The Best Ways to Increase your English Vocabulary

Language learning doesn’t have to be difficult – here are some great tips on how to improve your English vocabulary with minimal effort.

Cognate words: Words that have a shared origin.

When studying a foreign language you may have noticed that some words look similar, or even identical, to words in your own language. This is because they are derived from a common linguistic ancestor. English shares many of its Latin and Germanic roots with its geographical neighbours – for example, the verb “to observe” in English is very similar to the French verb “observer”, the Spanish verb “observar” and the Italian “osservare”. Don’t worry if your native language isn’t Latin or Germanic based, most languages have a deceptive amount of cognates that they share with other languages. Learning cognate words is an easy way to improve your English- it may seem like you have learnt hundreds of words effortlessly.

Don’t stop at one word:

The trick is to keep going. Don’t stop at one word- try to learn the associated words too. For instance, if you learn the adjective ‘beautiful’, why not learn the noun ‘beauty’, the very ‘beautify’ and the adverb ‘beautifully’. If you’re feeling courageous, why stop at four…? There are always more associated words.

Loan words: Words borrowed from other languages.

All languages have loan words, or words that they have borrowed and incorporated into their own language with little or no translation. These loan words and phrases pepper the English language, and in many cases native speakers are not even aware that they are using foreign words. For instance words such entrepreneur or café come from French, karaoke, origami and ninja are all words directly taken from Japanese, and tofu and typhoon were adopted from Chinese. Even the words chocolate (Nahuatl language) and banana (Wolof) have their origins in modern day Mexico and Senegal. Learning loan words helps you to become familiar with words that you may already know!!

Reading: Read about what you are interested in.

Some of the most valuable advice that people give for learning new vocabulary is to read, read and read. To read whatever you can get your hands on. This is obviously very good advice, but it is also important to read things that you have an interest in or that you are passionate about. For instance, if you love travelling, it would be a good idea to read blog articles on different destinations; if you are interested in psychology or science, reading books and articles on these specific topics are a great way of enhancing your knowledge in a subject you enjoy, as well as improving your English language skills with minimal effort.

Write: Use the new words that you learn

Practice new words by writing them. The best way to remember words is to use them within a sentence or specific context. Keeping a diary in English is a great way to develop your language skills, as well as a new life skill. You never know, you could be the next J.K. Rowling.

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