How To Improve Your Vocabulary in English in 7 Steps
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated December 15, 2022
Published May 25, 2021
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
The English language is continually evolving, which gives you the chance to expand and improve your vocabulary. Learning how to increase your knowledge of English can help you both at school and in a professional setting. A greater vocabulary can boost your ability to share your thoughts and ideas and better understand what others are trying to communicate to you.
In this article, we discuss the benefits of expanding your vocabulary, outline how to improve your vocabulary in English and offer tips for remembering new words.
How to improve your vocabulary in English
Here are seven steps you can take to improve your vocabulary in English:
1. Collect resources
A dictionary can help you learn the meaning of words, and a thesaurus can help you find similar words to ones you might already know. When you're reading digital texts, you may use an online dictionary and thesaurus. Having a print dictionary and thesaurus can be helpful when you're at home or at the office, since they may provide more comprehensive entries for each word.
In addition to general English texts, you may want to find sources that are specific to your industry or your field of study. If your field is large, you might look for special dictionaries for that subject. You can also check the back of textbooks, technical manuals and nonfiction books for a glossary, which can explain the words used within a specific text.
2. Create a list of words to learn
Making a list of new vocabulary words you've learned can help you remember and review them. You might create this list on your phone or in a small notebook so that you can review it frequently or add to it whenever you learn a new word. If you choose to use your phone, you may search for flashcard apps or language-learning apps to supplement other learning methods. If you choose to use a small notebook, you can easily return to the list to add details or definitions later.
3. Read news sources
Reading sources like regional, national or global news publications and magazines can be one of the best ways to learn new vocabulary. These sources can help you understand new words more quickly by giving you context for each word so that you can learn how to use it in a sentence or paragraph. Reading the news can also be a good way to read and learn words every day.
4. Review specialized sources
Adding specialized sources into your vocabulary practice can help you learn words that are common in your field, geographic area and social groups. You might ask coworkers or friends what they're reading to find the most applicable sources for your situation. For instance, if you're in a more technical industry, you might check trade publications or books recommended for continuing education courses. Adding these words to a personal list can help you create your own glossary to reference at work.
5. Listen to English sources
As you learn new vocabulary, it's important to understand how to pronounce each word. Many online dictionaries have sound recordings to help you with individual words. Podcasts can help you hear words with appropriate context, and many podcast apps have speed settings so that you can slow down the speech to hear each word more clearly.
You might also learn new vocabulary by watching movies or tutorials and adding closed captions, which show you the spelling of each word. Additionally, you may search for professional conference recordings or excerpts from different geographic areas to hear how people with different accents pronounce terms in your field.
6. Practice by yourself
Using new vocabulary regularly can aid your memory and help you integrate new words into your conversations. You might practice writing sentences with your new vocabulary or incorporating these terms into the communication you already write. You can also create a sentence in your head each time you see a new word. Word game apps can make learning new words exciting and help you feel accomplished as you pass different levels.
7. Speak with others
Practicing with others can help you learn how to pronounce English words and use specific words properly. You may research conversation groups in your area or meet a friend or coworker for conversation. If you're learning words in a new discipline, you may try asking questions on an online forum or writing short explanations or writing exercises to understand how to use them in context. Group word games and puzzles can also be a fun way to review and think about the spelling and roots of words.
Benefits of improving your vocabulary
Improving your vocabulary can be useful in many aspects of your career and personal life. Here are some of the benefits you can gain from expanding your English vocabulary:
Better reading comprehension
An increased vocabulary can help you find suitable jobs by helping you read and understand technical job listings. A wide vocabulary can also help you fully understand instructions and communicate effectively in the office. Some industries have technical terms and abbreviations that change frequently, so it's important to stay updated on any new vocabulary to advance your career.
A greater English vocabulary can help you write more vividly and precisely. In a job search process, this means you can describe your experience more accurately on your resume and cover letter. If your job involves writing advertising copy, instructions, surveys or technical manuals, you can use more interesting words. In addition, a greater vocabulary may help you communicate well with your team through memos and emails.
Stronger presenting skills
Having a larger vocabulary may also help you create better slides and scripts for presentations. By incorporating conversations and audio sources into your vocabulary learning, you can learn how to pronounce technical words. This can be beneficial when you're speaking during a meeting or reading a quote from written material.
Having a wide vocabulary can help you speak more fluently with others during interviews and conferences, which might help you increase your network. In the office, your vocabulary can help you communicate clearly about projects and challenges with teammates and managers. Learning new vocabulary through popular media can help you start conversations with coworkers and get to know them.
Tips for improving your English vocabulary
Here are some tips to think about as you improve your professional English vocabulary:
Remind yourself of words after you learn them. Often, the more times you hear and learn a word's definition, the more likely you might be to remember that word. You can do this by rereading new words every day or every few days.
Research the meanings of words. If you aren't sure what a word means, it's worthwhile to look up the definition. This can help you remember its meaning better in the future and show you other meanings or uses that you may not have known.
Try different methods. If you aren't having success with one method or source for learning English vocabulary, you might take a break from using that method. You can try a different one that uses another sense or another kind of reading material.
Use memory aids. You might try finding patterns and using mnemonics to remember word relationships better. You can also group words that have similar sounds or roots to learn several words at once.
Discover the history of different words. You can learn about a word's history, or etymology, to understand when it became popular and discover related terms, such as slang. Understanding how people have used words in the past can also help you use updated or correct language.
Learn word roots. Many English words are parts of words from other languages, like Greek or Latin. Knowing about the roots of words may help you remember new terms since you can connect ones with related roots in other languages, such as Spanish or French.
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