English as a second language for Dyslexic learners English for young learners English Grammar Learn English

Learning Vocabulary

How do you learn vocabulary effectively?


This has to be one of the most asked question ever!

Unfortunately there is no “one-size fits all” answer to the question because how we learn is individual to each and every one of us.

The good news is, there are a number of different techniques to learn new vocabulary and I am sure that you will find one to suit your needs.

Learning vocabulary effectively and efficiently needs you to switch on your intuition. Without your intuition learning the word, you will remember the word in the short-term but you will probably forget it in the long-term.

So how do we switch on our intuition? We do this by attaching an emotion or a real life situation to the word we are using. If you have trouble doing this, you could always draw the word, this has the same effect as adding an emotion because we need emotion to be able to change words into pictures.



How to Effectively Learn Vocabulary:

  • The traditional way: READ – WRITE – REPEAT
  • Describe the word you want to learn without using it
  • Make a Memo game: one card  has the word you want to learn and the other card has the translation of the word
  • Play “Hangman” to learn the word: Make a few cards with the vocabulary on that you want to learn. Then start playing by turning over one card and letting your partner guess what it is.

Here is a short video “How to play Hangman”

  • Integrate the word into a written sentence. Learn the word and the sentence
  • Learn the word in context
  • Read the word out loud and repeat it as often as you can. Record yourself and even make a small quiz by describing the word and you have to guess which one it is. You can also do this for colleagues and share your quizzes with each other.
  • Learn the word using 3 columns as opposed to 2. 1 for the Englsih word, 1 for the translation into your native language and the third one is a picture of the word. It is very important that the person who wants to learn the word draws the picture and not that parents draw it for their children. It is in the drawing of the picture that the brain learns the word and how to spell the word. If you have a word that is difficult to spell or that you cannot grasp, you could always integrate the “hard” part into your drawing. E.g. if you want to learn the word squeeze: Squeeze / Translation / Picture with a “ze” integrated so that you remember this is how the word ends. Here is an example


However you learn your vocabulary, the most important  thing is that you have fun doing so. The fun factor is the key to successful learning.

Enjoy learning English with Fiona