How to increase your English vocabulary

How to improve your vocabulary?

How to improve your English vocabulary?

Having an extensive vocabulary is the foundation of any language. Mastering a wide range of words and phrases allows you not only to better understand a foreign language but also to express your thoughts more confidently and accurately. In the case of English, which is an international language of communication across many fields, from business to science and culture, a rich vocabulary opens up countless opportunities.

With a large word base, you will be able to:

  • More easily understand English texts of varying difficulty levels, from newspaper articles to scholarly publications.
  • Communicate more effectively with native speakers, avoid misunderstandings, and convey your thoughts precisely.
  • Increase your confidence during public speaking, essay writing, and participation in discussions.
  • Enrich your speech, making it more varied and interesting.

In this article, we will consider in detail the methods, techniques and best ways to expand and improve the vocabulary entry in the English language.

Basic methods for expanding vocabulary

Using diaries or notebooks for new words

Keeping a diary or notebook for new words is one of the most effective ways to systematically build your vocabulary. This method involves regularly writing down new words along with their translations, definitions, example usage, and any other supplementary information that can aid in memorization. Maintaining such records not only improves memorization but also allows you to revisit learned words at any time for review.

How to keep a vocabulary journal

  1. Choose a notebook format: You can use a paper notebook or a digital app like OneNote, Evernote, or any text editor.
  2. Structure your entries: Organize your notebook to easily find needed words. For example, use alphabetical order, thematic sections, or dates.
  3. Record key information:
    • The English word
    • Translation or definition in your native language
    • Part of speech: noun, verb, adjective, etc.
    • Example sentences: a few sentences using the word in context.
    • Pronunciation: transcription or audio link for pronunciation.
  4. Additional information: For better memorization, you can add synonyms, antonyms, associations, or pictures to help visualize the word.
  5. Regular review: Review your notebook regularly, update it, and add new words.

Example application

Word: ambitious

  • Translation: aspiring, driven
  • Part of Speech: adjective
  • Definition: having a strong desire for success or achievement
  • Example Sentences:
    • “She is very ambitious and always sets high goals for herself.”
    • “His ambitious nature drives him to constantly seek new challenges.”
  • Pronunciation: /æmˈbɪʃəs/
  • Synonyms: aspiring, determined, eager
  • Antonyms: unambitious, lazy
  • Association: Picture someone climbing a mountain peak, achieving their goals.

Additional Word: goal

  • Translation: aim, objective
  • Part of Speech: noun
  • Definition: the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result
  • Example Sentences:
    • “Her main goal is to become a successful lawyer.”
    • “We need to set clear goals for this project.”
  • Pronunciation: /ɡoʊl/
  • Synonyms: aim, objective, target
  • Antonyms: lack of aim, purposelessness
  • Association: Picture an archer aiming at a target.

This approach allows you to systematize your knowledge and easily revisit learned words for review and reinforcement. Using a diary or notebook will help make the process of learning new words more organized and productive.

Reading books, articles, and news in English

Reading is one of the most effective ways to build your vocabulary. When you read texts in English, you encounter words in context, which helps you better understand their meanings and usage. Here are some key benefits of reading:

  1. Vocabulary Enrichment: New words in texts are easier to memorize and use.
  2. Contextual Learning: You see how words are used in sentences, facilitating comprehension of their meanings and grammatical features.
  3. Improved Grammar and Style: Reading diverse texts helps you better understand grammatical structures and writing styles.
  4. Expanded Cultural Horizons: Reading across different genres and topics allows you to learn more about English-speaking cultures, traditions, and current events.
  5. Increased Motivation: An engaging book plot or interesting article can make the language learning process more enjoyable and motivating.

Choosing appropriate materials

Selecting suitable reading materials is key for effectively learning new words. Here are some tips for choosing:

  1. Difficulty Level: Choose materials that match your language proficiency level. If a text is too difficult, you may lose motivation.
  2. Interests: Read about topics that interest you, whether fiction, scientific articles, news stories, blogs, recipes, or any other texts.
  3. Genres and Topics: Try different genres and subjects to expand your vocabulary across various domains.
  4. Reputable Sources: Select materials from reliable sources like renowned publishers, scholarly journals, or popular news websites.

