Three Easy Ways to Improve Your Vocabulary

Submitted by SharpMan Editorial Team on Sunday 10th October 2010
In this article
  • How to learn new words.
  • How to use new words.
  • How to retain new words.
Three Easy Ways to Improve Your Vocabulary

Tip One: Get Offline and Read.

Sure online reading (particularly SharpMan) is great, but most online text is designed to appeal to the widest possible audience, and is unlikely to challenge your vocabulary. Get offline and pick up a good book. Try to read a few pages every night, as you commute or when you exercise. When you read, don’t gloss over words you don’t know — take the time to look them up or jot them down for later. Keep a notebook of the words you don’t know and look up their meanings when you get a chance. Quiz yourself on the words and definitions in this notebook at least once a week. Once you feel that you’re comfortable with a new word, make a point of using this word in conversation — one word once a day.

Tip Two: Do Crossword Puzzles.

Sure, crossword puzzles seem like games, but most puzzles — particularly those in The New York Times — include a good number of words you may never have heard of. In fact, studies show that regular crossword puzzle enthusiasts have more developed vocabularies. Try to do a crossword puzzle at least once a week. Don’t leave any answers blank. If necessary, look up the answers and make note of the definitions of words you didn’t know. As with Tip One, list these words and definitions in a notebook. Quiz yourself on this list at least once a week and make a point of using one new word in conversation daily.

Tip Three: Get a Set of Vocabulary Cards.

Many SharpMen haven’t seen or used these since studying for the SATs — but they’re a great way to bring new words and definitions to your attention without having to carry around a dictionary. Usually vocabulary cards come in box sets similar to the Trivial Pursuit™ games. Each card has a word on one side and a definition on the other. Make a point of pulling out one card every day. If you know the meaning of the word printed, move on to another until you come across an unfamiliar word. Then use this word in a sentence that day. Review a week’s worth of cards at the end of the week and again on a periodic basis.

This article last updated on Sunday 10th October 2010
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