I often see students writing long lists of unrelated words in their notebooks as they try desperately to expand their English vocabulary but is this really the best way?
A list of words with a translation is a good start but how many of them will you be able to memorize and then use effectively or correctly?

As you come across new words, a list is good but there are a few things you can do to make your list more effective. Firstly, you should categorize your words. Group your words together in themes or words that have something in common. Once in groups, draw a picture for each word along with a definition and example sentence. Research shows that having a visual cue for a word will increase your memory of that word. It also acts as a good tool for revision when you revisit your list and want to test your knowledge by looking only at the pictures.

You can then extend your lists by finding other words associated with each word. Write your word and add a list of associated words around it. You could even make a picture out of them, again creating a visual. Extend this even further by adding collocations ( words that usually ‘go together’), antonyms and synonyms. Word formation charts can also be used to learn all forms of your new word.

Today there are so many applications on all our devices that we have word games, stories, and word puzzles at our fingertips. We can download a huge variety of books which is the best way to expand vocabulary whether you are a native speaker or ESL student.

I found through my own personal language studies that some cards in my pocket with my new words for the week were a great way to revise set words for class or a test. If you’re sitting at a bus stop, you can easily grab your cards for a quick revision. Labeling things with sticky notes is also a goody but a house covered in labels may not be acceptable to your room mates.

At the end of the day, the best way to learn new words is to read. There are so many texts available to us. Go and get lost in a book. Learning new words can be fun.

“A synonym is a word you use when you can’t spell the other one.”

― Baltasar Gracián

Post written by Alison Bawden (Assistant Director of Studies at BROWNS Gold Coast Campus)