Once, one of my students approached me with a concern; he couldn’t find an English book that would keep him interested. Trying to figure out what’s the catch, I asked him what his favorite movies were. Shy at first he answered ‘Zombie Land. It’s a about zombies and stuff…’ Next lesson I’ve handed him a copy of Walking Dead comics. ‘This is for kids, isn’t it?’ he shrugged. Long story short, he ended up reading all of the series on his own and even went to Comic con with his daughters.
I don’t expect all readers to find joy in comics, but it’s one of the many options to consider. When reading to improve your vocabulary, you should be aiming to understand around 70-80% of the words; otherwise, you will end up with too much on your plate. If you feel confident in your English skills and the books of your choice, feel free to jump to the second part of this article . However, if you wish to find out about easier reads, here’s the list of my top picks:
Step-by-step guide how to learn new words
STEP 1: Identify
When reading, underline new words and phrases. If you’re an e-book kind of person, get the most of it by using the highlight feature.
NOTE: Keep in mind that you don’t have to mark all of the new words. Move at your own pace!
STEP 2: List
Once you’ve finished reading a chapter, come back to previous pages and compile a list of your new vocabulary. You can use a paper notebook or have a virtual list on your device. When you write down a new phrase there are a few things you should consider:
· Meaning. Don’t rush to translate new words into your native language; instead, look for definitions! Most dictionaries will give you way much more information, such as type and possible meanings of the word, synonyms, antonyms and more!
· Pronunciation. You can always check how the word is pronounced using various online dictionaries or even Google Translate. If you’re using an online dictionary such as Oxford Learner’s Dictionary you can even choose between British and American pronunciation.
STEP 3: Memorize
Repetition is the key when it comes to memorizing new vocabulary. Choose a method that fits your lifestyle the best! Here’s a list of our favorite methods:
· Use paper flashcards to memorize new vocabulary.
· You can also create virtual flashcards. Programs such as Anki, Memrize and Tinycards let you create your own sets!· Decorate your room with sticky notes containing new words.· Create your own word puzzles
STEP 4. Contextualize
Words in isolation are useless like tits on a bull. That’s why you should unleash your creativity and put them into meaningful context!
Using your new vocabulary you can:
- Write new sentences for each word
- Write a movie or a book review
- Create a short story
- Write a blog post
- Post on a discussion sites
- Slip them into your conversations
- Write a journal
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