One of the most vital aspects of your language learning process is the way in which you carry on picking up new words. Of course, it is vital to learn about the grammar and improve your accent as well. However, without a steady flow of new words you run the risk of stagnating instead of progressing. So how will you achieve this?
1. Read the Newspaper
Newspapers are great for discovering new words, as journalists have a way of expressing things which you might not have come across before. Even if you know all of the most commonly spoken words in everyday conversations you will probably come across some interesting new words here. If you are in the country whose language you are learning it will be easy to buy a newspaper. If you are at home then you could look online or check for foreign language newspapers in a big newsagent’s store. Just remember to try and learn one word really well each day and use it as soon as you can, rather than try to memorise all of the new ones you come across.
2. Use Your Dictionary Wisely
The dictionary is the most obvious place to look for new words but the key lies in using it wisely. It can be overwhelming to be confronted by page after page of new, seemingly meaningless words. The smart thing to do is to just open it once and choose one word to learn and practice. Tomorrow you can repeat the process on a different page.
3. Look in Your Fridge
It took me a few weeks of living abroad to discover that my fridge could teach me a lot of words. One day I was lifting out a tub of butter when I realised that the list of ingredients was rather, well, fascinating. Food and drinks often come with interesting slogans or lists of ingredients which can teach you a few words. Clearly you aren’t all that interested in learning how to describe the myriad of current artificial flavourings and colours but you are sure to find the odd worthwhile word. Even if you are in your home country when you learn, you could look in the supermarket for imported goods.
4. Speak to Different People
No matter what language you are learning you will find that different people speak it slightly differently. We all have our own favourite words we like to use or are most comfortable with. By broadening the circle of friends you speak to you can increase your vocabulary fairly easily.
5. Watch a Film You Wouldn’t Normally Watch
One night I couldn’t think what to do so I wandered into the local cinema. It was some sort of Jackie Chan piffle that was on and I almost walked out even before the impact of the first boot in the face had faded away. However, I then realised that I was picking up new words. I guess the same applies for music and the TV as well; doing something different and exploring a different genre is sure to let you discover a few new words along the way. Maybe you could vary between the cinema, the TV, music and books throughout the week to keep it fresh.
What was the last new word you learnt?