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How to Increase Vocabulary – Studying English Vocabulary

In this American English pronunciation video,
we’re going to over how to increase your vocabulary. One of the challenges in learning a foreign
language is remembering all of the new vocabulary. In this video, we’re going to go over a
few tips for learning new words, and for remembering them. First, expose yourself to the language. For
example, read. I still learn English words from reading. I find that every couple of
months the New York Times uses a word that either I’ve never heard before, or that
I’ve heard but I’m not totally solid on the meaning. So I look it up, learn the meaning,
and then go back to the sentence and solidify it. One good idea is to think of another word
that you know that you could replace it with in that sentence. A word that wouldn’t change
the meaning. Then say the sentence with that word. Tying the new word to a word you already
know, and studying it in the context of the sentence will help you remember it. If you know my channel, you know it’s a
pronunciation channel. Always learn the pronunciation when you learn a new word. When you look up
a word in the dictionary, the pronunciation is always right there. Many online dictionaries
also play an audio file so you can hear a native speaker say the word. Practice it out
loud several times. You want to read at the right level to learn.
If it’s too easy, you won’t learn many new vocabulary words. If it’s too hard,
you don’t really get the context because there’s too much that you don’t know.
Try reading at a level where you look up, at most, one word per sentence. As you discover new words in your reading,
write them down, along with the meaning and the context. You can either use a notebook,
or flashcards if you prefer that. Make a system that works for you so you know you’re going
to actually go back and study the words again. Most words you won’t remember from just
looking it up once. When you look the word up, look for related
words or other forms of the word. For example, let’s say you’re learning the word ‘adjust’,
which is a verb. You may find in the dictionary that ‘adjustable’ is an adjective and
‘adjustment’ is a noun. Write these down too. It’s also a good idea to look for one antonym
or one synonym. An antonym is a word with an opposite meaning, and a synonym is a word
with the same or similar meaning. So, let’s say you’re learning the word ‘blurry’.
A synonym would be ‘fuzzy’. An antonym would be ‘clear’. If any of these words
are unknown to you, write them down too. You can find synonyms and antonyms by looking
in a thesaurus, like Another great way to learn vocabulary is to
watch TV, movies, and online videos. But you can’t just sit back, relax, and be entertained.
You can do that sometimes, you’re going to learn more if you actively participate
in learning. When I was in Germany, I watched a lot of TV with my notebook in hand. When
I heard a word or phrase that I knew I could identify but didn’t know the meaning of,
I immediately stopped paying attention to the television, or paused what I was watching,
and wrote down the word. Then I looked up the meaning and wrote down the context. It
was so easy to remember new words I picked up this way because I had the visual of what
I had been seeing, I had the visual of the word written down, and I practiced out loud
several times. The context of the situation helped solidify that word or phrase. If you
can rewind and watch again, do this, and pay attention to the pronunciation. Imitate the
pronunciation out loud 5 or 6 times. Make sure you write the pronunciation down, either
using IPA or another system that works for you. This is also great for learning phrases or
sequences of words that are frequently used. When I was in Germany watching a drama, I
heard the phrase: Es tut mir furchtbar leid. I had never heard this phrase before. I knew
‘es tut mir leid’, which means “I’m sorry”, so I recognized the phrase, and
I learned a new way to intensify it with ‘furchtbar’. I’m terribly sorry. When you learn a new phrase, write it down.
Ok, so what do you do with all of these words and phrases you’re writing down? By learning
them in the context of reading or video, you’re already helping yourself memorize them. But
you’re still going to have to put in some work. Try to memorize, really solidly memorize,
3-5 words a day. If you have a great memory, then maybe go for 10. But limit yourself to
that. Tip 1 for memorization: The Laura tip. I’m
naming this after my friend who was studying Spanish abroad. Laura would write down and
learn four or five new words that she heard in conversation throughout the day. At the
end of the day, she would turn them into a song. This might involve gestures or movements
to help her understand. It might contain just the word, if the gesture was clear, or the
word and definition, or the word in a sentence. Adding music, adding a melody, really helps
your brain hold onto information. She taught me one of her songs and I still remember it,
8 years later. And I wasn’t even trying to study Spanish at the time. Let’s come
up with an example song. Let’s say you’re learning the words sprint, deceive, increase,
and concern. Your song could go something like this: Sprint! Don’t deceive me. Increase. I care
because I’m concerned. Don’t spend much time on it. It should be
short and fun. Sing it 10 or 12 times. Then sing the one from yesterday a few times. Adding
motion and melody will help you memorize. It doesn’t matter at all what the melody
is, or even if you’re musical. It will still help you remember. Tip 2 for memorization: Repetition and grouping. Go over your vocabulary words many times.
Practice them out loud. Repetition is extremely important. If it’s a tough word to pronounce,
slow it down, don’t rush: immediately [4x]. Put the words in groups and drill the groups
together. Then group them differently and drill again. For example, if you wrote down
10 words or phrases while watching one episode of the Sopranos, practice those words together
and think about the episode and the context for each word. Or, group them by vowel sound
in the stressed syllable, for example, furniture, unearth, burley, return, jury, blurt, curse.
These words all had the UR vowel in the stressed syllable. Or, organize your words by stress:
typical, period, numerous, everything, difficult, curious, DA-da-da. These were all three-syllable
words with stress on the first syllable. Or, organize the words by meaning, grouping together
words of similar meaning. Or group them by how well you know them, putting words you
know really well in one group, words you kind of know in a second group, and words you need
a lot of help with in a third group. Creating various groups will help you memorize, and
will make drilling vocabulary more engaging. Tip 3: Visualization. When you learn a word,
come up with a picture for it, a mini-story in one picture in your mind that makes sense
to you. This is a common mnemonic device, and you probably used it when learning vocabulary
in your own language. So, absorb as much of the language as you
can through reading and watching video, or even writing down words from conversation
around you. Organize these words in a system that works for you: maybe a notebook, maybe
flashcards. And get creative when memorizing. The more often you come back and study your
vocabulary words, the more you’ll be able to remember them and to use them yourself
in writing and conversation. Do you have other methods for learning vocabulary?
Let me know in the comments below. Also, I’m happy to tell you that my book,
American English Pronunciation, is available for purchase. If you want an organized, step-by-step
resource to build your American accent, click here to get the book. Or, see the description
below. I think you’re going to love it. That’s it, and thanks so much for using
Rachel’s English.

