How to improve your English vocabulary

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Improve your English vocabulary
Photo: Stuart Miles,

One very common problem for English learners is learning new vocabulary words and then forgetting them – so when you want to use a particular word in conversation, you can’t remember it at that moment.

It’s so annoying, and so common!

Does this ever happen to you?

The reason for this difficulty is that most students try to learn vocabulary by studying lists and dictionaries and memorizing the words…

…but this is NOT effective (unless you naturally have a very good memory!)

But there is something you can do to learn English vocabulary and remember the words successfully, and that is:

When you learn new English words, USE them immediately!

You can do this with a very simple exercise.

Every time you learn a new word – for example, from an article, from a book, or from an English lesson – first, write it down in your vocabulary notebook. The action of writing is more ACTIVE than just reading a definition.

Improve your English vocabulary
Photo: Jomphong,

You should write in your vocabulary notebook:

  • The word
  • The definition in English (or translation)
  • 1 example sentence from the article or dictionary
  • 1 example sentence that YOU create

Imagine you just learned the word “generous.” Write in your vocabulary notebook:

  • WORD: generous (adjective)
  • DEFINITION: when a person gives time / money freely
  • EXAMPLE 1 (from the article):
    “Thanks for paying for my dinner. You’re very generous.”
  • EXAMPLE 2 (my example):
    “My brother is generous because he volunteers at the animal shelter on weekends.”

It’s best if your example sentence is true or relevant to your life, because this creates a personal connection with the new vocabulary word.

The next day, read your vocabulary notebook again – because it’s important to review after some time has passed – and then try to add one more example sentence using the new word. This helps establish it even better in your memory.

Improve your English vocabulary fast
Photo: smokedsalmon,

Do you have a vocabulary notebook? Start one today!

Your homework for today is to start a vocabulary notebook.

Read a text in English, identify 5 new words, write them down in your vocabulary notebook along with the definition and 1-2 example sentences.

This is a very simple strategy, but it makes a big difference in helping you remember new words and improve your vocabulary faster!

My Vocabulary Builder Courses also make it very easy for you to practice new words immediately! Every lesson teaches you lots of useful English words, and then at the end of the lesson there’s a quiz to help you review AND short-answer exercises to help you write your own sentences using the words you learned. You can send in your sentences to get feedback and correction from the Espresso English teaching team.

You’ll learn – and practice – more than 1000 words inside each level of the vocabulary builder. I hope to see you inside!

Thanks for joining me today, and now go start that vocabulary notebook, and you’ll be able to see your memory and vocabulary expand week by week.

Want to increase your vocabulary
& improve your fluency?

English Vocabulary Course

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