Learning vocabulary

Learning vocabulary is an important part of the language learning process. The more words you have at your disposal the easier it is to construct sentences which convey exactly the meaning you wish to express.

So, how can you improve your vocabulary?

One way is to become aware of words as individual items. Choose a text to read, from the Internet, a book or magazine. Read the text, but while you are reading, highlight any words that are new to you. The text doesn't have to be too long. You want to find between five and ten words. Don't focus on understanding the text too much. You are looking to collect new words.

Some people write words in a dedicated 'vocabulary book' and next to them the meaning in their own language, having looked them up in a bilingual dictionary. That can be a useful exercise. I highly recommend cross-referencing the word; after looking up the word in English and finding the translation, look up the translated word in your own language to see what the dictionary gives as the English word. Sometimes, there is a difference. It's always best to check the meaning in a monolingual dictionary

 

Example:  

 

Bilingual dictionary : 

 English to Polish

 to hide = chować 

 Polish to English

 chować  = to hide, to lock away

Monolingual dictionary English to English

hide: to put or keep out of sight

   

A monolingual dictionary will usually give you some examples of usage.

But, learning a new word isn't just enough. Once you know the meaning of a word, you then need to know HOW to use it.

So, I ask my students to use the new words. For each new word they have to write five sentences. Then, they have to show me the sentences. I have seen many examples where students can translate an English word into their language, but out of five sentences written in English I rarely see more than two where the word is used correctly. 

If you don't have a teacher who can check your work you can use Google to search for your sentence. Put your sentence in "speech marks" and paste it into Google search. You should get something close to your sentence which will show you how the word should be used.