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How to study Vocabulary

Anybody that has studied any language long enough knows that vocabulary is the real strength of the language. The more vocabulary you learn and use, the better you are in becoming a speaker that is proficient. Not only that, it shows that you are growing in the language.

When you speak- and you speak just a little in your own language, getting larger vocabulary is a way that can get you you ahead in communication.

In this post we will be ways of studying vocabulary. During this week we'll be looking at them in depth. Here's a general list

  1. You can study the root words and discovering more about them.
  2. Take a look the word surrounding the vocabulary
  3. And the best way - learning it in context.

We'll just be looking at these briefly and talk about them more in depth during this week.

Root words and the beauty of them

In simplicity, studying root words is finding the base meaning. You take a word like "misunderstand", and then break it down to the root. - in this case, "understand". But if you look at it more you can find not just the root words, but even the roots of the roots. The etymology of the words. To me, this is when studying vocabulary starts to get fun.

Almost exactly the opposite of that is studying

The phrase and surrounding phrases

No word happens in isolation. All words occur with other words and other meaning. Word, phrases, vocabulary that often occur together are called "colocations". (See above about root words - co, and locate.) This is basically what phrasal verbs are. They are sets of vocabulary that have "co-located" often enough that they have become phrases. What you can do is study the added part rather than root. For example vocabulary like "up". You have hurry up, drink up, think up, speak up... By learning the extra part (not the main part of the verb), you are trying to understand the vocabulary and the sense behind it. Also, quite fun, but certainly the most useful way of learning vocabulary is...

Vocabulary in context

There are just so many examples of learning in context, I'm not going to go through them all now. But here are a few. Speaking in conversation about one topic, reading in books, watching in films and TV. The difficulty in this is that they are random and you don't always know which words are going to appear. But when you add one word you can start adding more. I have noticed both with the learners I have taught and my own language learning that more vocabulary comes the more I use the words I have.

Stay tuned for more about learning vocabulary and other language tips. 


Communcaiton, englishlearning, ESL, vocabulary

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