great option – Hint: Lucy has lots in her office in Room 9 and they are free to borrow – while there are many novels that are suitable for higher level learners too (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon, for example, is a great book written in a nice, simple way). So choose carefully and ask your teacher for advice too, but make sure you read as much as possible! Reading, reading, reading will make your vocabulary grow, grow, grow!!!