Once you’ve learned the basics of English, you may be unsure how to make further progress. How can you increase your vocabulary and comprehension without spending hours reading or memorizing words?
There are several effective ways to increase your English vocabulary. (See Vocabulary Strategies.)
One of the best and fastest is to study English word formation (using roots, prefixes, & suffixes). Then learn a few key prefixes and roots.
Taking a few hours to learn how to use these word parts can help you recognize hundreds of new words using a few roots or prefixes you already know.
There’s a lot of information on EnglishHints about roots & affixes (prefixes & suffixes). Sometimes it might seem like TOO much.
It can also be hard to find what you need. It might be even harder to find information you don’t already know which is still easy enough to understand.
So, I designed a short, simple set of emails to get you started—at your own level. This way the lessons won’t waste your time but will still give you the help you need. (There’s a lot of variation even within these levels, so I’ll need to cover some basics you may know. At least it will be closer to your actual needs.)
To find your level, take a quiz to learn your approximate vocabulary size here. (There are other vocabulary size quizzes online that will also work. This is one of the quickest that still gives you a good estimate of how many words you know in English. The explanations it links to are fascinating!)
Complete one of the two forms below with your first name & email.
If your level is
I recommend the Intermediate form. (Most lessons are the same for both, but some will have options depending on your level. Of course, you can always decide to try any part of the lesson!)
If your vocabulary level is above 7,000 words, I'd suggest the Advanced lessons.
*If your level is below about 1,300 words, any of these lessons might be difficult for you. It’s OK to sign up, but you might want to do more reading in English first. See Easy Reading for ESL Beginners for some suggestions.
I’ll send one email a week for 5 weeks. After that, I may share relevant information once or twice a month as long as you’re interested. Of course, you can unsubscribe at any time if you don’t want to hear from me any longer.
Lessons will be pdfs with examples and exercises. They may take you less than 15 minutes to a little over 1/2 hour each (since everyone works at different speeds).
The first three emails for each level will demonstrate English word formation. They explain a little about how prefixes and suffixes affect word meanings and word use. Each lesson will use one to three or four common roots as examples.
In lessons 4-5 you’ll learn several more important roots. There’s practice predicting the meaning of unknown words from words you know with the same root. It might surprise you how easy it is to understand words once you learn the meanings of their roots.
There’s more information and a detailed table of contents for a pdf similar to the intermediate level of these lessons on Worksheets for Roots, Prefixes, and Suffixes. )
Please let me know if these lessons have helped you to increase your vocabulary—or not! I’d love the hear if they’re helpful—but I need to know if they haven't helped! Do you have questions on any of the lessons? Is any section unclear—or too long and unnecessary? I’ll answer the questions and use your feedback to improve them for others.
You can ‘reply’ to any email, add a comment on this page, or send a message on the Contact Me form at the bottom of the page.
I hope you’ll see a big boost in your vocabulary soon!