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How to Use New Vocabulary Correctly

Sue Gench


One of the difficulties most English learners experience is to use new vocabulary correctly. It is a common struggle that English learners diligently memorize new vocabulary in hopes to expand their vocabulary but when it comes to appropriate usage of it they fall short research shows, although they may know the vocabulary by heart. This difficulty arises from the fact that the English language offers numerous synonyms (equivalent meaning) for one word and picking the right one is a difficult task for English learners. When I hear the desperate question of English learners "How can I use a new word correctly?" "How can I improve my vocabulary quickly?", the answer is "Hard work makes it perfect." This article offers practical and proven strategies for English learners to incorporate new vocabulary into their English.

  1. Learn new vocabulary in a context. This context should be one you are interested in, either because it is associated with your occupation, profession or vocation. Or simply this context is related to your hobby--singing, dancing, cooking, writing and, etc.

  2. If you come on a new word when reading something, do not stop your reading to find out the exact meaning of the word but instead try to understand it in the context. If you can't, read the previous line(s) again, continue on to read what it follows and guess its meaning. Keep on reading in this manner until you finish reading it.

  3. After you finish your reading, look up the new words both in the dictionary and thesaurus. The dictionary gives the definition of a word but not necessarily its synonym or the similar meaning. You will find the synonym in the thesaurus.

  4. When listening to a person speaking good English, don't interrupt the person to ask each new word you hear but listen attentively to understand the conversation. At the end ask about the word's meaning.

  5. While watching television in English, do not interrupt yourself every time you hear a new word to look it up but listen attentively to understand what is going on. Listening with your focus on the meaning--but not on words--will help you learn new vocabulary and remember it later. Choose programs (old English movies or educational programs, or entertainment) whose speaking pace are not too fast. When watching these programs, every now and then jot down a new word you hear. After you are done with listening, look up your new words both in the dictionary and thesaurus.

  6. Do Google search on new words. Type the word in the Google search box using this algorithm: "define word" (e.g., define tacky) and then visit the links on the search results.

  7. Use the new word in your speaking and writing as much as possible. Consult an authority to assist you further to better understand the word. Attend online forums, English teaching websites, and social networks. Consult us in LIVE-CHAT.

Key Words: how to use new vocabulary in English, vocabulary learning strategies




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