How to Improve Your English Vocabulary

One way we can have more fun with English and improve our English skills is to learn more vocabulary words!

Not just read them or hear them, but actually KNOW them and know how to use them in conversation. If you want to be a more interesting English speaker, whether you’re a native or non-native English learner, vocabulary is the way to do that!

How Do We Learn More Vocabulary?

How do we memorize more vocabulary words so that we can make them an active part of our own everyday conversations? Well, buckle up, hang on, and come along for this video. I’m going to share several tips and strategies – ways that I have improved my own vocabulary in English, my own language, and other foreign languages that I have learned throughout the years.

How Do You Say “Beet” in Portuguese?

When I was living in Brazil, I used these tools to remember difficult vocabulary words. For example, one of my favorite juices is beet juice, but I had the hardest time remembering how to say the word “beet” in Portuguese. It’s “beterraba.” If we have anyone from Brazil, please say hello in the comments and tell me what your favorite juice is!

I love to have fresh juice with beets, carrots, and oranges – but I could never remember the word for “beet.” That’s when I started using a connecting idea to remember that “beterraba” sounds a little bit like “bet-ter.” So, “I like beets ‘bet-ter’ than other vegetables in my juice (which is not entirely true because I also like carrots,) but your connecting ideas don’t have to be true. They just have to help you connect one word or one idea that you already know with the new vocabulary words.

“Beets are “bet-ter,” beets are “beterraba.”

Remember By Using Connections

Connection is one of the best ways that you can improve your memory and remember more vocabulary words How do we create a connector for all new vocabulary words? It’s going to be different depending on the word. It doesn’t just depend on the word, but it also depends on you, your thoughts, and what makes sense to you. Your mind, your opinions, and your experiences.

We need to create bridges between the neurons in our brains. That means connecting something that we already know to new information. With vocabulary words, you can do this by associating one with another.

I showed you one example. This is a device that helps me use the sounds from the words “beets are bet-ter” and the sounds from the new vocabulary word “beterraba.”

A Japanese “Eye-sore?”

I did this in Japanese too. When I was living in Japan, I had a hard time remembering the word for the bill in the restaurant. When I heard the word “oiso,” I remembered that this sounds like “eye-sore,” “oiso.” An “eye-sore” in English is something that is ugly and you don’t want to see it. When you get the bill, and you have to pay a lot of money for your food, it’s something unpleasant to see, right? It’s another way I made an association.

Those are examples just to tell you that the number one way to improve your vocabulary and remember words is to make connections.

What does CRU Mean?

I’m going to share an acronym – C-R-U – which is “Connect,” for the C. The R and U will be the next steps to remember vocabulary.

If you like these kinds of tips, make sure that you are subscribed here to Go Natural English on YouTube. I want you to know that GoNaturalEnglish.com is a website where you can find all of our free lessons. There are hundreds of them!  You’ll also find our ebook, the English Fluency Formula, and our complete course, the Fluent Communication Course.

On page 42 of this book, I talk about how to remember vocabulary. The first step is to make a pathway in your brain. As I just mentioned, make a connection between something you already know and the new word.

R Stands for Repeat

The next step is to R – “Repeat.” Repeat the word many, many times! For me, the new word was “beet” in Portuguese, “beterraba.” and “bill” in Japanese, “oiso.”

Keep in mind that you need to repeat a word at least 25 times to really remember it, so be patient with yourself! Learning is a process, and we need to repeat.

Use Spaced Repetition

One thing you can do is “spaced repetition.” Create flashcards and look at them repeatedly in your notebook or on actual notecards.

You can also do this when you use apps like Duolingo. Duolingo is awesome because it shows you new words over and over. Not just once, but it gives you many different exercises, many different translation activities, and games. You will see words more than once, which will help you to remember them.

It goes in order, so it helps you level up little by little. It’s great because there’s already a sequence of vocabulary words. You don’t have to make your own plan, because Duolingo is like a game, with a plan for your language learning, that is proven to help you.

I’m going to share the link to download Duolingo for free. You can learn 36 different languages, including English! You can find that link in the description, or you can go to gonaturalenglish.com/duolingo/. Again, it’s free to download and I highly recommended it! It’s fun, and it’s like a game. You can do it in your free time throughout your day, whether you’re on the train, taking a break, or before bed – whenever you like! It’s a quick way to help you to repeat your vocabulary words; to practice them and connect them with other words that you already know.

So What Does the U Stand For?

C-R-U is my acronym for memorizing vocabulary words. It helps me remember the three steps. U stands for “Use!” Use the words!

There is a difference between observing words passively when you’re just reading or hearing them. That’s part of the language acquisition process. You need input.

But in order to remember words and have them as part of your active vocabulary, we need to use them! Create sentences and write your own examples. Even creating flashcards can be a simple way to use the word.

Ways to Use New Vocabulary

Try to create flashcards with example sentences, not just the individual word, but actual phrases and sentences that use the word. You can create flashcards that help you connect the new word with a word that you already know. You could draw a picture of the word as well.

So, active use of the new vocabulary words is super important! Create your own sentences, try saying them out loud in your own imagined situations. You could even create a poem or a song where you’re using the words. Perhaps a rhyme will help you remember them.

How Can I Find New Vocabulary?

Remember that it takes time, persistence, review, and repetition to improve your vocabulary! You can actively search for new words on sites like “The Word of the Day.” You can find more words by exposing yourself to more English. Try reading the news, try listening to songs in English or watching new TV shows.

Really, our vocabulary acquisition is endless. Even native English speakers are constantly learning new words! It’s an exciting and amazing journey when you’re building your vocabulary.

Connect, Repeat, and Use

Remember to CRU – to Connect, Repeat, and Use new words. I suggest you try the Duolingo app, because that’s helped me to quickly improve my vocabulary in other languages that I’m studying, like Portuguese and Japanese.

Whether you are a pure beginner, intermediate, or advanced learner, Duolingo will find the right level vocabulary for you to help you start improving today.

If we can help 10,000 learners download the Duolingo app, we’re going to have a special live video next week on Thursday. It will be a special Q&A , and a special lesson. Make sure that you click on the link in the description, or go to gonaturalenglish.com/duolingo/, and help us to work towards this goal together, to improve our vocabulary as a community – as a GoNaturalEnglish family together with Duolingo!

Thank you so much for watching! I hope this was helpful to you and your vocabulary. Now that you know some new vocabulary, check out this post on how to improve your speaking skills! Have an amazing, incredible, fantastic day filled with beautiful vocabulary words!

Thanks so much for watching, and bye for now!

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