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Best ways to learn vocabulary


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I think the best way to learn vocabulary is to prioritize it. You need to know pleasantries and how to ask for directions. Colors and animals may not be on the top of your must-know list, so don't worry so much about them. Focus first on the vocabulary that you will use most often. Memorizing words in a vacuum doesn't teach much, but learning words that actually apply to your life does.

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same here Kristi. All the languages that I study or studied  :emo:, I always embed the word into a sentence and this let's me memorize the vocabulary much better. It does take some time but trust me, it is well worth it.

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I think the best way to learn vocabulary is to study the words and memorize it's meaning as well as use it in your everyday vocabulary. There is no better way than to familiarize yourself with something than to practice it. Prior to physicians become actual physicians, they have to matriculate into a residency program where they practice for 3 - 6 years. Nurses has to practice as well as other professions. So, practice until it becomes a component of your everyday vocabulary.

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Do something practical. Don't just make a boring list of words, that's a terrible way to learn. Play a computer game , read a book or watch a TV show. You will quickly begin to pick up new words. This works especially well in games because you are constantly using those words to play the game and your mind is active. Role Playing Games can be a bit on the heavy side for learning vocabulary but give it a shot, you will learn so much more than from sitting there with a textbook.

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Absolutely! When I was teaching Malay to adult native speakers of French and German, I always emphasized two things, why I called the kinaesthetic way of learning and the context-related.

By kinaesthetic I mean when I tell the student to sit down, I use the Malay word for "sit" and told them to repeat the action several times and keep repeating the same verb over and over again such that their brain develops this hair-trigger response to associate the act of sitting with "duduk", the Malay word for "to sit". I then make the students take part in role-playing (ordering a meal at a restaurant, making a phone call, switching on the computer, etc.) with all the necessary words (I start with single words and then gradually move on to more complex sentences as they improve) to accompany the actions.

Another method is to teach full sentences (with real world applications) rather than making the students memorize word lists. By learning full sentences, not  only do they get to apply what they learn , but they find it easier to remember the meanings and specific connected usages of words and phrases.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have always found reading and taking notes of new words has help increased my vocabulary over the years. More often than not, the word will be repeated multiple times throughout the book giving you multiple opportunities to practice your short term memory. For my profession I read a lot of art theory books, and these type of books are notorious for esoteric jargon. So this method is essential for being able to comprehend the author's point.

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When learning a new language I always find it helpful to force myself to think in that language as much as possible.  When I need a word that I don't know, I look it up, and practice using it in that sentence and formulating other sentences. 

Also, any time I would go out somewhere or be in a different environment I would make note of items and landmarks in my surroundings, jot them down and look up the equivalent in the language.  I used pocket dictionaries at the time, but these days using apps or dictionaries on your tablet or smartphone would probably work even better. 

I think that building vocabulary -- even in your own native language -- has to be a continual, active process like this. 

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I can't personally speak for a non-native English speaker trying to learn English, but from my point of view learning Chinese, the best way to go about it is to try and read what I can out of a passage. Make note of words that I don't know and mark them down for either later followup, or immediate lookup.

This usually means having a dictionary or translator handy as I read so that I can figure out what specific words mean. As I progress, I can get by with fewer references and deduce via context. I still end up looking it up, to be sure, but contextual clues help a lot.

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The best way to learn is to use it.  Your pronunciation at first won't be perfect. You'll make mistakes but that's OK.  That's what learning is about.  when I was living in Spain, I took Spanish lessons and made a point of speaking Spanish everywhere and to almost everyone.  SOmetimes I'd mess up or not be understood, but I used it and improved (and everyone was always really nice about my obvious beginner skills)

meanwhile, the students who only  spoke in class and only when they had to didn't learn much at all. 

I also agree with people who say to read and listen to real-world use, such as books, TV shows etc. It gives you the real way people speak rather than the perfect and clear examples of a lesson. 

Of course, different people learn different ways. So the best way is really the way that works for you.

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When I was younger, my dad would make me go through the dictionary and write down a word and definition into a notebook, along with three sentences using that word. Some of those words have stood out to me, but only ones that I shared with my brother and we had a laugh over. I don't recommend this method unless you can find a way to connect to the word somehow to make it stick in your head.

I think the best way to learn new words is while reading a book. I would have a dictionary and notebook next to you, and then look up any words you come across that are new and you don't know what they mean. Having the words used in context and having that image from the book would be a great way to learn, and it also helps you to make sure you know how to use the word correctly. I know that the Internet makes looking up words easier, but writing the word and definition helps to reinforce it.

