Do you know the longest word in the dictionary?
It is Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis.
Are you confused about how to pronounce it?
Phonetically we pronounce it as,
/nu mə noʊˌʌl trəˌmaɪ krəˌskɒp ɪkˈsɪl ɪˌkoʊ vɒlˌkeɪ noʊˌkoʊ niˈoʊ sɪs, ˈnyu/
The first look at this word makes you scared but if you break it into chunks, it becomes easy to pronounce and understand.
There are more than 15 such long words. Look up the words in the dictionary to find out.
What does learning new words mean? Why it is important for language learners?
Learning new words mean building a vocabulary. Linguists believe that a vocabulary of 2000-3000 is necessary to build for English learners and 5000 for learners who want to speak like native speakers. Building a stock of words helps us to understand and comprehend 98% of texts.
Significance of Vocabulary
Vocabulary refers to the pattern of words used in a language, in a particular context or profession, and a stock of words that an individual person knows and uses.
Along with learning English, it is necessary for us to develop and enhance micro skills like grammar, vocabulary & pronunciation.
Why do you need to expand your vocabulary?
- Expanding your word knowledge improves access to a lot of information.
- Vocabulary improves your reading comprehension.
- Useful for language learners to develop their language
- Makes you an effective communicator.
- Helps you to achieve success.
- Some words in English have their context and features related to other words.
12 ways to improve your English vocabulary
We use certain words while speaking and writing in English. There are certain tips and tricks to learning vocabulary for effective communication.
1) Pen down 10 new words that you hear every day.
Maintaining an organized pocket journal is useful. You can also use your phone, or tablet in order to take note of words that you hear around you. Jot down 10-12 words in English that you hear every day. Writing helps us to remember things.
2) Immerse in the language.
Watch a lot of English movies with subtitles. Listen carefully to the words that they use. Make a note of it and try to find out its meaning. Try to name things in English that you see around you.
In our everyday life, we come across many things that we cannot name in English or we are not acquainted with the alternative names of them.
Did you know?
- Coriander is also called Cilantro in English.
- Ham is also called Gammon. Both refer to the hind leg of a pig.
- Lollypops are also referred to as popsicles.
- French fries are also named chips or crisps.
- Capsicum is also known as bell pepper.
Word alternatives like these are often used by people in everyday life. Curious to know more about more of them? Find out.
3) Play Vocabulary games in English
An interesting way to learn new words is by playing word games. Word games help you to enhance your vocabulary as well as your knowledge. Try assessing yourself by playing online vocabulary quizzes.
Here are some interesting word games from Woodward English :
4) Read voraciously!
Reading is an important tool for expanding vocabulary. Read books, articles, blogs, and newspapers in English. Highlight difficult words and unfamiliar words that you come across. Find out its pronunciation and meaning.
5) Learn the lexical phrases.
Lexis means the total stock of words in a language and idiomatic combinations of them. There are certain lexical phrases in English that we use a lot of times while communicating.
Common expressions that we use in everyday English –
- Before I begin…,
- How do you do?
- Where are you from?
- Let me begin with..,
- By the way..,
- However, I believe…
- In other words..,
- As you can see..,
- As is evident..,
- Besides that..,
- To conclude..
There are more lexical chunks like these that we use to express ourselves or communicate.
6) Delve deep into the world of your inner voice.
You need to listen to your inner voice while learning a language or getting proficient at it. If you listen to an unfamiliar word, sentence, or phrase, try to recollect it and say it. Does it sound similar to the way you have just heard it? Having difficulty memorizing words and phrases? Make a note of them, speak, and record your voice. Listen to it often.
7) Listen & Speak!
Listen to the podcast with subtitles. Download English songs, listen to them several times, and start humming the lyrics that you see and hear. Think of the new words that you learn, speak them aloud, find out their meaning, and use it in your sentences.
8) Repeat a lot of times.
Repetition makes learning new words easier. It is an amazing way to retain words, phrases, and texts.
9) Create word associations between your target & native language.
Associate a new word that you hear in the target language with your native language. If you listen to any unfamiliar word, create vivid images of it in your mind in the native language and then translate it in the target language.
10) Create an active learning environment for yourself.
Your room should be your active learning environment. To immerse in vocabulary learning, make them a part of your daily life. Paste sticky notes at places where you have frequent access like a study place or kitchen with a maximum of 5 words written on the note.
11) Learn phrasal verbs.
Look at these sentences:
Some burglars broke into my house last night.
A riot broke out due to the rising fuel prices.
She broke up with Arnold after dating him for 7 years.
Have you ever thought why burglars break into, a riot breaks out and a person breaks up his/her relationship?
These are essential verbs that we need to communicate. It is as important as learning vocabulary.
A language learner needs to understand the difference between Continue! (Formal English) & Carry on! (Informal English).
We call these words Phrasal Verbs. They are a combination of verbs, prepositions/adverb.
Knowing these words is essential for understanding informal/formal communication and describing common actions. Also, understanding phrasal verbs will make you sound natural in formal and informal communication.
12) Use Idiomatic expressions.
We use idioms to express certain ideas and opinions.
Suppose you had a bad day at work or trouble with a colleague and your friend is very curious to know about it.
What would you do?
Either you can narrate the whole situation or you cut short the situation by saying,
“Relax! It’s just a storm in a teacup!”
Sounds explanatory as well as humorous, right?
To comprehend what someone means when they use idioms in a conversation, you need to have an idea of idiomatic expressions.
Why are Idioms important in pronunciation and vocabulary expansion?
Sometimes a perfect word doesn’t exist or we don’t get a word to explain a situation precisely, so we use idioms.
- They help us to comprehend, understand & communicate in a better way.
- They help us explain a situation in a creative and fun way.
- They build up cultural and historical information.
- They enrich our language and add precision to it.
- We can convey a lot using such expressions.
- They add humour to our context or speech.
How much Vocabulary expansion does a language learner need in India?
Research says that we need to build a vocabulary of about 3000 words, to comprehend general texts. Vocabulary can be built through reading & speaking. Therefore, engage in activities of listening & speaking, read books and newspapers in your target language, and watch English movies with subtitles.
Here is a list of common vocabularies for you to learn