100 Replies to “How to Increase Vocabulary – Studying English Vocabulary”

  • Dear Rachel, Pls help me with my E. We say "mother-in law"," father -in law", "son-in law",.. can I say "uncle – in law" for uncle of husband or wife , "nephew-in -law " for nephew of husband or wife? Being a non native speaker it is uncertainly for me to make new words because I wonder if it is the way native speakers do. Your answer help me a lot. Tks.

  • Dear Rachel. Tks for your last reply and your heart. My next questions is for pronunciation. I do not live in place where E spoken as a second language so I can not learn E sounds automatically as way people in English speaking countries do. What I study is from textbooks only and sometimes from audio discs with quality of discs is very bad so it is not easy for me to hear sounds clearly. Besides, the way textbooks or text audios show is very difference from real English. Textbooks teach us Written E only then we use Written E to say, to speak. What we, students, say sounds we are reading alound a book. It does not sound naturally at all. For example we taught “A: Hello, how are you? B: I’m fine thank you. And you?” but Americans say “Hey guy/ What’s up/ How’s it going?…”. Very different. We pronounce phonics, not phonemic when speaking. I do not like these. I want to speak as native speakers do though I never pronounce as beautifully as a native does. Now. Pls help me with my pronunciation.
    1/ Is the sentence “What is your name?”, described /'wɒt – iz – 'jᴐ:r- neim/ as in phonics , spoken ['w ɒ – ͵ʧ ǝr- neim] in phonemic? Sometimes I hear [' wɒ –diz – jǝ:r- neim] . What is right? What is wrong? and what is the way you, an American, speak?
    2/ “What is his name? ” /'wɒt – iz – hiz- neim/ , spkn ['wɒ – di- 'ziz – neim]
    “What’s his name? ” /'wɒts – 'hiz- neim/, spkn ['w ɒt| – 'siz – neim]
    “What is her name? ” /'wɒt – iz – ' hǝr- neim/, spkn ['wɒ – di- 'zǝr – neim]
    “What’s her name? ” /'wɒts – ' hǝr- neim/, spkn ['wɒt|- 'sǝr – neim]
    I hope you show me if my given descriptions in square brackets [ ] correct or not. If my descriptions is incorrect pls show me correct ones. Tks a lot.

  • I have been living in Minnesota about 30 year so I like your sound Pronunciation Rachel the same my learning in college MN I was high school in Vietnamese country i studied French & English however my age over 55 year but i 'm gonna practice grammar Pronunciation vocabulary Thank You for Your helping Rachel's English

  • Rachel How many words the same of sound Pronunciation They're Their There Wait Weight meet meat Roll Role hole whole piece peace die dye for four road rode pair pear blue blew wood would not knot where wear buy bye by sun son flower flowr heal heel two to too Rachel would you help me more words the same sound pronunciation

  • Rachel How many words the same of sound Pronunciation They're Their There Wait Weight meet meat Roll Role hole whole piece peace die dye for four road rode pair pear blue blew wood would not knot where wear buy bye by sun son flower flour heal heel two to too Rachel would you help me more words the same sound Pronunciation

  • Rachel' English I have lost memory is car accident about twenty years ago Now I try to learn grammar English and Pronunciation My age is 56 years old I'm worried forget everything

  • Rachel' English I have lost memory is car accident about twenty years ago Now I try to learn grammar English and Pronunciation My age is 56 years old I'm worried forget everything so I read catholic bibles and hopping God bless for me Thank you for your helping

