Learning Vocabulary is not just a case of knowing the translation of a word in your language. In order to really master your understanding, you should try finding out the following things:
- Connotation – this is about what kind of idea or association comes with the word. Is it a positive or negative idea. Does give a good impression or is it related to something unpleasant. Would you like to be described in this way? Consider “slim” and “thin” – one seems like a good/healthy thing, the other suggests that someone is ill or there’s a problem. Which one is which?
- Formality/Register – is it a word that you would use in an official document, or something you’d say to your friends? You might use “Enjoyable” in a formal situation, but say “Wicked” to your mates.
- Countable or Uncountable? Or both? – This is important to know so that you don’t make mistakes or try to use use a plural form that doesn’t exist. This is particularly a problem when a word is countable in your language (e.g. the Spanish consejo) but not in English, leading to the mistake “advices”.
- Plural form – lots of words have an irregular or unusual singular/plural forms, e.g. medium/media, which you should learn!
- Pronunciation – make sure you know exactly how to say the word! If you can’t get your teacher to model it, then you can try searching on an online dictionary (e.g. https://dictionary.cambridge.org/) for recordings, or even have a go at learning phonemic script!
- A full definition – you may know the word in your language, but being able to define words with give you an extra level of understanding and help your ability to paraphrase.
One of the best ways to remember a word is to create your own personalised example – this can aid your memory, as well as help give context.
Learning how to record all of this information is also a great way to amplify your vocabulary. Try writing down new words like they’re recorded in dictionaries (taken from Cambridge online):