how to build your vocabulary

5 steps to build and improve vocabulary

March 11, 2024
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Did you know that about 15 new words are added to the dictionary every day

While it might seem daunting to keep up with those additions, you don’t need to hold a dictionary close by to do so. 

In fact, there are easier and more enjoyable methods to incorporate learning vocabulary into your daily life that can significantly enhance your language skills. And whether you're a student, professional, or just someone keen on personal development, enriching your vocabulary in these ways can open new doors in communication, comprehension, expression, and more.

So keep reading to learn our five easy strategies to build your vocabulary starting today—no dictionary required.

Why it's important to improve vocabulary

When you improve your vocabulary, you open up a world of opportunities for clearer expression, deeper understanding, and more effective communication. 

A strong vocabulary not only helps you convey your thoughts and ideas, but it also enriches your understanding of information, whether through reading, listening, or engaging in conversations. And in turn, all of these activities can boost cognitive flexibility, allowing you to think more creatively and solve problems more efficiently. 

5 ways to start building your vocabulary

Whether you want to stand out in a job interview, ace a standardized test, or simply build your internal word bank, cultivating a broad vocabulary is a key step in unlocking your full potential. 

And with these five tips, you can steadily learn new words with ease—each one a stepping stone to becoming more articulate and informed.

1. Dive into varied reading materials

One of the most effective and enjoyable ways to improve your vocabulary is to read a wide range of materials. Whether it's novels, newspapers, blogs, or magazines, reading diverse materials exposes you to new words and phrases in context, making it easier to understand meaning and usage. So challenge yourself to read outside your comfort zone—switch from fiction to non-fiction, explore different genres, and dive into articles on unfamiliar topics. This variety not only broadens your vocabulary but also your understanding of the world.

2. Use mnemonics

Mnemonics are memory aids that help you recall information, and they can be particularly useful when trying to remember new words. 

Creating a vivid association or catchy phrase that links to the meaning of a new word can make it easier to recall. For example, associating the word "aloof" (which means removed or distant either physically or emotionally) with someone sitting on a roof (a visual and rhyming phrase) can help you remember its meaning more effectively.

3. Watch movies and TV shows and listen to podcasts

Consider this your permission slip to watch as many TV shows and movies as you want. Just kidding—sort of! Visual and auditory media are actually excellent resources for learning new vocabulary words, especially in terms of understanding how those words fit into everyday conversation and different contexts. 

Movies and TV shows, particularly those in genres or from cultures unfamiliar to you, can introduce slang, idiomatic expressions, and technical jargon. Similarly, podcasts covering a variety of topics offer insights into specific fields, along with their specialized vocabularies. 

Pro tip: Pay attention to the subtitles or transcripts where available, and make a note of unfamiliar words to look up and study later.

4. Practice using new words in conversations

One of the most effective ways to cement new words into your memory is by actively using them in your daily conversations. This not only helps reinforce their meanings but also boosts your confidence in expressing yourself—and that’s what we like to call a win-win.

Here’s an added challenge: Introduce yourself to at least one new word into your dialogue each day. The real-world application ensures that the new vocabulary sticks with you longer than if you were simply to memorize it without context.

And if you need any suggestions on how to find up to three new words each day, our next tip is for you. 

5. Set up Elevate’s new Words of the Day feature

Ready to make expanding your vocabulary a part of your daily routine? Look no further than the Elevate app’s newest feature: Words of the Day. It’s a new widget and push notification feature that’ll help you discover up to three new words daily.

Engaging with Words of the Day—whether through push notifications or the widget—is a simple habit that’ll introduce you to a wide array of new but practical words and their pronunciations, etymologies, and example sentences. For an added challenge, try to incorporate the words into your conversations, emails, or journal entries each day to help them stick. This small daily challenge can gradually build a more robust vocabulary in a manageable, bite-sized approach.

Words of the Day is a whole new way to learn new words (and how to use them) in the Elevate brain training app, in addition to the 40+ communication, math, and memory games it also provides. Plus, with your ever-expanding vocabulary, you might even be able to level up in some games faster. (Just saying.) 

Improve vocabulary with the Elevate app today

By integrating these easy strategies into your daily life, you can start enriching your vocabulary in no time. And doing so can be both rewarding and fun, opening up new avenues for expression and understanding.

Plus, with the Elevate app’s Words of the Day feature and library of vocabulary games, consider Elevate your go-to resource for helping you learn new words, practice using them, and increase your ability to communicate effectively in a way that feels more like play than work. 

So, what are you waiting for? Download the Elevate app on iOS or Android today and get access to everything, like Words of the Day, the Daily Crossword, and 40+ brain training games. And in no time, you’ll start to impress your friends and colleagues by dropping words like sagacious and proffer correctly and effortlessly. 

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