Learning English Vocabulary

Published 11th November 2010
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Learning a new language always involves memorising a great number of words. Vocabulary repetition although a crucial part of learning is often perceived by many learners as a rather tedious task. Don’t feel like learning by heart long vocabulary lists to become a more advanced user of a foreign language? Well, if not then stop doing it! Applied linguists emphasise that vocabulary growth can be successfully achieved by other means such as listening and reading activities. And good news is that it can even occur incidentally.

There’s an evidence that learners are likely to pick up new words through listening to stories. The more interesting and comprehensible the story is and the more repetition of new vocabulary it contains, the greater vocabulary growth will occur. Now I can imagine that no one will read anything to you. Don’t worry though! Watching movies or listening to the radio can also be advantageous. Isn’t it exciting? Think of all these new words you can learn just through watching your favourite TV series! Importantly, interest provides a very strong incentive to learn. What is more, you can relatively easy guess the meaning of unknown words thanks to visual cues.

Also, reading proves very beneficial in terms of building learners’ vocabulary. It is especially effective when just a few new words occur in the reading passage. This is because a reader is more likely to correctly guess the meaning of unknown words from the context. Thus, it is a very good idea to do some graded reading. Additional advantage of reading lies in the fact that it can be done at learner’s own pace and outside the classroom settings. That’s pretty relaxing, isn’t it?

No matter what your level of English is, you can always acquire some more words through these two methods that I mentioned above. Even if your vocabulary in English is rather limited at the moment, it doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to achieve native like level in the near future. Quite the contrary is the case. According to Nation and his colleagues, an average university graduate who is a non-native speaker of English has a vocabulary size of 20,000 word families. It means that even non native speakers can get there at some point.
Feel like watching a TV or doing some reading? Yes?! Well, go on then!

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