Practical tips and examples

  1. Start with Short Texts: If you’re just beginning, choose short articles or stories. For example, you can read news on sites like BBC News or CNN.
  2. Keep a Journal: Maintain a notebook or digital document to record new words and expressions you encounter while reading. Note their meanings and example usage.
  3. Active Reading:
    • Underline or highlight new words.
    • Try to guess a word’s meaning from context before consulting a dictionary.
    • After reading, review the highlighted words and create your own sentences with them.
  4. Reading Aloud: Read texts out loud to improve pronunciation and intonation. It also aids memorization of words.
  5. Reading Books: Choose books adapted for your level, like the Penguin Readers series for various proficiencies. For higher levels, select original works.

Example application

You decide to read a BBC News article on environmental issues. Here’s how you can organize the process:

  1. Select an Article: For example, “Climate Change: The Impact on Global Weather Patterns.”
  2. Read and Underline: While reading, underline new words like “sustainability,” “carbon footprint,” “renewable energy.”
  3. Record Words: Enter new words in your notebook:
    • Sustainability: The ability to be maintained at a certain level without exhausting resources.
    • Carbon footprint: The amount of carbon emissions caused by human activity.
    • Renewable energy: Energy from natural sources that are continuously replenished.
  4. Example Sentences: Write sentences using the new words:
    • “The company is committed to sustainability by reducing its carbon footprint.”
    • “Investing in renewable energy sources is essential for the future of our planet.”
  5. Review: Go over these entries weekly and try to use the new words in conversations and writing assignments.

Reading books, articles, and news in English is a powerful tool for enriching your vocabulary and improving language skills. Use these tips to make the process of learning new words engaging and effective.

Listening to podcasts and audiobooks

Listening to podcasts and audiobooks is one of the most effective methods for building your vocabulary, as they allow you to integrate learning into your daily life. This method provides constant contact with the language, facilitating the natural acquisition of new words and expressions.

  1. Deepening Contextual Understanding: By listening to audio materials, you have the opportunity to hear words in various contexts. This helps you better understand the meanings and usage of new words, as well as acquire them naturally.
  2. Developing Listening Skills: Audiobooks and podcasts improve your listening comprehension skills, which are an important aspect of language learning. You become accustomed to different accents, speech rates, and intonations, which aids in better recognizing and memorizing words.
  3. Activating Multiple Sensory Channels: Listening and potentially taking notes or repeating new words activates several sensory channels, promoting better memorization. Some people learn better by listening, and audio materials cater to this.
  4. Repetition and Reinforcement: Frequent listening to audio materials allows you to encounter new words repeatedly. The spaced repetition involved in listening aids long-term memorization.

Recommendations for choosing podcasts and audiobooks

  1. Select Materials Suitable for Your Level: For beginners, choose podcasts and audiobooks with simple and clear speech. As you progress, you can move on to more complex materials.
  2. Interests and Hobbies: Listen to podcasts and audiobooks that align with your interests. This will significantly increase your motivation and engagement in learning.
  3. Adapted Audiobooks: Many publishers offer adapted versions of classic works, specifically simplified for language learning. These can be useful for gradually expanding your vocabulary.
  4. Language Learning Podcasts: There are specialized podcasts designed for learning English, such as “ESL Pod,” “The English We Speak” from the BBC, or “English Learning for Curious Minds.” These provide explanations of new words and phrases.
  5. Reviews and Recommendations: Read reviews and feedback on podcasts and audiobooks to find the best options. Language learning sites and forums often feature recommendations from other learners.

Example application

  1. Choosing Audio Material: Select a podcast like “The English We Speak.” This is a short BBC podcast that explains the meanings of various English idioms and phrases in an easy-to-understand manner.
  2. Listening and Note-Taking: While listening to the podcast, pay attention to new words and expressions. Write them down in your notebook or use a note-taking app on your smartphone.
  3. Repetition and Reinforcement: After listening, repeat the new words several times. Try creating sentences with these words or using them in conversation.
  4. Additional Context: Find examples of the new words being used in other contexts. This could be through online searches or listening to another podcast or audiobook where these words might also appear.
  5. Real-Life Application: Strive to use the new words in your daily speech or writing. This could be in conversations with friends, writing an English journal, or participating in a language club.

In this way, listening to podcasts and audiobooks becomes not only a form of entertainment but also a powerful tool for expanding your vocabulary and improving your listening comprehension skills.

