Jason Cornwall
Improving Your Vocabulary

Ive been using an srs based flashcard app to learn new words and it's been working pretty well. The issue that I'm having is that the process tends to be very difficult. If I work hard, I can learn a lot of words very quickly. But Im usually not able to put in that kind of work. So, how do you learn new words? And what do you think is the best way for a person to improve their vocabulary so that they can reach conversational fluency? Thanks for all of you answers :)

Jul 17, 2014 12:05 AM
Comments · 5

My favorite way to learn new vocab is read books and listen to music in the target language. For example, right now I'm reading Harry Potter in Spanish. Every word I don't recognize I underline, and when I finish a chapter I go back and put all of those words and their meanings into a srs program flashcard like you do now.  And when I find a song I really like, I print its lyrics and do the same thing. 

Best of luck!

July 17, 2014

Conversational fluecncy is not completely correspondent with your vocabulary capacity. I have learned English for months and in the first place I really consumed plenty of time in my vocabulary modification and practice. But the truth is to learn words is one thing and to speak and write smoothly is another given you have a significant number of vocabulary in your mind. Vocabulary is ineed the basic requirement for you to speak well and express clearly, however, I would rather spend more time in reading and speaking to compensate my insufficiency of vocabulary.


In my view, language is nothing more than a course of memorization

July 18, 2014

For learning new vocabulary, reading articles and materials that I find interesting has worked best for me. Since it seems that you have a limited time to study, I would suggest that you focus on learning the words that come up often in conversations. I've been doing that since I joined italki, and I have learned a great deal in a short amount of time. I don't use my time studying words that I am unlikely to encounter in everyday conversations. I'm sure as I progress that I'll eventually pick up the less common words.

Recently, I've also starting watching a spanish program while reading the spanish subtitles. This helps with listening comprehension, reading speed, and also is a great opportunity to pick up slang and the multiple uses of different verbs. In my opinion, the best way to become converstational fluent is to speak the language as much as possible. Try one of the italki tutors or ask a few people if they are interested in doing a language exchange. Also, throughout the day, try to say what you are thinking in Spanish. It could be as simple as saying "The billboard contains pictures of people walking their dogs" or "I think that it is going to rain today". Every little bit of practice helps.


Good luck!

July 18, 2014

yes, conversational fluency is a trained skill.  it comes with training and practice.


there are "oral drills", which are not dental instruments. teachers learn how to do oral drills with their students as part of their teachers' training course.

July 18, 2014

Every thing that has been said makes a lot of sense. Reading Harry Potter is a technique that I have heard of a lot, but I've never been able to accomplish it. I tried it once but I was frustrated very easily. Absorbing intersting material is something that I have been doing and its actually worked very well. I believe I should do it more often. Thank you for that Marcus. Allen, your comment makes a lot of sense as well. Being able to speak well takes a lot of speaking, something that I have not been doing enough. But that is why I am here. In a way, it seems like conversational fluency is much more of a developed skill than I had previously thought.

July 18, 2014