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When I was younger, in high school, I was doing the whole write down words-make exercises-compose sentences routine.

Now I am learning new words mainly from reading. I've always read a lot, but starting this year I have a blog for book reviews and this proved very useful. Because when writing the review - I make the posts billingual - I have to start thinking in English and usually end up using the new words I found in the book. Like "spinster"for example. Read it, used it, memorised it!

Almost the same thing is with reading and commenting blogs. The cool thing here is that there is a chance in engaging in conversation.

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I believe everybody learns differently, but the most useful method for me has always been listening. Even if you are not paying full attention, simply listening to the language while going about your day helps you get the feeling for the sounds.

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I usually dog ear the page of the book that I am reading where there is a word used that I do not know the meaning of.  I then go back to that page after I have finished that session of reading and look each of the words up on the dog eared pages.  I then write the definitions out on paper and use it as a reference.

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I love reading, its a great way of picking up vocabulary, even in your own language.  The disadvantage, however, is that you don't get the proper pronunciation and intonation with it. Some languages this isn't so bad, such as Spanish, where words are almost always phonetic.  But in English...no way!

Consider:

"She threw the ball through the window"

Threw and through are both pronounced the same way! You'd never know that from reading, unless you were at an advanced enough stage to figure it out. 

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Here's a good method for learning the most important/useful vocabulary first:

Write something every day-- maybe a paragraph or so.  Every time you don't know a word and have to look it up in a dictionary, make a note of the word and translation.  Put it on a list of words to study.  Study those words.  Make flash cards, memorize them.  In time, you'll see that less and less often do you need to look up the words in the dictionary.

You can see how useful this is if you've ever looked up a word you didn't know, put it in your composition and continued writing, only to find that the next day, you needed the word AGAIN for a different document but didn't remember it!

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I would also like to recommend the flash card strategy.  I used that while learning french words.  Draw a picture of the action/item in question on one side of the flash card and write the name of the action/noun etc. on the other side of the card.  It is a little time consuming but works for the "problem" words that you run into.

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A commonly-used trick with school-aged children is to stick post-it notes on everything with the associated word on it.  On a chair, you could have the word "chair" as well as "to sit".  On the fridge, you could have the word "fridge" but also "cold", "food", etc.  Surrounding yourself with the language that you are learning will help you pick up vocabulary even when you aren't trying! :party:

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I think I reached to the right thread as I have the perfect answer you are looking for. Well learning new words should be like a game i guess and I know the similar website which for sure will take anyone from bottom to top in just few weeks.

The name of the website is https://www.vocabulary.com/

This site is the best site I have came to know so far.

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Guest isabbbela

To me the easier (and most fun) way to learn vocabulary is to watch movies, tv shows, listen to music, and more important, reading news and books in the language you want to learn (English, in this case).

To me this is a fool proof way to acquire more vocabulary: with videos, you'll learn a lot of vocabulary, you'll learn how different people speak in different speeds and with different accents, and then you'll be able to also understand better when you talk to people.

With music, you'll be able to listen to the same words and sentences several times repetitively which will make the vocabulary easier to understand and keep it in your brain without forgetting about it in a couple of days.

And reading will teach you how to write the vocabulary. Books are also more formal and written with better grammar than something spoken, so you will learn how to spell, write, and put together the words for a sentence more accurately.

Honestly, to me English lessons did maybe 30% of all my education. 70% was all on me doing what I mentioned above.

The best part about watching videos, listening to music and reading is that all of those are fun and entertaining, so you aren't really "working" or studying.

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  • 2 weeks later...

If you are new to the language, I would start with some flash card to learn the most basic words. However, if you are a more than a beginner, I would suggest reading some short stories.

My upper level Spanish courses in college were based around short stories. The great thing about short stories is that you will be exposed to the terminology of whatever topic the book is about. For example, my Spanish class read some stories about the Chilean mines. We learned a lot of words that were used to describe the mining industry and culture.

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I read a lot to improve my vocabularies, if I find a word that I don't know, I will surely get a dictionary to look for a meaning. So to me reading is really helping me. I also watch movies, that also helps me.

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I like to think of vocabulary as the ability to use the most appropriate words to deliver your message accurately. I've always been told, even as a child, that reading is the best way to improve your vocabulary.

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For standard vocabulary, I'd say reading is the best way to pick up many words. And with an audiobook, you will not only have the spelling and the meaning by context (in some cases) but also the correct pronunciation. For casual speech, slang, and idioms, urban or regionally set books are best, as well as, movies, music, television shows, and social media sites.

I'm not really pro-flash cards, unless they're sentences. Learning random vocabulary out of context isn't ideal.

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