Techniques of memorizing new words

Using flashcards

Flashcards are one of the most popular and time-tested methods for learning new words. Cards can be paper-based or digital (using apps like Anki or Quizlet).

  • Paper Flashcards: Write the English word on one side of the card and the translation or definition on the other side. Regularly review the cards by shuffling them to avoid memorizing the sequence.
  • Digital Flashcards: Use apps that allow you to create flashcard decks and automatically schedule word reviews using a spaced repetition system.

This method helps reinforce words through active recall and improves memorization.


  • Word: “apple”
  • Translation: “яблуко”
  • Definition: “A round fruit with red, green, or yellow skin and a firm white flesh.”


  1. Create 5-10 cards with new words.
  2. Review them daily, trying to recall the meaning from each side.

Spaced repetition method

Spaced repetition is a technique where words are reviewed at specific intervals, allowing them to be reinforced in long-term memory. Apps like Anki and SuperMemo automatically calculate optimal review intervals for each word.

This method involves repeating words over incrementally increasing intervals to solidify them in long-term memory.


  • Word: “elaborate”
  • Definition: “Involving many careful details or parts.”


  1. Use the Anki app to create flashcards.
  2. The app will automatically schedule review intervals based on how well you memorize each word.

Method of Loci (Memory Palace)

The method of loci is based on associations and visualization. Imagine a location you know well (e.g., your home), and place new words as mental images in different rooms or areas. When you need to recall a word, you visualize that location and associate the word with the placed object.


  • Word: “bicycle”
  • Location: Living room – Imagine a bicycle standing in your living room.


  1. Select 5 new words.
  2. Decide where in your home to “place” each word.
  3. Visualize the words in those locations several times per day.

Using context

Learning words in context significantly enhances memorization. Read books, articles, watch movies, and listen to podcasts in English. Pay attention to new words, write them down along with the sentences they appear in. This will help you understand the meaning and usage better.


  • Word: “perspective”
  • Context: “From his perspective, the situation seemed hopeless.”


  1. Select a short text or article in English.
  2. Underline new words and write them with the full sentences.
  3. Try creating your own sentences using those words.

Method of associations

The method of associations involves creating mental connections between new words and familiar concepts. For example, to memorize the word “strawberry,” visualize a strawberry in detail: its color, aroma, and taste. You can also create associations with other words or events that you remember well.

Example: Word: “flamboyant” Association: Picture a person in a flashy costume, putting on a spectacular show.


  1. Select 5 new words.
  2. Come up with a vivid association for each word.
  3. Repeat these words along with their associations several times a day.

Using mnemonic techniques

Mnemonic techniques help memorize words using rhymes, acronyms, imagery, or stories. For example, to remember “bizarre,” you could devise the rhyme: “a bizarre star.”

Word: “serendipity” Mnemonic: “Serene dip in the city” – imagine a serene dip in the city that unexpectedly brings delight.


  1. Select a few new words.
  2. Make up a rhyme, picture, or short story for each word.
  3. Repeat them several times a day.

Interactive ways to learn words

Using mobile apps

Mobile apps for learning vocabulary are modern, convenient tools that allow you to integrate learning into daily life. They offer various methods and techniques for memorizing new words, such as flashcards, interactive exercises, and games.

Advantages of Mobile Apps:

  • Accessibility: Mobile apps are available anytime, anywhere, allowing you to learn even during short breaks or commutes.
  • Interactivity: Interacting with the app through tasks and exercises promotes active memorization.
  • Personalization: Many apps adapt to the user’s proficiency level, providing individualized approaches and exercises.
  • Motivation: Reward systems, achievements, and leaderboards motivate users to continue learning.

Recommended Word Learning Apps

  • Duolingo: A very popular language learning app offering interactive lessons focused on vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation.
  • Memrise: Uses association and repetition methods for effective word memorization. Includes videos with native speakers to improve pronunciation.
  • Quizlet: Allows you to create your own flashcard sets and offers various game modes for studying them.
  • Anki: Well-known for its spaced repetition system, which helps reinforce long-term information retention.
  • Babbel: Focuses on everyday conversational situations, providing bite-sized lessons for memorizing words and phrases.

Read more about free apps in the article: Top 5 free mobile apps for learning English

Playing word games

Word games are an engaging and effective way to expand your vocabulary. They not only aid in memorizing new words but also make the learning process fun and enjoyable.

