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How to drastically expand your English vocab

My teacher is good…my wife is nice…traffic is bad – BORING! You’re probably used to saying these basic words and that’s okay…but don’t you think its time to expand your vocabulary? Here are some tips to take your fluency up a gear.

  1. Read, read and read. Then read some more.
    Studying vocabulary in context helps you see how we use it in everyday English. This may be simple, but it can really push our language skills to another level. You can also develop your own ability to guess meaning from context. There are free magazines and newspapers all over London and what better time to read them, than on your commute to school or work? Pick up a paper and find an article which interests you. If you do this daily, you’ll notice a vast difference in your vocabulary. Next time you come across a word, take a moment to look at the context it’s been used in and try to find a similar word to replace it. If you’re ever unsure, use a dictionary – I mean, that’s what they’re for right? Sure, your teacher is more than ready to assist you, but independent learning is really important in achieving your goals. The more you read, the more words you’ll be exposed to. It’s basically a free English lesson, so pick up a paper and get reading!
  1. Keep a journal of words
    It’s a good idea to keep an index of commonly used words, e.g. nice, lovely, sad etc. and next to them, write some more interesting synonyms. You can use an online thesaurus to check synonyms. This site is quite handy, just type in a word and it’ll give you a better one. Next time you’re in class and you’re lost for words, check your index and amaze your peers with your vocab skills.
  1. Play word games.
    I’m currently addicted to a game on my phone called Wordscapes. As pictured, it’s a word game where you make as many words as you can, which in turn fit into the gaps. This is a great way to learn new words and can also be revision for words you may well have come across before. There are over 100 levels (I’m on level 154). Another game I’d recommend would be Scrabble. It’s another game which really tests your vocabulary knowledge and ability to form words but will also allow you to learn new words. There are tons of free word games available on your mobile apps so have a look and find a game which suits you.
  1. Try a graded reader
    If you’re an avid reader, (use a thesaurus to check the meaning of avid) you may prefer graded readers to newspapers or magazines. Graded readers are novels or plays, which are changed to suit the levels. You can find a range of classical books and plays at the level you desire; from Shakespeare to Sherlock Holmes, there’s sure to be a book that suits you. You can find graded readers at most bookshops, just double check the level you feel is right for you with your teacher. Happy reading!

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