  • a/ Hi Rachel. Pls help me for my trouble. If an apple is cut into 6 pieces. 4 pieces are eaten. There are only 2 pieces left . I should say
    “There are a few apple left on the plate.”(1)
    or “There are a few appleS left on the plate.” (2).
    In (1) “apple” is countable but two pieces are not a whole apple so plural form here is not corect, isn't it?
    The (2) it is the same as “There are some apples…..” it is not the small quantity I want to describe.
    “a fried egg”, “ a fried fish’’,….is countable and when it is cut into pieces I should say “two pieces of egg” or “two pieces of eggs”?; “two pieces of fish” or “two pieces of fishes”? .

    b/ If I have one tuna and one salmon. I cut each one into two. I should say “I have four pieces of fish” or “ four pieces of fishes” I mean that we use plural form – fish for the same kind of fish but plural form- fishes for different kinds

    c/ When A FISH is food on a plate. I means that a monolithic fish. How should I say “ a plate of a fish” “ a plate of fish”?
    When a fish is cut into small pieces then fried it becomes a food and the word "fish" becomes name of food, not a fish .How should I say ? I think when "fish" is name of food is is uncountabe. Is it corect? Tks for your help. I can't find my questions in any books so I think you can help me.

  • Dear Rachel. Other questions from me.
    a/ I say “The yard is at front of the house.” (1) because the yard is a part of the whole house including the building, the yard and the garden.
    I say “ The yard is in front of the house. (2) ” the “house” here means the actual building and the yard is in front of it own. What is perfect? What is not? or both are accepted?

    b/ There is a yard at the front of the house and there is an apple tree IN the yard. Should I say “The apple tree is IN FRONT of the house.” or “The apple tree is AT THE FRONT of the house.” I think the tree is not a part of the house, it only stands in the front yard.

    c/ Should I say “The fence ( of the house) is IN FRONT of the house.” or “ The fence is AT THE FRONT of the house.”? Is “the fence” considered to be a part of the house?

    d/ Sometimes I see: “My room is AT THE front of the house. “
    and “ The kitchen is IN THE front of the building.” . What is right?
    Tks for your help.

  • I do know you do not teach grammar. But I think you are a native speaker. You do not need to explain grammar rules. Just tell me what you say in the given situations. I don't know who I can ask. Pls help me.Tks a lot for your help.

  • Mam it's really awesome nd I learn more
    And I try to learn new words and your all videos are bestest ……👌👌👌👌👌

  • Dear Rachel. We pronounce the word “desk” [desk]. How is “desks” pronounced? Is it pronounced [desks] or [des] with the sound [k] is removed? Tks a lot.

  • Hi Rachel. I have the word "cemetery". I see in the English Pronouncing Dictionary by Daniel Jones ['se-mǝ-tr|i] . I have also heard ['se-mi-teri] by a native speaker. What is the common in American accent? Thank you very much.

  • Hi Rachel, I am a subscriber of your really helpful Chanel and a non-native English speaker, I can't agree more with you on methods of vocabulary building. I use creative ways to memorize new words, too. I drew some hundred pictures of unfamiliar words myself. And there is a rather clumsy but truly helpful way I want to recommend here, that is dictionary reciting. How do you think of it?

  • Hi Rachel,
    I don't watch tv or listen to music. Is there any vocab book you would recommend?.

    Thank you.
    Been watching 3-5 videos every day. Thank you for your time. Really appreciate it.

  • You are amazing.These are really helpful ways to learn english and I use both.I love F.R.I.E.N.D.S tv show and read english novels plus I read alot of native speaker comments.I think that help me alot.

  • I thought amazing this video, I loved the scenario behind you ! It's all black.

    My method to memorization is Ankidroid and other

  • Thanks for your amazing way
    I have one proplem I don't know what I should learn first vocab or pronanuncation or grammar or listening
    And I don't know what time should I take today to learn
    Thanks again

  • Definite.y you came out with the best tips to develop English skills. One of the methods that I have been using in order to memorize words and phrases, is putting some rhythm to the words and walking while I am learning them, be sitting while learning English is not my best strategy. For many years walking has been my best friend to keep me alert and awake to learn more and more. Thank you so much for being for us and help us to improve our English.

  • こんにちは、交換したい日本人はいつも私にメッセージを送ることができます、だけに私も日本語の練習が必要がある。私からそれは高く評価されるだろう。

  • Thank you so much Rachel. All your tips are so great.I try to use them in my courses to study English. I have found most of your tips in an application called WordUp.It's so useful and similar to the tips you taught in this video.
    Thank you so much.keep it up.

  • Correct pronunciation is fine, but how about enforcing propper English grammar? I am so sick of hearing: "Me and my wife went shopping", and "My father, he drives a big car".

  • you are very very very -sooo—sweet and perfect pronunciation teacher for everybody who wants to speak and listening english:)))))))

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