5 Ways To Boost Your Vocabulary I Oxford Open Learning


    5 Ways To Boost Your Vocabulary

    How It Will Help You

    How often do you think about the words you use in life? Not very often, probably. But subconsciously, your lexis (the words you choose to use) will change on the kind of discourse (the people and topic) you are having. This will affect the semantics (the meaning of the words you use) and these are words you likely haven’t heard of. Feel free to look them up and add them to your internal thesaurus, they might come in handy one day.

    In simple terms, in every conversation you have, you will subconsciously change the words you will use to fit the people you’re talking to and the things you’re talking about. You’ll speak very differently to your friends than you do to a teacher. The same goes for writing. Why is this important? Well, depending on how good your vocabulary is, you could well be limiting yourself to who you talk to and the kinds of conversations you have. There are well-documented links about how people with higher vocabularies tend to do better academically, socially and in their careers.
    Your vocabulary is your word bank and it is well worth investing in.

    Having a wider and more diverse set of words at your disposal will make you more confident, and there are links between the number of words people know and how successful they are academically and in their careers. It’ll boost your writing and communication skills, as well as your critical thinking. Think of it as boosting your intelligence and charisma stats. So if you want to sound more intelligent and articulate your thoughts better, give these strategies below a try. They don’t take much, but even incorporating just a couple into your daily routine will end up paying off for you in the long run.

    Reading (Obviously)

    Reading is the best way to get exposure to a wider range of words and phrases. Sampling a variety of genres, fiction and non-fiction, you’ll pick up plenty of new words to use. If you’re a reluctant reader, just focus on a story you’d enjoy at first, like the book your favourite TV show as based on, or the biography of a celebrity or personality you’re a fan of. Start off with as little as a page a day before you go to sleep. The habit will come. Time isn’t an excuse, you can even read while you’re on the loo.


    You might think this an odd one, because how can you expand your vocab by writing? True, you’re not actively taking on board new words and phrases but the act of writing reinforces your reading. You’ll start to see the words you’ve read and taken on subconsciously appear in your writing as you’re actively engaging with them. You’ll be able to apply these words in different contexts, which will further cement them in your brain as you understand their meaning. But what kind of writing? Any! Keep a journal, take notes on whatever it is you’re studying and re-write them in your own words. Not only will that help your studies but you’ll also be building that vocabulary of yours at the same time!

    Word Games

    Worldle, Wordscapes, Word Collect, Words With Friends. The clue is in the names and these are just four of the hundreds of games available for FREE on the Android and Apple store. The first three are all variations on a simple game of figuring out a series of words from a jumble of letters. You can work on your vocabulary and your critical thinking skills at the same time, figure out the easy ones you know first and then make educated guesses at the ones you don’t. They’re easy to play and great for filling five minutes here or there when you might be scrolling on TikTok instead.
    Words With Friends, however, is a different beast altogether. And it is one to bring out the competitive side in anyone. Download it and challenge your friends to a game that is suspiciously similar to Scrabble without actually infringing on copyright somehow. It’s a nice easy game to play at your leisure and another way to challenge your friends and get them in on the act of bettering their vocabulary too. Who said learning can’t be fun?

    A Word A Day

    Merriam-Webster have one. Dictionary.com has its own and so does Wordsmith. These are all websites you can bookmark which have a new word every single day. Simply open it up, take the couple of seconds to read it and that’s a brand new word to add to your vocabulary. Not only that but there are apps for it too. Just jump onto your phone of choice’s app store and search for WordPal or Vocabulary (Yes, they are free as well!) and get them downloaded. If you wanted to take things a bit further, take a leaf out of the writing strategy and write the new word down a few times, maybe try it out in a few sentences with different contexts to really get it stuck in your mind. Again, a couple of minutes of investment here a day will have massive benefits in a couple of years’ time.

    Simply Talking Will Improve Vocabulary Too

    Talking is a great way to help add to and consolidate your vocabulary. Talking to people gives you the opportunity to properly express yourself with the right words. You’ll get immediate feedback too; if you use the wrong word in that situation, somebody will put you right and you’ll know for next time. Take the chance to talk to different people and in different circles. It will allow you to learn new slang words and colloquialisms (informal words used by particular cultures or groups) and experience different cultures too. Seek out people more intelligent than you as well. If you’re the one with the lesser knowledge in the room, you’re likely to learn a fair few new words and a lot more on top of that as well.


    In short, increasing your vocabulary is only going to help you with your studies, your social life and your career. By adopting these five strategies into your daily routine, you can become more eloquent, express yourself in better and more intelligent ways and open doors to you that may not have been available before. All that with just the power of words.


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