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Learn English: 7 ways to increase your vocabulary

How can language learners improve their vocabulary?
How can language learners improve their vocabulary?
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How do you increase your vocabulary if you're living in a non-English speaking country? Margot Palmer from Hawthorn Learning explains what you can do if you're in such a situation.

1. Exposure is key

Expose yourself as much as possible to the language you're learning. So when you're watching movies, watch movies and TV that you would enjoy in your own language. Then change the subtitles. Margot recommends three ways to do it:

  1. Listen in English and read the subtitles in your native language
  2. Listen in your native language and read the English subtitles
  3. Listen in English and read English subtitles

Other ways to expose yourself to the English language include:

  • Finding podcasts in your own language and then finding an equivalent in English
  • Finding a speaking buddy through chat apps but doing so in a safe way

2. Make learning interesting for you

Margot says that you should try and find the English equivalent of anything you read in your own language to make learning more interesting for you.

3. Subscribe to news blasts in English

Find news blasts that are published by your local newspaper. Margot says this is helpful for language learners.

"These are short and sharp news stories, often just one sentence per story. It’s relevant news to their context, it helped them understand, they could look at the pictures and understand what’s happening and it increases their vocab.

"So quite often it’s short and sharp but you don’t have to spend hours reading it."

Integrating learning into your daily life
Integrating learning into your daily life can help if you don't have much time on hand.


4. Integrate learning into your schedule

Integrate learning into your schedule and make it personal, Margot recommends.

"You can find songs you like and use websites where you listen to a song and type in the lyrics," she says.

"While you’re waiting for the bus or while you’re travelling or waiting for friend - these are all pockets of time for you to learn."

You get to a point where you can understand but you don’t have the vocabulary to reply. Now you’ve got your phone. You can use google translate.

5. Put word lists in visible places

Make lists and stick them at places around your house that you look at all the time.

"I quite often stick them next to my TV so when the ads are on and I don’t want to watch the ads, I can look at the words," Margot says.

6. Figure out your learning style

Are you a visual, auditory or kinesthetic learner? If you're a visual learner and you're trying to learn phrasal verbs, have a visual representation so you can remember the words easily.

Margot says you can group the words by the head word (i.e. get, take) or by situations (i.e. phrasal verbs to use on the phone).

"Another way is to classify phrasal verbs by the grammatical structure - one, two prepositions, separable or inseparable," Margot says.

"If you can’t get the word, get around the word."

7. Just have fun with it

Margot advices language learners to have fun and not to give up.

"FAIL [stands for] first attempt in learning," she says.

Learn English Hacks is a Facebook Live series featuring Australian teachers where they discuss challenges learners face and how to overcome them. For more information, visit our Learn English Facebook page.