Whatever your reason for wanting to improve your spoken English, learning English is a skill worth pursuing.
No matter if you do second-language English lessons at school, study with a private tutor or learn English online, most beginners are overwhelmed at the idea of having learn new words and memorise them.
Learning to speak English takes time, but there are still a number of ways to make memorising new words a whole lot easier.
Below are 7 memorising tips for advancing your English vocabulary.
1. Familiarise Yourself With New English Words and Grammar
When you begin to learn English you’ll encounter plenty of unfamiliar words. It’s essential that you don’t just skip the ones you don’t understand. If you don’t know what a word means then take the time to look it up in your English dictionary.
Before you turn to your dictionary though, try to figure out if the word is a verb, noun or adjective etc. This may help you to understand it better while at the same time reinforcing your language skills. When you discover new words, jot them down in a notebook.
Obviously it’s a lot more convenient to look a new word up on the internet but it’s still worth keeping a proper dictionary close at hand.
Not every definition you find by scrolling the internet is correct. Be sure to use a respected source such as Cambridge dictionary because not all online sources are equal.
Understand Every Area of English Grammar
Vocabulary and grammar go hand in hand. English is one of the more complex languages and the grammatical conjugation alone is challenging, not to mention the diverse vocabulary.
When beginning the language-learning journey, it’s important to practise speaking as much as you can with native English-speaking people.
You’ll be surprised how many words you actually already know once you begin speaking English. And there’s no need to have an extensive vocabulary in order to practise your communication skills in English.
The more you practise how to speak the better you’ll become at communicating your thoughts and learning how to use new expressions.
You can divide new words you learn grammatically:
- Prepositions (on, out, under etc.)
- Conjunctions (if, and, because etc.)
- Auxiliaries (am, is, will etc.)
- Pronouns (he, she, they etc.)
It’s these parts of speech that form the foundation of the English language and without a basic understanding of their functions, you won’t be able to improve your English.
Then you get lexical words and they’re usually easier to memorizie. The grammatical rules that apply to them are much less complicated. Lexical words are nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs.
The English language has many lexical words that are derived from other European languages. Although the pronunciation may be different, the spelling remains the same.
Plenty of lexical English words can change their meaning simply by adding Latin affixes.
2. Put Your New Vocabulary to Use
Learning new words and phrases is obviously easier if you have an aptitude for memorising. And hiring tutors or listening to English lessons online will also help increase your vocabulary.
But the odds of forgetting new English words increases with every day that you fail to put them to good use.
Here’s how you can avoid this:
- Create sentences with any new word that you learn, by doing this you reinforce its meaning which will help you remember them more easily.
- Write the sentences down. The act of writing along with speaking aloud will only boost the learning process.
- Label items in your home such as furniture pieces or kitchen utensils. Then every time you see them, you’ll be reminded of the English word.
Use the Leitner System to Boost Your English Vocabulary Practice
When you’re feeling discouraged your ability to learn is inhibited. The trick is to find ways to learn that help you to memorise successfully before you become discouraged.
An effective method for learning the English language and its varied vocabulary is the Leitner System which relies on flashcards.
This is how it’s done:
- Write a new English word on one side of a card and the same word in your home language on the other side.
- Put all the cards in five boxes.
- Focus on learning the words in box number one first.
- Then begin testing your knowledge. If you remember a word correctly it goes into the next box. If not you place it in the previous box.
- The aim is to end up with all the flashcards in the last box!
3. Learn Whole Sayings Instead of Individual Words
Sometimes it just helps to learn a complete expression instead of the individual words that make up a saying. By learning the entire saying you’ll be learning a number of new words all at once.
Try studying the various meanings that one word can have. Let’s use the word “water” as an example:
- The noun: A liquid without colour that falls as rain and is found in lakes, rivers and seas.
- The verb: To pour water on plants.
- Or: when the eyes become full of tears.
