Here on Globify English, I write a lot about English words for business:
I think vocabulary is really important to the success of business English learners. Knowing the right words will make your English communication at work clearer and more convincing.
If you read this blog in the past, you might know that I try to make learning new English words easier for you. I create word lists with flashcards for every lesson on a tool called Quizlet. You can use them to practice new words for free:
How to Learn English Vocabulary
There is a big problem with learning English vocabulary: After some time, our brains forget the new words.
This is frustrating. But we are not machines.
So how can you remember new words and learn vocabulary fast?
You need a system.
Over the years, I have learned six languages. I believe a good system is extremely valuable.
This is the system I recommend to learn English vocabulary:
- Listen to or read English texts that you find interesting.
- Find words you don’t know.
- Make flashcards with useful new words using online tools.
- Add the pronunciation, collocations, or example sentences to the flashcards.
- Review the new words regularly with the spaced repetition method.
1) Make a word list
It’s not enough to hear or read new words. To remember them, you have to save them.
Flashcards are cards with a word or a picture that are used to help learners learn. They can be real paper cards or digital cards.
I love flashcards. In school, I would write everything on paper cards and study them. They are still the best way to remember useful words and phrases in a new language.
Try to find new words by reading and listening to English material. It’s so important that you get a lot of input to get used to the language and to get new words in context.
Remember that you do not need to remember all unknown words on your list. Think about this: “Why am I learning English?” Then, pick important words that you will use in the future and put them on your list.
Make your own personal lists to make the words relevant to you.
Alternatively, you can adapt existing lists, for example the Globify Quizlet sets:
Here are some past vocabulary lessons:
- 10 Important Job Title Abbreviations in English
- 16 Useful Phrases to Help you Socialize in Business
- 9 English Phrasal Verbs for Business
- Use These 20 English Words Instead of “Very”
2) Use the right tool to learn English vocabulary
Whenever you read or listen to something interesting in English, you will find words that you don’t know.
That’s why it’s important to keep all the useful new words in one place. You need to know where to save your new words.
Now it’s easier than ever to do this.
It’s not necessary to write the words down in a notebook or keep a lot of paper cards with you. Today, there are many amazing free tools that help you remember vocabulary.
There are many tools, so you should choose the one that you like the most.
This tool should always always be available, preferably as an app on your phone. But if you prefer to write the words down on a piece of paper, that’s fine, too.
I recommend these vocabulary tools:
Try them and choose the one that fits you best!
You shouldn’t use mainstream tools, such as Duolingo because your word list should be personalized. Only you can decide which words are useful for you. So, it’s better to make your own lists or adapt existing lists (for example on Quizlet or Cram) for your own needs.
3) Learn the pronunciation of the new word
If you are not sure how to say the new word, you will probably not remember it.
Quizlet flashcards and some other vocabulary tools have an automatic pronunciation button. You can listen to the pronunciation and repeat it a few times. This way, you will remember the new word and it will be easier use them correctly.
Try one of these pronunciation tools:
4) Add context to the flashcards
How is the word used in real life? Example sentences and collocations (groupings of words in a sentence) help you remember new words. You will know how to use them by yourself when you speak English.
Use collocation dictionaries, such as the Visual Thesaurus.
English dictionaries are useful tools that give you a list of example sentences for each word.
You can find more tools and resources here:
5) Review the words regularly
You look at the new words once and then forget them the next week. Are you sometimes frustrated about this?
It’s completely normal. We are not robots. Although it would be amazing, our brains do not store information after reading it only once.
So how can you make sure you remember new words? How can you save these words in your long-term memory? You have to practice the words regularly, not just one time.
One of the most effective methods in language learning is a method called spaced repetition. You repeat the new words many times over a period of time, and after several repetitions, you will remember them better. The goal is to store the words in your long-term memory.
The tools I mentioned earlier use this spaced repetition method, so they make it even easier for you. You get reminders when you need to practice a word. The apps also sort the words based on which words you know well and which ones you should repeat.
In general, you should practice every day or every week. Otherwise, you will forget them.
Some tools remind you to review your flashcards. If not, set a daily or weekly reminder in your calendar or on your phone!
As language learners, we have to understand that learning is not a passive activity. It is a skill you have to train yourself. You yourself need to be in charge of your learning. Use a system to learn and memorize new words in English.
It’s not enough to go to a business English class every week. Make sure you also practice your flashcards, read books and articles, and listen to podcasts alone. Use a system to learn and memorize new words in English.
Now I would like to hear from you
How are you learning new words in English? Which vocabulary tool do you prefer?
Write your tips in the comments below!