Are you trying to improve your vocabulary for school, standardized tests, or personal growth? If so, you must be committed to learning new words on a regular basis.
Expanding your knowledge and use of words will enable you to communicate more effectively (speaking & writing), so people will easily understand you. You will also be perceived as a confident and intelligent person. Your ability to communicate is an important skill that can be useful in various situations throughout your lifetime. For example, writing a letter to a restaurant owner to voice your displeasure with service received when dining at their establishment. Perhaps you would like to notify a store manager about excellent customer service you received from a Sales Associate while shopping in their store. Maybe you have suggestions regarding how a store can improve certain aspects of their business, and you want to tell them by dropping a note into their "suggestion box". Regardless of the situation it is important to speak and write well so you are taken seriously and are understood.
Here are 5 powerful ways to enhance your vocabulary:
1. Develop an insatiable appetite for reading Read novels, short stories, anthologies, magazines, newspapers, blogs, etc. The more you read the more words you will be exposed to.
2. Become best friends with the dictionary and the thesaurus While reading, when you encounter a word that is unfamiliar, look up the meaning. Be sure to read the entire entry for the word because it can have a different meaning depending on the context in which it is used. Then write down the main entry for the word. You can also write a descriptive sentence using the word correctly. A great idea is creating a personal glossary of terms in a composition notebook, Google Docs or another digital format. While writing/typing the definition and using it in a sentence, you are using the kinesthetic and visual modalities of learning. Also find opportunities to use these words in your day to day conversations.
3. Study Latin & Greek prefixes, suffixes and roots If you don't take Latin in school, that is not an excuse for not learning them. Do it on yourself (DIY). If you like, you can do it the old fashioned way and create flashcards using 3 by 5 index cards. If you prefer a digital tool you can use Quizlet to create the flash cards. Knowledge of these prefixes, suffixes, and roots can help you figure out what a word means on sight as well as from context (very helpful on the ACT & SAT tests).
4. Learn a new word each day There are many different websites that offer this service, but I signed up to receive Word of the Day from dictionary.com and have created a personal glossary of terms using Google Docs. Some of the words are not used in typical conversations, but it can’t hurt to learn what they mean. There are also digital tools such as Vocabador, SAT Vocab, and Power Vocab Word Game that are available on Android and iPhone.
5. Play word games (e.g. Scrabble, Words with Friends) You can also learn several words by playing these games. There is nothing more frustrating than having your opponent play a word you don't believe is a "real" word only to find out it is certainly a real word. Add words from these games to your personal glossary. Crossword puzzles are good for learning new words as well! Those new words can be a part of clues as well as answers.
How do you learn new words to expand your vocabulary?