Nov 19

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The 10 Best Ideas for Learning New Words in English

I think we all agree that one of the most important things to do when learning a new language is to learn new words. Without a large amount of vocabulary, you won’t understand what people say or won’t be able to say much yourself.

So let’s hear it from the experts: what can you do to learn words fast and really well? Based on research into how successful language learners study, we put together a list of the top 10 ways to expand your vocabulary.


Keep a vocabulary notebook or computer files with all the important info about the word to make sure you can use it in a sentence, Check out our EU English VocabBuilderNotes to make it easier to take vocabulary notes.

Revise your notes and test yourself on a regular basis. For example, look through your notes once a week to help you memorize the words.

Pay attention to words that are spelled similarly. For example, conceal and cancel can be easily confused. If you find other words that you find confusing, check them in a dictionary and highlight the differences between them.

Bilingual vocabulary notes can be helpful, especially at beginner and elementary (A1/A2) level. You may keep bilingual notes, that’s, a list of words with their translation into your first language.

Learn new words in context. Learn how the words are used in a sentence. For example, when you learn the word mistake, you should also learn the expression make a mistake, so you’ll be able to use it in a sentence easily. This way you will avoid mistakes like do a mistake!

Use mnemonic techniques like the keyword method to memorize new words. This works very well with strange words that you just can’t remember easily. The main idea is that you need to think of an image that reminds you of what the word sounds like. Take this example: To learn the word aglet (= plastic tip of a shoelace which helps you thread the shoestring through holes when lacing up the shoe), pronounced /eglit/ you may use the following image:

Aglet_MnemonicsThis way the bizarre image helps you remember the word better.

You may use this link for more memory tips.

Source: memory-improvement-tips.com






Use English every day, make it a part of your life and love it! Read a book, write an email, or watch a TV show if only for 10 minutes a day. Ten minutes every day brings you better results than 70 minutes once a week!


Watch your favorite TV shows/movies/movie trailers/music videos with English subtitles several times. Having English subtitles on will help you identify new words/expressions and train your ears to hear them better in context. Check out some of our interactive listening quizzes that can help you identify words to know!

A2/B1: Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Movie Trailer

B2 and above: Friends – Joey and Ross stuck on the roof

B2/C1: Work-Life Balance: Unfinished Business?


Spend time on activities that help you practice the vocabulary from the excerpt or video clip. This will help you use the words you noticed in the video in different ways (in different sentences and activities). It is a goo idea to print the activities and collect them in a file that you can look at and revise from time to time.


Get used to not understanding every single word. I know this last piece of advice sounds strange. But the truth is that language learning is a long-term effort: it takes a long time to get from elementary to advanced level. So you’ll have to spend a lot of time using English and not understanding every single word that you hear. You’ll continue to come across unknown words even after you’ve reached an advanced level. Instead of looking up every single word in the dictionary when you are reading a book or magazine article, you should get used to guessing the unknown word from the context (the words around the word you don’t know and the situation it is used in). For example, if you are watching a video in which someone is crying and another person asks him/her “Why are you upset?”, you’ll be able to guess that upset means sad from the situation. If you understand more than 90% of the words in a text, you’ll be able to guess the unknown words quite easily.

Have you tried any of these ideas? Which one? Did it work for you? Let us know by dropping us a line – we’ll be glad to publish your idea!


Image courtesy of punsayapon at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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