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How to improve your vocabulary

Vocabulary words are incredibly important. They help us become better readers, writers, and thinkers! Sometimes it can be hard to develop our vocabulary skills in a way that doesn't feel forced or boring, though. Here are three easy ways to help you improve your vocabulary:

1. Read!

If you are reading a book or an article that does not introduce you to any new words, then what you're reading is most likely too easy for you. Challenge yourself by picking up a book you've been wanting to read but you've been too afraid to start. Select a news article from a reputable online news source, such as The New York Times or The Guardian, and expand your vocabulary while staying informed of current events. You can even find a blog post about fashion or cooking if you're looking to improve your vocabulary in a particular area!

2. Taboo

This game is great if you have someone you can practice with, and it's a game I play with my students fairly often. If you're familiar with the game Taboo, this will be easy for you to understand. In Taboo, you're given a card with a word at the top that you're trying to get your teammate(s) to guess. However, there is also a list of words that you cannot say while helping your team guess. For example, if the word at the top of the card is "popcorn," some words I wouldn't be able to say would include "movie theater," "television," "butter," and "eat." I also can't say any part of the word, such as "pop" or "corn" to help my team guess. To help my team figure out the word, I could say something like "This is a snack that people have while watching something on a screen." Hopefully one of my teammates would guess popcorn! To help you with your vocabulary, if you come across a word you don't know while you're reading, create a Taboo card for that word so that the word is at the top and a list of synonyms (words with similar meanings) and/or antonyms (words with opposite meanings) of that word are below. For example, if I have the word "optimistic," some words that I would list underneath are "hopeful," "positive," "encouraging," "promising," and "pessimistic." Doing this is a LOT of fun, and it's a very easy way to make sure you remember the new words you've discovered while reading!

This is a free resource that provides students with free vocabulary quizzes while also supporting the United Nations World Food Programme. Working on your vocabulary while also supporting an important cause? Seems like a good deal to me! You can easily adjust the difficulty level of the words based on your grade level (if you're learning English, you can always start with one of the lower grade levels and slowly work your way up until you reach a level that challenges you), which is another perk of this fantastic resource.

Feel free to put all of these suggestions to use or come up with some of your own ideas and share them in the comments! And if you are interested in having reading comprehension tutoring for your student or having private ESL lessons, please contact me here!


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