Word power - 10 tips to improve vocabulary

by Sara

Words gradually enter a person's vocabulary over a long period of time. Having an extensive vocabulary can aid with expression and communication. Using accurate, strong and descriptive vocabulary in an English GCSE exam will help you gain extra marks!

Below are a few tips to help you extend your vocabulary.

1. If you enjoy reading, try to find material written in a different style that you are accustomed to. Diversity of topics is also important.

2. Watch out for unfamiliar words. Try and guess the meaning. The context in which the word is used can often give clues - then check the correct definition.

3. When having a conversation with somebody, remember the unfamiliar word and either ask them what it means or look it up in the dictionary.

4. Practice your new words as soon as possible, this could be via e-mail to a friend or in a conversation. Most online dictionaries provide word pronunciation either using phonetic symbols or even listening to the spoken word.

5. Get into the habit of highlighting words in your dictionary, the next time you visit the same page you will unconsciously recall the old word.

6. Play word games. The online version of scrabble gives you the opportunity to insert a word into a dictionary to view its definition.

7. Sign up to a "word of the day" service. A new word will be sent to you via email each day with its explanation.

8. Vocabulary.com provides a very quick "as you type" definition to any word. Use you imagination to try and visualise a word. Flashcards are also useful tools when trying to memorise new words.

9. Learn the roots of a word, this will help you to remember many words at a time. The word vocabulary is derived from the Latin root word voc which means "word" or "name".

10. Use a thesaurus. Look up 3 synonyms for each word. In some versions of a thesaurus, an antonym is included, this contrast can help memorise the original word.