Whether it’s a job interview or a reunion with someone important to you, it’s natural to want to impress with your eloquence, sophistication, and vocabulary. But how do you make this happen? Read on to discover a few easy ways to improve and expand your vocabulary.
1. Cut out the slang
That occasional “ain’t” may seems like it gives you a sharp edge, but really, it’s downsizing your intelligence. Next time, when you catch yourself about to toss out some odd slang word, bite your tongue and take it back. How else can you phrase the same word without resorting to slang? Make sure you also cut back on the common “um” and “uh.”
2. Get some outside help
There are lots of websites which provide customized programs based on your intelligence to improve your vocabulary. Find one of these sites, create an account, and use their programs daily. Make a conscious effort to use a vocabulary program at least once a day.
3. Think before you speak
Yes, this proverb applies to more than one situation,but when you want to improve your vocabulary, conscious thinking can help a great deal. If you don’t know how you quite want to phrase something, let your brain think a little longer so you can come up with a coherent, flowing sentence.
Get out to your local library and pick up some books that pique your interest. Fiction, non-fiction, any genre, any author. Just read. Let yourself get immersed in a fictional story, or find yourself learning more and more with a non-fiction book. The more you read, the more words you encounter, which helps you develop a larger vocabulary. And once you do learn a few new words, apply them!
Choosing a strategy that works for you is crucial when you’re trying to develop your vocabulary. Mnemonics strategies, or techniques that involve memorization, can help you retain any word you come across. A great, simple strategy is flashcards. Buy a pack of index cards and write vocabulary words you’d like to learn and use on the front, and write its definition and an example sentence on the back. Another strategy is leaving sticky notes on your mirror — write a new vocabulary word, its definition, and example sentence on a Post-It, and then stick it to the mirror you use every morning. Or attach it to your fridge. Use strategies that are effective for your learning style.
Whether it’s a detailed journal entry or a memoir about a life-changing experience, embark on a writing project. Even if you don’t feel comfortable at first, experiment with words, adjust your sentences, and tweak your phraseology. Choose a type of writing you’d like to take up and try it. Once you’re writing, apply words you learn from the world around you and incorporate them into your writing. This allows you to memorize words more effectively, and it also helps you weave them into sentences that you’ll later use in a conversation.
7. Pay attention
The world is constantly changing, with new terms being tossed out frequently by stylish trend-setters on the sidewalk and new entries being added to the dictionary every minute. Take a moment to pay attention to the conversation around you, and learn how to pick out interesting words you don’t know. Use context clues to figure out what the word means — if your coworker’s talking about “eliminating” a dumb speller from a school spelling bee, put two and two together — a dumb speller wouldn’t be chosen to stay in the spelling bee, so “eliminating” must mean “removing from the bee” in that context.
8. Ask questions
If you don’t understand what a certain type of frame is called, look it up. If the pattern on someone’s sofa cover intrigues you and you want to buy the same one, check out a cloth store to see if you can find a similar pattern. Ask questions and make an effort to get relevant, helpful answers. There are plenty of occurrences around you to strike your curiosity — the only difference is actually acting on your curiosity and taking the time to understand something.
Improving your vocabulary is also an excellent way to exercise your mind. You should never stop expanding your vocabulary. What’s your favorite way to improve your vocabulary? Share your tips with us, please.