Vocabulary building for English learners.

How to build vocabulary

I was recently asked for advice on how to build up vocabulary. I am asked this a lot…

Learning new words can be as boring or as exciting as you make it. Let’s break down the task at hand, which is simply collecting words and finding their meaning. Below is a list of the things you can do in order to increase your vocabulary.

So let’s deal with the first part of the task…Finding words!


Words are everywhere! You are not going to find it difficult to find them. But don’t limit yourself to the obvious. I once saw an English language lesson taught entirely from the words on a Coca Cola tin. The humble Coke tin has everything for an English language lesson: Single words, sentences, adjectives, verbs – even numbers and pictures. So, next time you have a Coke, don’t just throw the tin away – read it first! If you enjoy reading books, that’s fantastic, but don’t stop every time you find a word you don’t know. It’s much more useful to continue reading and note the words you don’t know so you can search for them at the end. If you don’t enjoy books then, like the Coke tin, there are plenty of other things on which you can find words to build your vocabulary. Here are a few other sources of words:

Food and Drink Cans
Song lyrics
CD and DVD covers                                                                                                            Signwritten vans and trucks
Advertising leaflets

Become enthusiastic

You must train yourself to always lookout for words. Become pro-active in reading and listening for any words that other people know and you do not.

Set yourself a goal

Try to find new words every day. Even if it’s only two or three. As soon as you start being enthusiastic about looking for new words, you’ll find that new words are all around you. Think of the process of building your vocabulary as rolling a ball. Once you start, once you overcome the inertia and get the thing rolling, it’ll be easy to keep it going – but it will need that initial push!

Collect! Contemplate! Contain!  Then Construct!

Whenever you get new words, reflect on their meaning and then start to use them in your everyday speech and in writing. You might get the context wrong at first, but gradually, your word bank will begin to fill and your spoken and written language will become more varied and interesting.

Where can you find the meaning of these wonderful new words? Yep, a dictionary. There are many to choose from these days and even an old, second-hand one is better than nothing. You can even collect words while you are out and when you get home find the meaning using one of the many online dictionaries.

If there are any resources that you think you might find useful, please let me know and I will see what I can do.

Study hard and practice!



About metoenglish

I'm a CELTA-qualified, online English language teacher. I'm relaunching the MetoEnglish site and gradually bringing this blog back up to speed. I can provide a variety of English language services so, if you're looking for ESL/ESOL services and resources, or want to improve your English language skills, please email me for more information. Thanks! Mike
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2 Responses to Vocabulary building for English learners.

  1. Just wanted to chime in and inform you that the search box doesn’t work as it used to… Maybe you should switch to another plugin

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