Benefits of Word Games:

  • Entertainment and Learning: Combining play with learning makes the process less routine and more motivating.
  • Social Interaction: Many word games can be played with friends or other learners, improving communication skills.
  • Critical Thinking Development: Games often require logic, strategy, and associative thinking, further developing cognitive abilities.

Examples of Games and Apps

  • Scrabble: The classic board game where you form words from random letters. Available in physical and mobile app formats.
  • Words with Friends: An online version of Scrabble, allowing you to play with friends or random players worldwide.
  • Wordscapes: A word puzzle game where you form words from a set of letters to fill a crossword.
  • 4 Pics 1 Word: Guess the word that connects four images. Helps develop associative thinking.
  • Wordament: A word game where you find as many words as possible in a large letter grid within a time limit.

Interactive methods of learning vocabulary through mobile apps and word games make the English learning process more effective and enjoyable. They allow you to seamlessly integrate new word acquisition into your daily life, increasing your motivation and engagement.

Group learning and conversation clubs

Group learning and conversation clubs are effective methods for expanding your vocabulary, as they create an environment for actively using the language in communication. By interacting with others, you have the opportunity to practice new words and expressions in real-life situations while receiving feedback.

Advantages of group learning and conversation clubs:

  • Motivation and Support: Communicating with other learners or native speakers provides encouragement and motivation for further learning.
  • Practice in Real-life Situations: Conversation clubs allow you to use new words and expressions in actual conversations, reinforcing their retention.
  • Development of Communication Skills: Regular communication in English helps improve your listening and speaking abilities.
  • Variety of Topics: Discussing different topics promotes learning a wide range of vocabulary.

Active listening and repetition

Active listening and repetition are key elements of language learning in a social setting. During group learning or participation in conversation clubs, it’s essential to focus on actively absorbing information and repeating new words and expressions.

  • Listening: Carefully listen to how other participants use new words and expressions. Pay attention to pronunciation, intonation, and context.
  • Repetition: Repeat new words and phrases during conversations. This will help reinforce them in your memory.
  • Feedback: Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and ask for feedback from other participants. This will help identify and correct errors.

Watching videos, YouTube, TV Series, and movies

Watching videos, TV series, and movies in English is an excellent method for expanding your vocabulary and improving your listening comprehension. They provide an opportunity to see how words and phrases are used in various contexts.

Advantages of Watching Videos:

  1. Contextual Learning: Watching videos helps you understand the meanings of new words and expressions in context.
  2. Development of Listening Skills: You become accustomed to different accents, speech rates, and conversational styles.
  3. Visual Support: Videos and movies provide visual cues that help better understand and memorize new words.

Recommendations for watching:

  1. YouTube Channels: Choose channels that align with your interests. For example, channels for learning English, such as “English Addict with Mr Duncan,” “BBC Learning English,” or “Rachel’s English.”
  2. Subtitles: Initially, use English subtitles for better comprehension. Gradually transition to watching without subtitles.
  3. TV Series and Movies: Select TV series and movies with simpler language. For beginners, shows like “Friends,” “The Big Bang Theory,” or Disney movies may be suitable.

Practicing with new words

After learning new words and phrases, it’s crucial to regularly use them in speech and writing to reinforce their retention in your memory.

Practice methods:

  • Conversations: Try to use new words in everyday conversations. These can be conversations with friends, participation in conversation clubs, or even self-practice.
  • Writing Exercises: Incorporate new words into your writing assignments, such as essays, journals, letters, or even social media posts.
  • Sentence Construction: Create a few sentences using the new words. This will help you better understand their meaning and usage.
  • Games and Exercises: Use mobile apps or word games to test your knowledge and reinforce new words.

Example application:

  • Dialogue Writing: Write a short dialogue using new words, and practice it with a friend or study partner.
  • Journal Writing: Keep an English journal, incorporating new words and expressions.
  • Role-playing: During group sessions, participate in role-playing activities using the new vocabulary.

Regular practice and using new words in real-life situations help reinforce them in your memory and make them an integral part of your active vocabulary.

Practice is a key element in memorizing new words. Use them in writing assignments, conversations, and exercises. The more you use a word, the more firmly it becomes embedded in your memory.

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