How To Build a Wider Vocabulary


Authored by Jackie Acosta in Language Education
Published on 12-07-2008

Expanding one’s vocabulary can help open windows of opportunity and determine success in his or her life. A majority of academic and aptitude exams test a person’s knowledge of words—its meanings, synonyms, and usage, and determines several important things like IQ, depth of knowledge, and mastery of written and spoken language. While the task to acquire knowledge of more words seems daunting, there are several simple methods to build a better vocabulary and here are some of them.

The easiest and fastest way to expand vocabulary is to do a lot of reading. It doesn’t matter what type of reading material the learner uses, just as long as it holds relevant and interesting information. Reading guarantees to expose an individual to new words, whether it is just several or a whole slew of them. To challenge themselves, people can write down words that they do not understand, deduce their meanings from context clues, and check the dictionary for the real meaning of these words afterwards. The more reading a person does, the more he will encounter new words to add to his or her vocabulary.

Another method is to acquire a list of at least three new words everyday, learn their definitions, and use them in daily conversations. Most find this method easier as words are used in their proper context and integrated into existing vocabulary. This method can go both ways as the learner can communicate new words to his or her network, and pick up new ones along the way. Others find that repeating words by using them often makes them remember it more, while some find that making these words personal or relating them to their lives more memorable.

Playing word games such as Boggle, Scrabble, and even Taboo makes learning new words fun and easy too, especially for children. Exposing children to different kinds of words encourages them not to be afraid of them later on in life. By playing these games, words are learned through synonyms or associations with other words or striking visuals. People who play word games are often encouraged to learn more words and their synonyms in order to win; hence, helps increase word knowledge.

When learning new words, students can break down the task by categories. For example, they can opt to expand their technical vocabulary first by mastering words that are used in discussing science and technology, and then move on to learning words that can be used for business purposes. Some find it easier to write down new words in places where they would see it the most so that they will be constantly be reminded to use them. Others prefer learning the etymology or the origin of the word, and using this to find new synonyms to expand their vocabulary.

There are a lot of other methods by which people can increase their personal dictionaries. What is important in learning words is that people should understand what they mean and use them in their proper context. Building vocabulary helps one to hone their study skills, and help them advance further in life.


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