how to improve vocabulary

Boost Your Word Power: The Best Ways to Improve Your Vocabulary

August 14, 2023
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A new word is added to the dictionary every 98 minutes, according to the Global Language Monitor. That's about 15 new words every day!

While it might seem daunting to keep up with those additions, there are some easier ways to build your vocabulary. So keep reading to understand the importance of improving your vocabulary skills and to discover some tips for learning new vocabulary words. 

Why a Strong Vocabulary Matters

Having a strong vocabulary can benefit you in many ways. Here are just a few of the benefits of a strong vocabulary:

  • Improved communication skills: A rich vocabulary allows you to express your thoughts and ideas more clearly and effectively. Because when you have a wide range of words at your disposal, you can choose the most precise and appropriate word for the situation, helping you get your message across more effectively.
  • Better job prospects: A strong vocabulary is highly valued by employers, especially those in fields like journalism, marketing, and communications. Being able to communicate effectively is a key skill in almost any profession, and having a strong vocabulary can set you apart from other candidates.
  • Cognitive benefits: Learning new words can have cognitive benefits as well. Research has shown that people with larger vocabularies tend to have better cognitive function, including memory and problem-solving skills. In addition, learning new words can be a fun and engaging way to keep your brain active and healthy.

We’ll just go ahead and address the elephant in the room now, too: Building a strong vocabulary is not just for students. 

While building a strong vocabulary is important for students, it's also just as valuable for adults. Whether you're trying to improve your communication skills in the workplace, make it easier to remember the words you want to use in casual conversations, or simply want to expand your knowledge of the English language, there are many benefits to learning new words at any age.

The good news? Learning new words doesn't have to be dull or tedious—it doesn't even need to involve print or online dictionaries. There are many fun and engaging ways to make new words part of your vocabulary, from reading books and articles to playing word games and puzzles. With the right approach, building your vocabulary can be an enjoyable and rewarding process—but we’ll get into the specifics in a moment. 

The Science Behind Vocabulary Acquisition

Vocabulary acquisition and retention is so much more than just memorizing a list of words on a page. In fact, it involves several cognitive processes, including attention, perception, and memory. 

When you encounter a new word, you need to pay attention to it and process its meaning. This requires you to use your perceptual abilities to recognize the word and understand its context. You also need to store it in your memory so that you can remember the word later.

Repetition and context also play a crucial role in vocabulary learning. By encountering a new word multiple times, you reinforce your memory of it and increase the likelihood of retaining it in the long term. Additionally, learning words in different contexts allows you to understand their nuances and use them appropriately in various situations.

Actively using new words also helps with retention. When you practice using a new word in conversation or writing, you solidify your understanding of its meaning and increase your confidence in using it.

Effective Strategies to Expand Your Vocabulary

As we said, building your vocabulary can be an enjoyable and rewarding process—but it does require regular practice. Luckily, we have a few effective strategies that you can start to implement as soon as today:

  • Reading widely: Exposing yourself to a variety of genres and authors can help you learn new words and understand how they are used in different contexts.
  • Using flashcards and spaced repetition: These tools can help you review new words regularly and reinforce your memory of them.
  • Learning roots and affixes: Understanding the meanings of common word parts can help you decipher the meanings of unfamiliar words.
  • Taking vocabulary tests: Assessing your progress can help you identify areas for improvement and stay motivated.

Reading Widely: A Gateway to a Richer Vocabulary

We’re not one to play favorites, but it's worth expanding on two of these strategies: reading widely and using flashcards. 

By reading widely, you can expose yourself to new words and see how they are used in context. To get the most out of your reading:

  • Choose a variety of genres and authors to read.
  • Make note of any unfamiliar words and look up their definitions.
  • Try to guess the meaning of a word from the context before looking it up.

Flashcards and Spaced Repetition: Tools for Retention

The second strategy? Flashcards. 

Flashcards and spaced repetition are effective tools for retaining new vocabulary words. Flashcards allow you to review new words regularly and test your memory, while spaced repetition involves reviewing new words at increasing intervals to reinforce your memory.

To use flashcards effectively:

  • Create flashcards for new words, including their definitions and any example sentences.
  • Review your flashcards regularly, starting with more frequent reviews and gradually increasing the interval between reviews.
  • Use online tools or apps that incorporate spaced repetition to make the process more efficient.

Leveraging the Elevate App for Vocabulary Enhancement

There’s another fun and effective way to improve your vocabulary: the Elevate brain training app. Elevate makes improving your vocabulary easy through fun word games. The more you play, the more you'll learn new words, practice using them, and increase your confidence as a communicator. 

Elevate App Features for Vocabulary Learning

The Elevate app includes several games designed to improve your vocabulary skills. Plus, you can track your progress right in the app, and the difficulty level will automatically adjust based on your performance. 

Here's a preview of some of Elevate's vocabulary games: 

  1. Synonyms helps you vary your language to avoid sounding repetitive. 
  2. Word Parts introduces you to prefixes, roots, and suffixes, which can help you independently piece together definitions of unfamiliar words and build your overall vocabulary. 
  3. Eloquence helps you find the right word when speaking in professional settings.
  4. Visualization teaches you how to create memory cues to remember words. 
  5. Recall helps you retrieve new words you’ve learned from memory more rapidly. 
  6. Context teaches you how to use context clues to identify the meaning of new words. 
  7. Connotation teaches you how to understand meaning and tone while reading. 
  8. Association helps you decipher unfamiliar words by associating them with words you know. 
  9. Agility helps you understand more of what you read in advanced books and articles, as shown in this video below:

Real Success Stories: Users' Vocabulary Improvement with Elevate

Many Elevate customers have reported significant improvements in their vocabulary skills after using the Elevate app regularly. Some of them have learned new words every day and incorporated them into their writing and conversations. Others have seen improvements in their writing skills and received positive feedback from their peers and colleagues. But don’t just take our word for it—here are some direct customer reviews:

  • “​​I've noticed that my short-term memory has improved, and my vocabulary has expanded. I stopped using it for a few weeks and I felt like my memory just wasn't as quick. I'm back to using this daily!”
  • “This is a wonderful app for people who want to improve or expand their vocabulary. If you do a lot of public speaking, I highly recommend using this app.”
  • “I’ve been playing this game for two years, and my vocabulary has drastically improved. I'm being complimented by people on how clear and well-spoken I am. Being a digital marketer, it's also important to me that my writing skills are on point, and this app has definitely helped with that, too.”

By incorporating the Elevate app into your vocabulary learning routine, you, too, can experience these benefits and become a more confident communicator.

Start Improving Your Vocabulary Today

As you can see, building a strong vocabulary can help you improve your communication skills, widen your career prospects, enhance cognitive function, and so much more. 

So before you go, kickstart your vocabulary-building momentum by learning a new vocabulary word: Heuristic.

The word heuristic means learning by experience. It comes from the Greek word heuriskein, meaning "to discover." 

Building your vocabulary is necessarily heuristic since it takes trial and error to use new words correctly.

And if you’re looking for a fun and effective way to learn (and retain!) new words like this, consider downloading the award-winning Elevate brain training app on iOS or Android. With a variety of engaging games and challenges designed to boost your cognitive abilities, Elevate is the perfect tool for anyone looking to take their writing and communication skills to the next level.

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