If you know all the meanings, you’ll have a greater understanding of a word which will help you to incorporate it into your conversational English.
Before you know it, a new word will become part of your day to day spoken language.
Surround Yourself With English
To become fluent in English you need to put the principle of immersion into practice. This means that you speak in English every single day. If you’re looking for the quickest way to improve your English skills then this is the answer for you.
Ideally you should plan to spend time in English speaking countries where you will be surrounded by first-language English speakers every day.
Putting your English communication skills to the test like this will better your English pronunciation and improve your fluency in a matter of days!
But because international travel isn’t always an option, there are other ways to mimic this style of learning. Make a point of only watching English television programs and reading English literature.
Practise speaking the new words you learn by saying them aloud to yourself. This way you have the opportunity to hone your pronunciation and embed them in your memory.
The human brain is very responsive to visual stimuli and this holds true when it comes to memorising, we call it visual memory.
And another way of stimulating the brain is through repetition.
Here are some ideas of how you can utilise these mental strengths:
- Label everything with sticky notes.
- Put notes of new words, phrases and English idioms on your fridge, at your desk or on the bathroom mirror.
- Then begin listing words in groups according to their functionality (kitchen appliances, toiletries etc.)
- Without putting in a conscious effort you’ll begin to remember more and more words.
4. Speak Only in English
Just like any piece of machinery, our brains need regular maintenance in order to perform optimally.
No matter how much you learn a new language by listening and practising writing skills, in order to really improve language proficiency we need to learn how to speak fluently.
Speaking brings all the written theory to life and reinforces grammar rules, sentence structure, vocabulary etc.
After all, the purpose of language is for communication.
Practise your communication in English at every given opportunity. Whether it’s to your English teacher, friends or a shop assistant, just practise speaking and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Every time you hear yourself saying a word aloud you’re reinforcing all the work you put into learning that word.
For those of you who are nervous about speaking to other people at first, try recording yourself and listening to the way you pronounce words. That way you can pick up mistakes and fix them which will not only help you improve our spoken English but also increase your confidence.
Communicate With First-Language English Speaking People
Practice makes perfect. Speaking good English fluently won’t happen overnight but the more effort you put into learning how to speak, the faster it’s going to happen.
This means you should go out of your way to find other individuals who are either native-English speakers or who can communicate fluently in English.
If you do spend time with first-language English speaking acquaintances you’ll not only learn to speak English well but you can also see it as an opportunity to discover more about other cultures.
Maybe consider planning a holiday in an English speaking country?
5. Using Technology to Your Advantage
If you enjoy gaming then take advantage of the time you spend playing and switch to and English version of your favourite game. When you’re playing online then seek out English speaking opponents and you’ll be able to improve your speaking skills while doing something that you love.
You could switch your apps to English too which will help you improve your reading and comprehension without even picking up a textbook.
Online ESOL Classes
Learning English has never been easier. With so many options at your fingertips you can easily learn English from the comfort of your own home.
If you do a simple search for English courses on the web you may be a little overwhelmed. Don’t be fooled by quick-fix promises, learning to speak good English will take some hard work and dedication.
But we’ve compiled a list of some trustworthy resources that you can browse through to get you started:
- Using English,
- British Council
If you’re a beginner, then these websites are ideal.
Then when you have got to grips with the basic principles of the English language you can start expanding your vocabulary.
Apps That Will Teach You New English Words
Instead of wasting time scrolling through Instagram and Facebook, download and app that’s aimed at improving your fluency in English. Apart from popular apps such as Babble and Duolingo there are some other equally effective apps to choose from.
ELSA is a wonderful app that helps you fine tune your pronunciation and claims to be “The world’s best English pronunciation app.”
If you enjoy an audiovisual learning approach then you’ll love FluentU 's “English immersion online”. we can’t think of a better way to start learning English with an app.
6. Just Keep Persevering
No one can tell you that learning to speak a new language is a simple task. It doesn’t come easily and it takes time, but it’s absolutely worth it!
