A great vocabulary is just one essential tool in a writer’s toolbox, along with punctuation, grammar, and many others. Vocabulary can make your writing more powerful and more effective and help you say exactly what you mean. This indispensable tool will help you choose the best word for every job and avoid vague words that do not give your readers a good sense of your meaning.
Building your vocabulary is one of the easiest ways to improve the power of your writing and make any writing task that much easier, as you will have several synonyms in your repertoire to pull from every time. Developing your vocabulary need not be difficult or painful.
Let’s have a bit of practice
Enriching your vocabulary is not as hard as you might think. You don’t need any special skills; you need to rely on systematic practicing instead – it’s a miracle worker. With every bit of effort, your knowledge becomes better and better. That’s exactly what you want, isn’t it?
For this reason we encourage you to read the following ten helpful tips for self-training and learning new vocabulary units effectively:
- Make a practice schedule. It will be more effective, if you practice every day. In case you are short of time, try to practice every other day. Define what time of the day is good for you, what methods are best for you (stated below). Vary the learning techniques.
- Read a challenging book, choosing anything you like: science, fiction, adventure, fantasy, biography. Read at least 20 pages a day. If you have a chance to read more than that, by all means, do it.
- Select top-grade newspapers and magazines according to your interests and read daily. You probably have your favorite magazines, so it won’t be hard to find something great ones to read.
- Write down unfamiliar words. While studying, you are sure to come across a lot of them. Write them down in a small notebook, grouping all the noted vocabulary units according to spheres of usage, frequency, etc. Keep it handy to make notes any time you need. Remember to review these word notes from time to time.
- Read speeches of famous personalities (e.g. political leaders)to learn from great public speakers. You will boost your confidence and be able to speak spontaneously. This will be to your advantage at seminars, oral exams or presentations.
- Join a book or writing club. Working in a group is a good alternative to individual learning. Attempts to be equal to your peers (or be even better) is a challenge – and as you know, challenge leads directly to success.
- Practice writing. Try to write different things – letters, short stories, poems … If you don’t really enjoy writing, think of it as an exercise and do it for learning purposes only. If you love writing, well, it’s going to be a great way to spend your time – both with pleasure and efficiency.
- Do vocabulary exercises. For instance, try these two sites, where fun and strategic exercises give you online practice in a low-key way: Free Rice and Vocabulary.com.
- Install a dictionary app on your cell phone. With a quick swipe, you can check out an unknown word in no time.
- And the last tip, but not the least: just use a dictionary – paper or online, it doesn’t really matter. Make a habit of suing a dictionary. Look up the meaning or pronunciation of the new words. If you have time, look through dictionary pages – you’d be surprised at the useful words to be discovered.
Here is a list of the most helpful online dictionaries, so you can learn how to speak easily:
- Oxford Dictionaries (definition, pronunciation, exercises)
- Cambridge Dictionaries Online (definition, pronunciation, translation)
- Macmillan Dictionary (definition, pronunciation)
- The Longman Vocabulary Website (topics ‘Word Parts’, ‘Dictionary Exercises’, ‘Academic Vocabulary’, etc.)
- Visual Thesaurus (maps of related words, so you can understand the word family connections between them)
- Wiktionary (definition, etymology, equivalents in other languages)
- Webopedia (definitions of terms, related terms)
- Dictionaty.net (database of word and phrase definitions from eight different sources)
Hopefully, this list has given you an excellent place to start to build your vocabulary a bit at a time. If you think about it, there are opportunities all around you to develop this important skill, so spend time every day reading and listening to take in new words and then develop a system to incorporate these new words in your writing and speech. Before long, you’ll find your vocabulary has grown to a new level and your writing has gained the clarity you need with an ease you didn’t think possible.