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.)
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. The problem is that it isn't so easy to find information at a level you can understand.
It's also important to read and hear the same words at least 6-10 times, according to experts. Then you will recognize them again when you see them later.
Would it help to have recommendations of appropriate reading material, chosen so you could see some of the same new words several times?
What about adding some practice activities and quizzes to reinforce and check your learning)?
English Hints has a free online newsletter for that very purpose.
Increase your vocabulary a little at a time, by reading, practicing, and reviewing about 6-12 less-common words each issue. (You’ll know some of them already, but that will help you understand others.)
Once or twice a month (usually on the 1st & 3rd Tuesdays) get links to several articles, talks, or podcasts on a subject-- or to a page on the subject.
I'll tell you a little about each, and then discuss key vocabulary to review & practice.
Sometimes there's a crossword or other puzzle to practice it. (See Printable Crossword Puzzles for links to more.)
English Detective has emphasized topics from various fields important to school, tests (like the TOEFL or IELTS) or jobs.
Starting in 2020 its focus will be on science and medical research topics and on skills important for researchers.
In a few minutes each month, you’ll build your English vocabulary. Get more comfortable reading English without spending hours searching for interesting articles. (You don't have to be stuck with reading that is TOO difficult or boring either.*)
*If you can read English at an intermediate level—B1 or B2 up-- you should be able to understand most articles.
(Important or less common words used several times are explained in the English Detective vocabulary section. Sometimes there's a crossword puzzle so you can match those words with easy-to-guess meanings instead.)
I check the vocabulary level of every article or talk I think about using in English Detective. I try to have a mix of short and longer articles. They're all written clearly, without too many idioms or difficult expressions.
The first 23 issues of English Detective taught and practiced the Academic Word List. (It's 570 very useful words. There's more information on the AWL here.) See the Back Issues or Academic Vocabulary Word Lists to study them.
Each of the 570 'words' of the AWL is actually a group of words with the same root. For example, see authority, authoritative, authoritarian, authorize, authorization-- all taught in issue 13.
So in those first 23 newsletter issues there were explanations and/or practice activities for close to 2,000 thousand individual words. Most recent issues highlight fewer words, but they add up, every issue.
Watch your vocabulary grow-- even as you review many of those basic academic words in new reading contexts.
Just think how much easier it will be to understand what you read in English in a few months!
Sign up in the light-blue box below.
As I mentioned, I will not share your name or email address with anyone, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
Note to long-term English Detective subscribers: in mid-March and early April I sent a notice that I will be changing the service sending English Detective. if you signed up more than 7 months ago, you will need to contact me or re-subscribe if you want to keep getting English Detective. Please re-subscribe (or contact me) if you do not receive the April 14 issue and you still want to receive it. Thanks!
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.)
The first year and a half there were issues on the roots of English, bilingualism and the brain, the value of networks for creativity, community service, the environment, cognates, medical breakthroughs, 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.
For even more ways of building vocabulary, see Vocabulary Strategies.