8 best ways to retain vocabulary in English

What is vocabulary?

According to the Cambridge dictionary, vocabulary can be defined as all the words used by a particular person, or all the words that exist in a particular language or subject. 

Vocabulary forms the core in any language and its four skills – namely speaking, listening, reading and writing. So, if you want to be fluent in English, having a strong vocabulary is mandatory. 

Common mistakes:

While it’s important for you to know the best practices to retain new words in English, let’s also dive into some of the common mistakes that you make while learning them.

  • Learning too many words at once:

Have you ever tried to learn too many words at once thinking that the more I learn new words the faster I’ll be fluent in English? Well, sadly this is going to make you all the more confused and could end up putting you in an embarrassing situation where you use the wrong word in the wrong situation. So, take it easy! 

  • Learning words that you don’t need:

Did you know that there are two types of vocabulary namely – active and passive? We often go overboard and think that we need to know as many new words as possible to be fluent in English. However, let me break this myth, you only need the words that you commonly use, that is your active vocabulary. 

For instance: If you work as a banker, learning all the technical words related to the food or hotel industry is not going to benefit you. 

  • Maintaining a huge list of words: 

Do you have a book or diary which has a huge list of words and yet you end up being blank while speaking? Writing new words to learn English is important, however, using them is more essential. Otherwise it will just be a list of words in a book. 

  • Unaware of how to use them:

Learning new words without using them is of no use. While preparing for exams you often learn new words and phrases and write them to remember. You don’t usually have the need to put them in use in your everyday life hence after a week or so you tend to forget them. For longer retention learning how to use them is important and is the best way to learn English. 

8 simple ways to retain English vocabulary

  1. Personalisation:

When you come across any new phrase/word attach an emotion or personalise it. This way you will retain and remember it for a long time.

A simple way to personalise vocabulary is as follows:Write 3/5 sentences related to the word in your everyday life. For instance if the word is ‘commute’ write 3/5 sentences related to commute and your everyday life. This helps you attach an emotion and you retain the word. E.g.:

I commute by bus daily to school/work.

Commuting to work every day is challenging as I stay far from work. 

  1. Relevance: 

You only remember words that you actively use or hear. Do not try to learn all the words you read or listen to.

For instance: If you come across a word when you go out for lunch or dinner with friends or colleagues, but you are unaware of its meaning, then, I suggest you look up its meaning in the dictionary and use one of the methods discussed here to remember. For example the words ‘starter’ or ‘appetiser’.

  1. Practice:

As we discussed earlier, just having a huge list of words written without knowing how to use them is a waste. Hence, constantly interacting with your peers or friends is essential. Additionally, with enguru’s connect feature you can now easily communicate with your peers and practice constantly even outside class hours. 

  1. Play and Learn:

Learning is always fun when you can learn it while playing hence you can explore word games to remember vocabulary. The traditional game Scrabble is undeniably useful. However, with technology you have other interesting options too. Some of the interesting apps to improve vocabulary via games are:

Below is a glimpse of how you can learn words through games in the enguru app. 

  1. Combining words:

I’m sure you often find it boring or challenging when you see a list of words in front of you and that makes you feel overwhelmed. To avoid that, instead of learning words individually, learn it as a phrase or make a collocation out of it. Use the dictionary to your advantage to do this!

  1. Intervention of AI:

Use the chatbot feature in AI to your advantage. AI can make you feel like interacting with a real person while using chatbots. A chatbot is a computer program that simulates human conversation through voice commands or text chats or both.

  1. Contextualization: 

You tend to turn blank while speaking and run out of words because you memorize them without adding context to it. There are two simple ways to add context to any word.

  • First, add a story if you can’t think from your personal life make one! 
  • Second, use post-it-notes and stick them around the house. 

For instance if it is food vocabulary, stick it in the refrigerator. If the word is travel related, stick it where you have your car keys. This will add a context and you will remember it for a long time. 

  1. Feedback:

While all the points discussed above are relevant, it is of utmost importance to check whether the new words used in sentences or phrases while speaking or writing are used appropriately. Therefore feedback from a teacher or a language expert facilitates an effective way to retain it for a long time and avoid running out of words. 

The live class feature in the enguru app can connect you with a language expert and help you practice and get the relevant feedback needed. 

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