5 sure-fire ways to increase your vocabulary

5 sure-fire ways to increase your vocabulary

Monday September 26, 2016,

4 min Read

Words are the building blocks of language and the key predictors of how educated, professional and social a person is. Yet, most people struggle with effectively increasing their vocabulary as they don’t immediately register new words. Grasping the vocabulary isn’t the problem, but retaining and recalling it when circumstances arise is. Updating your English vocabulary on a regular basis is an important language skill, especially when you are a working professional.


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English is a globally accepted language of communication, and its knowledge is imperative in this era of increased competition and globalisation. A professional with competent vocabulary and language skills is likely to climb the career ladder faster than others. A recent Bersin and Associates study showed that organisations with professionals who had good vocabulary were able to clearly and precisely communicate their strategies and were 113 times more likely to be extra efficient and profitable.

Similarly, a Global English study revealed that 83 percent of employees reported that poor vocabulary and language skills resulted in a negative rate of sales, efficiency and profitability in the organisation. Gaining competency in English vocabulary is imperative, especially to succeed as a working professional. So here are some easy methodologies to help you do so.

Be a voracious, regular reader

Reading is the main factor that helps increase vocabulary, by exposing you to new or repeated words, integrated into a longer story. Although stereotypes portray bookworms to be asocial and boring, reading is an effective way to improve your word list, making you more expressive through speaking and writing. It helps to look closely at words while reading and highlight the ones that appear to be central or useful or you don’t know the meaning of. Engage with the material on a variety of subjects and in different formats such as magazines, novels, newspapers or Internet sources.

The dictionary is your best friend

A core, indispensable resource, the dictionary helps improve and increase your vocabulary considerably. Look up the words you highlighted while reading and understand their correct spelling, meaning, alternate definitions and more by using the dictionary. A thesaurus is another valuable resource which helps you learn the connections between the words and which provides antonyms and synonyms.

Make vocabulary emotional and personal

It is tough to forget things that have touched our hearts, and we’ve all experienced this for ourselves. Neuroscientists have found that flashing new words or sentences in front of subjects, especially when it contained personally relevant or emotionally notable information, showed increased brain activity. This is an effective method to help increase your vocabulary. Combining new words with personal experiences can help retain these words. New vocabulary can be thought of in the context of places you’ve been to or people you know or even the most memorable events in life.

Pick vocabulary in context

It is found that people pick up new words when learning from context. Never learn new vocabulary from isolated lists that contain unrelated vocabulary. New words need to be part of a bigger picture. Learning vocabulary from sentences, songs, stories or daily events helps with clarifying the meaning based on the context. It also helps in attaining several new words at once into the vocabulary list.

Learning new words, the fun way

Word games enable you to exchange your vocabulary with other participants and vice versa, thereby increasing yours in an effortless and enjoyable process. This method also helps increase your retaining and recalling speed of the newly learned words. Scrabble, Quiddler, Boggle and Crosswords are excellent while trying to improve your hold on the English language. If you don’t prefer board games, you can spend time with friends and play a spoken word game such as Shiritori, Word-chain, Associations and Metaphors.

Learning is a ceaseless process and can be cultivated at all ages by building your vocabulary. It is essential to have improved English language skills in order to have a successful career. The success of businesses lies in the competencies and capabilities of employees, which means improving your English language skills can assist you in becoming a vital asset to the company you work for.