boost your vocabulary

Tips to Boost Your Vocabulary

The English language is a complex and interesting maze of words and grammar. Sometimes two different words have the same meaning. Other times the same word has two different connotations. When you boost your vocabulary you can better distinguish the differences and similarities. The more words you know, the more options to choose the perfect word for the situation. And you will better understand what you read and hear. Read on for more great reasons to improve your vocabulary and how to start building it today.


Why You Should Improve your Vocabulary

Improving SAT Scores

More than a million students each year take the SATs. In the past, a large vocabulary was key to scoring well on this test. However, Psychology Today’s “Vocabularies, the Evolving SAT, and Teaching Psychology” notes that the standardized test uses fewer obscure words than it used to. Don’t let that fool you into thinking you can skip that study guide though. It just means that the SATs now focus on words that you’re more likely to see in a college setting.


Improve Reading Comprehension

Southern Methodist University’s “Effective Vocabulary Instruction for Kindergarten to 12th Grade Students Experiencing Learning Disabilities” says, “Vocabulary knowledge can improve writing skills and build knowledge of other word meanings through known root words, prefixes, suffixes, and word families.” Lemony Snicket (aka Daniel Handler), author A Series of Unfortunate Events likes to use complex words that children don’t often hear. In his stories, he always explains what those words mean so the child reading knows. This builds a higher degree of reading comprehension. Snicket’s writing allows a child to move from children’s books to adult literature.

Better comprehension bleeds into other subjects like science, history, and math. Because the child has a full grasp on the words they are reading they know what the textbooks are explaining to them. Likewise, the larger vocabulary allows students to write more in-depth papers and essays.


It’s Fun!

You don’t need a reason for wanting to improve your vocabulary. While the English language is complex, mastering it is, honestly, just plain fun.  It allows you to befuddle your friends and coworkers or win at Scrabble. Plus you can get your meaning across without using the same verbiage every day.

If you want to improve your vocabulary, placing Webster’s Dictionary under your pillow at night isn’t going to work. It takes time, practice, and a whole lot of reading! So push up those bifocals and get busy!


Boost Your Vocabulary One Word a Day

Learning a new word every day is easy. Technology makes it even easier! Unlock your phone and download an app. Sign-up for a daily email, or buy a calendar that gives you a new definition every day. Once you’ve learned the new word be sure to use it in a sentence a few times that day so you remember it!


Read… a Lot

The best thing you can do to learn new words is read. Read a lot. Read everything! The more diverse your subjects the more new words you encounter. If you don’t know a word don’t just skip over it. Get a dictionary out and look up the definition. You can even make a game out of it. See if you can guess its meaning from the context, then go look it up and see if you’re right.

Sometimes people are discouraged from reading because they’re slow or they don’t have the time. If that’s the way you feel then don’t distress. That’s what audiobooks are for! Still don’t think you have the time? Turn the book on while you drive to work or school. Doing the dishes or cooking dinner is also another great time to listen.

If cost is a concern, turn to The Dayton Metro Library or your own city or county’s libraries. You can borrow books on CD or download their app and listen to books on your mobile devices.



Repetition plays a huge part in education in general. Very few people hear something once and completely understand it. University of Maryland’s “Benefits of word repetition to infants” explains that even at an early age repetition is the key to learning new words and phrases. Researchers Rochelle Newman, Nan Bernstein Ratner, and Meredith L. Rowe found that “toddlers who had stronger language outcomes differed in two ways from their peers: their parents had repeated words more often, and they were more tuned in to the language as infants, and thus better able to process what was being said.” Everyone has their own personal learning style. Even still repetition is still the most efficient, tried and true way of increasing your vocabulary.


Word Games

Everyone has that one friend or family member you just can’t beat at Scrabble or Words with Friends! It’s infuriating but you still play with them in hopes that this time you’ll get the upper hand. You could change your strategy to playing the words in just the right spots. But why not use the strategy of having a larger vocabulary? Having more words in your arsenal can get you out of a tight spot when the only letters left are a Q and an I.


Get Kids Excited

August is just around the corner which means schools will open their doors once more. Get your kids prepared for the upcoming school year by getting them excited about words! It’s super easy. Before going to bed get them settled in by reading to them. It’s a nice, relaxing moment between you and your child. It not only grows their bond with you, it also grows their bond with reading.

Make time for books during the day took. Rather than listening to music in the car while you drive around doing errands or taking the kids to practice, listen to audiobooks in the car. This way, building vocabularies becomes a family event where relationships have grown and everyone learns.

PHOTO: Pixabay / CC0 Public Domain

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