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3 Ways to Improve Your Vocabulary

Aug 17, 2007
Building up your vocabulary is arguably the most important part of a language learning process. If you don't have a base vocabulary to work with, you can't study grammar, you have absolutely no use for spelling or pronunciation exercises and writing or reading is definitely out of the question. That's why it's crucial to have a good vocabulary work-up at the beginning of your studies but also to keep building it up as you go. Here are a few ways to do this.

1. Translated texts

This is a great method to use in the beginning of your studies, when you can't handle reading (and understanding) a text solely in the foreign language you're emphasizing on. Translated texts act as a natural dictionary as they will involuntarily form connections as you read the two versions of the same text. The downside however is that if the texts are too ambiguous or too complicated, you risk misunderstanding entire phrases or mistakenly attributing meanings to certain words. That's why it's extremely important that the translated text you're working with is well written and doesn't have any slang, confusing words, words with different meanings and so forth. You should also look for the most basic translated texts at first. Don't worry if you find it silly to translate "It's hot during the summer", it's a starting point and you won't be better off skipping it.

2. Vocabulary games

Vocabulary games are a great way to enhance your word base, but they should usually be used only as an additional method for this purpose. The fact with vocabulary games is that they cannot teach you the same amount of new words as say translated texts or other methods that deal with improving your vocabulary, but they can be a fun alternative to take during those study breaks. Also, remember that everything we learn while relaxing and having fun is assimilated a lot easier and for a longer period of time.

3. Foreign language media

Media is obviously a strong source of vocabulary gain and the fun fact about it is that you won't be shedding a sweat learning the new words, as they will come naturally. Every bit of radio, TV, stationary ad, computer game or any other type of media you can watch or hear in the foreign language you're studying should be treated as an opportunity to improve vocabulary. Obviously, some languages will be harder to learn through this method, whereas others will be extremely easy (English/Spanish anyone?). If you find a good learning source, you could use foreign language media as a main method of vocabulary increase, but if these sources are scarce, you shouldn't rely solely on it.

Once you have a relatively good grasp on that language's vocabulary and you formed a solid word database with which you can work with, feel free to move on to more complex elements of the language, such as spelling, pronunciation, writing, grammar and so forth. As to where you can find translated texts, vocabulary games and even language-specific media, know that there are several language learning sites out there that provide such content for both novice and advanced students.
About the Author
Increase your foreign language vocabulary at http://www.InternetPolyglot.com by playing online games and become a true polyglot. The site contains thousands of lessons in different languages from English, Spanish, French, Russian to Hindi, Turkish, Ukrainian and many others.
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