Building Vocabulary Month by Month

You know building vocabulary in English is important. But it’s easy to put off because it seems too difficult. Don’t give up! I started this website to help people with a little English learn more-- enough to use! (Maybe not quite a 'zillion' words, but thousands-- see below.)

page name, then picture of a partially built brick wall and the text

The best way to learn vocabulary (and grammar, and gain fluency) is by listening and reading a lot.

There is so much good reading (sometimes with audio) available in English on the Internet-- but it isn't always easy to find information at a level you can understand.

In addition, to learn new words it helps to read and hear the same words a number of times (many experts say at least 6-10 times), so you can recognize them again when you see them later.

Wouldn't it help to have recommendations of appropriate reading material, organized so you would see some of the same new words you're trying to learn a number of times?

What about adding some practice activities and quizzes to reinforce and check your learning)?

Building Vocabulary with English Detective

English Hints has a free online newsletter for that very purpose. Increase your vocabulary a little at a time, by reading, practicing, and reviewing 8-12 or so words each issue. (Actually, you will probably know some of them already, but you may find others you would like to learn.)

English Detective currently comes out twice a month, with related readings and practice activities to help you learn and review new vocabulary each issue.

The first 23 issues of English Detective taught and practiced the 570 words of the Academic Word List. (See the Back Issues or Academic Vocabulary Word Lists to study them. There's more information on the AWL here.)  

Each of the 570 words of the AWL actually represents a group of words with the same root, like authority, authoritative, authoritarian, authorize, authorization-- all taught in issue 13. (Several issues of English Detective, as well as Suffix List and other pages on EnglishHints, explain how to understand and use those different endings (suffixes.)

So in those first 23 newsletter issues there were explanations and practice activities for close to 2,000 thousand words. Keep adding, every issue, and watch your vocabulary sky-rocket-- even as you review many of those basic academic words in new reading contexts.

English Detective has reviewed many AWL words since, but concentrated on other useful words from various fields important to school, tests (like the TOEFL, IELTS, & SAT!) or jobs.

Each issue has two or three interesting short articles, talks, or stories on similar themes for you to read (and often to listen to at the same time). Most issues also include some vocabulary help and short activities (like crosswords, word searches, categorizing, and other games) to help you get the most from the readings and to review the key vocabulary for that issue.

In the following weeks you’ll have a chance to review the words you have already learned, as well as to learn new ones.

Often there will also be practice with a word root or grammar point, an idiom, or some other aspect of English.

 You will get a chance to learn a little about many different subjects, written in different styles. Hope you enjoy it!

Building Vocabulary ebook cover: a tree with multi-colored fall leaves, some already on the ground

Special Offer

You can get a bonus ebook free right now by signing up to receive English Detective.

Building Vocabulary: Roots, Prefixes, and Suffixes gives you lists of common prefixes, suffixes, and 80 of the most common Latin roots of English words. (It includes 150 words from the important Academic Word List, as well as many other useful English words.)

This ebook combines pages from English Hints with extra Latin roots especially useful for the readings planned for English Detective. This way you can print out just what you need, and keep the rest on your own computer for easy reference.

Of course, you won’t learn new words just by reading a list. Use these lists as background information to help with some of the new words you’ll read and practice in English Detective. Also keep checking our blog for new vocabulary activities at EnglishHints.com.

You can download this ebook as soon as you confirm your subscription to English Detective. (Sign up in the form below-- or on the right.) I hope you find these roots and affixes as helpful as I have!

Just think how much easier it will be to understand what you read in English in a few months!

You can sign up in the blue box below.

As I mentioned, I will not share your name or email address with anyone, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Get the Best (older issues) of English Detective

EnglishHints has a lot of reading and listening comprehension and vocabulary practice (see the sitemap-- the Vocabulary Practice and Skills sections.)

However, many people find it easier to learn in "bite-sized" chunks. That's one main purpose for the English Detective newsletter. By now there have been over 75 issues, and several of them are still being referred to, over and over.

Because of that interest, I decided to offer a quick free five-lesson course using the best of those earlier issues.

You can sign up below to get those lessons by email. I will send the best parts of five of the most popular newsletters. (Some of the earliest were way too long!)

For even more ways of building vocabulary, see Vocabulary Strategies.

P.S. A few of the topics for our first issues were detective methods (& how to investigate English words), the scientific method and the discovery of penicillin, and planning for success (while learning from failure.)

Then there were issues on the roots of English, ancient Greece & Rome, a few highlights of English (and European) history, including the Renaissance, bilingualism and the brain, the value of networks for creativity, business, community service, the environment, cognates, and so much more!

You can see back issues here. If you are interested in which issues teach particular words from the Academic Word List, or the reading selections, puzzles,  and practice activities in any particular issue, you can find that information in  Academic Vocabulary Word Lists in English Detective Issues.

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