Give yourself space to figure out how to learn English and experiment until you find a strategy that’s right for you. But no matter what, just don’t give up! If you can speak English fluently so many wonderful opportunities can open up for you.
The real trick is consistency. They say that you should dedicate at least 20 to 30 minutes to learning English every day. It’s also recommended that one should study grammar for at least three hours every week if you wish to see any significant progress.
The most effective manner in which you can learn new vocabulary is by rather focusing on fewer words at a time and instead reinforcing and repeating a few words until you have them ingrained in your memory.
If you want to learn English it’s crucial that you remain motivated. Remind yourself that to become fluent takes time. You can’t expect to hold a full blown conversation with native speakers of English after only a couple of weeks practice.
Learning how to speak good English comes with patience. If you want to express yourself effectively in English you need to have about one thousand words tucked away in your vocabulary. So use this number as a benchmark and a goal that you can work towards.
Some pointers to keep you motivated:
- Get out of poor habits that you’ve formed in your spoken English – we all have them! Keep listening to English television, podcasts and radio etc or use some of the apps we mentioned to help iron out grammar and pronunciation quirks that you know you’ve picked up along the way.
- Make targets for yourself that are easily attainable instead of putting pressure on yourself to achieve overwhelming goals. Yes, you need to learn one thousand words to have a decent conversation but you can’t learn them all at once. Break it down and aim for 200 words a month, for example.
- Set even smaller objectives, like daily micro challenges you can tick off at the end of each day. The act of acknowledging your accomplishment every day like this will boost your morale.
7. Get Good Rest and Relaxation
As we all know, sleeping is essential to every aspect of our lives. Without proper sleep our health and well-being, both mentally and physically, deteriorates.
If you want to learn then you need to get proper sleep. In fact the learning process actually continues as we are sleeping.
Try revising a few words every night before you turn your light off. As you sleep, your brain busies itself by organising and storing new facts such as English language skills.
Give your brain the break it deserves, after all it’s been working tirelessly for you the whole day. You’ll be rewarded by having all the new words and facts from your English classes neatly memorised.
And remember to make the most of the morning hours when your rested brain will be functioning at its optimum. Revise the vocabulary you studied the night before as you sip your morning coffee.
A Relaxed Mind Makes Way for Learning
Never attempt to improve your spoken English by cramming facts into your brain. Poring over dictionaries and textbooks for hours on end is ineffective. Instead, dedicate 20 minutes a day to acquiring new English skills.
Applying yourself to your English grammar studies or working on your speaking skills ever day is a good strategy.
Remember that every student learns differently. And what takes one person a day may take someone else a week – that’s okay!
As brilliant as it is to work on your speaking practice and English grammar every day, it’s also fine to take a break. Change things up and give yourself a rest day once a week.
Step away from your language classes and books and treat yourself to a good movie or binge watch your favourite English series instead. You’ll be working on your listening skills without even realising it!
Expanding your vocabulary is all about routine
At first lessons in English may not seem challenging as you get to grips with the simple aspects of learning a language. But with time as you are confronted with more advanced vocabulary (and some serious tongue twisters) you may feel demotivated. When this happens remind yourself that once you know how to speak and understand more advanced English you’ll be able to enjoy conversing with so many more people.
When you’ve learnt a fair amount of vocabulary begin to familiarise your brain and ears to the sounds of English with its varied dialects and day to day phrases. Train yourself to understand the new words you’ve memorised when they’re spoken by English-speakers and non native-speakers (and even in American-English!).
It cannot be emphasised enough that consistency is the secret to success when learning how to speak a new language fluently.
Use the time you spend with English teachers, fellow English students, English-speaking friends or family members to enquire about the meaning of unfamiliar words. This will make the learning process seem more natural and cultivate a culture of English into your daily life.
With consistent and dedicated practice you’ll soon be speaking and even thinking in English as if it were your native-language!