Our vocabulary and ability to speak is something we don’t always appreciate. There is a natural assumption that we know all the words we need to know, and that we know as much as everyone else.

However, if you were to test a bunch of people, covering a breadth of different ages and backgrounds you’d quickly discover a distinct difference in their range of vocabulary.

How to spot if you’ve got a weak vocabulary

The definition of having a ‘weak’ vocabulary is being someone who doesn’t understand or use as many words as most people your age.

Now, if you’re not sure if you fall into this category, we suggest taking a look at the following situations.  Each are an indicator that your vocabulary may not be as strong as you thought:

  1. Have felt confused after reading a book/text because you didn’t understand what was happening or what it was about.
  2. Misinterpreted messages/letters from friends and family.
  3. Regularly misuse common words or have used the wrong word to describe something.
  4. Have got frustrated during a conversation because those listening didn’t understand the point you were trying to make.
  5. Have lacked confidence during a conversation, when writing a letter or when speaking in public because you haven’t felt as smart as those you are talking/writing to.
  6. Have felt unable to get involved in politics or express an opinion on political issues because you’ve been worried that your inability to get your point across effectively would result in you being labelled ‘stupid’.

How to improve your vocabulary

There are many advantages to improving your vocabulary. From bolstering your confidence in interviews, to enhancing your writing skills, to enabling you to speak without fear during conversations or in public; by adopting any of the following tricks, you will see an immediate difference in your reading, writing, speaking and listening techniques.

TIP 1: Play word games – a quick and easy way to absorb new words is to play games such as Scrabble; do a crossword, or download word games onto your phone. All of these will help to expand your range of vocabulary.

TIP 2: Learn a new word every day – set yourself a challenge of learning a new word each day and then incorporate it into your conversations at least 5 times over a 24 hour period. This will help you to recall it easier (in the future) and make sure you use it in context.

We suggest signing up to some Word of the Day Sites or getting a Word of the Day calendar.

TIP 3: Read more – the simple act of reading daily/regularly can help you to pick up new words and use them correctly. Now, the books you read don’t have to be long or complicated. You can start off by reading newspaper articles and magazines, or by setting yourself a challenge of reading a certain amount of your book every day. As you get more confident or find yourself willingly wanting to read and you can expand your reading range to other harder books which spark your interest.

TIP 4: Utilise dictionaries and thesaurus – keep a dictionary on hand so you can check out any words that you’re struggling to understand. Likewise, harness a thesaurus to help you to learn new words that have a similar meaning.

TIP 4: Do an online course – there are tonnes of English online courses which you can easily enrol onto and use to broaden your vocabulary. More importantly, online courses can give you the flexibility to learn on your own terms and at your own pace – no classroom, no pressure and no need to quit your job.

TIP 5: Write more – make a point of taking the new words you learn and using them in your writing. From text messages to emails to penning a letter, writing can help you to recall these words and more firmly embed them into your brain.

It is never too late to improve your vocabulary and witness the difference they can make to your writing, speaking and interview skills. So if you’re looking to broaden your skillset, then why not adopt the tips above into your daily routine?

For more information on our online English courses, visit our website.

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