By Avii Pineda
When it comes to improving your reading efficiency, several things come into play. This primarily includes the type of text being read and the reader’s handle on the English language. The reader (a.k.a. you) will find it much easier to apply good reading strategies if you already have a solid grasp of the grammar and a large pool of English vocabulary to begin with.
It can be pretty hard to sit down and focus on learning to improve your grammar and expanding your English vocabulary when you’re simultaneously living a very hectic lifestyle. The good news is that you don’t need to go out of your way to accomplish these! Here are 10 things you can do regularly that will help you improve your English skills in several ways.
1. Watch Series, Movies & Videos
You’re most likely doing this already on your down time, but you can use this leisure activity as a more productive use of your time! Choose series and films that are originally in English, preferably those with neutral accents or where the actors articulate (Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, Friends), so they’re easier to understand.
Every now and then these shows use several words that you’re not familiar with or have never even heard of. Keep a pad and pen near the area where you usually spend time watching and take note of these words so you can look them up later.
Another great way to learn English but also any other language is to use video platforms such as YouTube or Vimeo. They cover a wide range of topics, and it is easy to expand language skills by following a subject of interest.
2. Turn on the Subs
Can you guess what sounds the actors are making? There will be times you can’t. When you’re unable recognize a word and can’t even make an educated guess as to how to spell it, looking it up can be tedious task. Well, that’s precisely what subtitles are for. Turn on the subs to make it easy for you to catch what they’re saying word per word.
3. Read constantly
Nothing is more helpful at expanding your English vocabulary than reading a good book! Correction: plenty of good books. Read a wide variety of material, from novels to comic books and magazines, for a more diverse pool of terminology.
4. Carry a Dictionary
Having a dictionary with you at all times is extremely helpful for growing your English vocab. However, it is impractical to constantly carry around such a thick and heavy book. A better alternative is to download a portable dictionary such as the mobile app Tapxicon. This app can bring you the definition of any word in less than a few seconds, as well as the pronunciation, phonetic notation, synonyms, antonyms, and usage. Tapxicon also includes the word’s origin and conjugation of verbs which is a good reason to give ti a try. You can try Tapxicon here (Google Playstore).
5. Keep a Journal
Writing is just as important as reading in building your vocabulary and grammar skills. Even when you constantly learn new words it’s easy to forget them when you don’t use them. Write daily on a journal to help you practice proper usage of new words and exercise your general skills in composing English sentences. Using new words repeatedly, even on a journal, will help you retain them more quickly. You can also refer back to your journal for the latest additions to your vocab at any time.
6. Do word puzzles
Word puzzles and other word games generally incorporate both common words and some rather unusual ones that you can add to your English vocab pool. They provide enough of a challenge to be interesting and to stimulate your brain. Crosswords and word searches are especially effective for improving spelling skills.
7. Put a reasonable limit
WARNING: Attempting to learn too many words at once can actually be counter-productive! It will overwhelm you and increases the likelihood of forgetting more words than you can remember. Keep it to a maximum of 15 words per day.
8. Follow Grammar Blogs
Grammar blogs offer various resources, tips and tricks, and exercises that are helpful for boosting your grammar skills. Even if you refer to it just a few minutes each day, it can add up to a huge improvement.
9. Ask friends for corrections
Remove the word ‘humiliation’ from your dictionary (not literally, as that would be counter-productive to what we’re trying to achieve here) and take criticism from others as an opportunity to learn. Ask friends whom you know have impeccable English to gently call you out privately and correct your mistakes.
10. Identify common mistakes
Find out where you go wrong most of the time. Keep it in mind so you can determinedly fix it. This gives you a specific goal and keeps you focused on that particular area of improvement. Once you correct the mistakes you make most often, you’ll be surprised how big of an impact it makes on how you speak and write!
Learn English Vocabulary – Conclusion
English is such a complex language that even native speakers make mistakes often. It’s perfectly natural. There are many ways to learn English or any other language as well. My favorite strategies are reading books, watching movies, and apps such as Tapxicon that offer a convenient way to help close these gaps systematically, supporting anyone at any level who wants to grow their English vocabulary.
I hope these tips will be useful to handle any situation when you find yourself exposed to random words in forms, contracts, signs, instructions, and the like mean, no matter where you are. There’s no doubt that you’ll always find opportunities to become a more skilled wordsmith.
From the blog: 6 Effective reading strategies
What are your favorite ways to learn English vocabulary? Feel free to share your tips and tricks in the comment section below. Any questions? Please drop us a line via the contact form.