• Milestones

A Way with Words - Part 2

In my last blog I described why learning vocabulary can be so difficult. In this week’s entry, I’ll describe some strategies you can use to help you learn new words.


It’s a good idea to create a separate notebook to record new words. The best way to organise this is by putting words into groups on each different page. These items can be grouped according to meaning (e.g. transport words), sounds (words with similar pronunciation) or spelling (words with similar prefixes or suffixes).

In this note book it’s a good idea to add the following:

a. Write the word in a sentence so you can use it in context.

b. Make notes about the use of the new word.

c. Write the pronunciation and stress.

d. Add the part of speech (verb, noun, adverb or adjective).

e. Put words into categories or sub-categories.

f. Use mind maps / word webs.

g. Write synonyms and opposites.

h. Draw pictures and diagrams and add labels.

i. Add the translation in your language.

j. Write the definition in English.

k. Does the word collocate with anything?

See if you can fill one page a day with new English words.


There are many dictionaries on the market, which are designed for learners of English. This is a great investment if you are serious about learning new words. When you see a new word, try to guess the meaning from the context (don’t immediately go for your dictionary). Then use the dictionary to check if you guessed correctly.

After you have done this, use a coloured pen to mark the word – yellow or pink works well. Then, if you look up the word again you will see that you have already researched this word and it will help you remember.


One of the key aspects of learning new words is reviewing them regularly. You need to see the same word many times in many different contexts to really learn it.

When you find a new word, try to use it as often as you can in the first day or week. You can also try repeating it to yourself to get the feel of it. Just make sure you do this in class or when you are on your own and not when you are travelling on the bus – you might get some strange looks.

Can you associate the word with a similar one in your own language?

Can you create a visual image for the word?

See how often you can find this word in books or magazines.

Stick the new words up around your house until you remember them. A great for this is on the fridge or toilet door.

Test other students regularly to see if they remember the words from previous lessons.

With regular practice I’m sure you will master English vocabulary quickly.