Effective Strategies to Learn Vocabulary

Vocabulary is the basis of all languages. An expansive vocabulary gives you the power to express yourself exactly how you want it.

You can confidently communicate your thoughts verbally or nonverbally once you develop strong vocabulary skills. But are there specific strategies to learn vocabulary effectively?

This article shares effective strategies for learning and increasing vocabulary.

Learning vocabulary may be a different experience for different people. We’ll discuss how learning strategies can differ with age, gender, or physical or medical condition. We’ll explain the link between learning ability and a medical condition.

Learning something new keeps you motivated and can also be a source of great accomplishment. Studies have shown that motivation plays an important part in a person’s ability to heal.

Individuals diagnosed with cancer, particularly rare ones like mesothelioma, can still find reasons to feel hopeful. No matter what stage of mesothelioma you’re in, don’t let your sickness steal your joy.

Strategies and Tips to Learn and Increase Vocabulary

          Vocabulary is an integral part of literacy teaching. Unfortunately, a study based on the General Social Survey (GSS) has shown that Americans’ vocabulary skills are declining, despite the rise in educational attainment.

         For this reason, developing a strategy to improve vocabulary is crucial. Here are five vocabulary-building strategies to help you:

  1. Read Strategically

         For adults and older children, much learning of novel words occurs through exposure to written texts. Reading text can advance vocabulary because print materials have more low-frequency words than spoken language.

         Low-frequency words are those that aren’t commonly used.

         Finding the meaning of words through context information is the natural way of learning a language. 

Reading allows you to see how words are used in context. So start developing a reading habit. You may start with easier materials and then gradually move to advanced books as you learn more words.

  1. Maintain a Personalized List of Learned Words  

         Keep a personalized list of learned words to review later. Writing those learned words down can help you remember them better.

         A 2021 study showed that writing on physical paper could increase brain activity when remembering information an hour later.

  1. Use Semantic Mapping

         Semantic mapping is a process that graphically represents concepts. A semantic map lets you conceptually explore your knowledge of a novel word by mapping it with related words similar in meaning to the new word.

         A semantic map has three components:

  • Core concept or question: It refers to the keyword or phrase that’s the main focus of the map.
  • Strands: These are subordinate ideas that explain the main concept.
  • Supporting information: These are the details, generalizations, and inferences related to each strand. They support strands by clarifying them and distinguishing one strand from another. 
  1. Follow a Process

A study headed by Dr. Phillippa Lally of the University College London suggested that it may take anywhere from 18 days to 254 days for individuals to form a new habit.

Suppose you want to make vocabulary improvement a regular part of your everyday life. If that’s the case, you must integrate it into your daily workflow. Make learning vocabulary a habit, so you’ll never forget it when your day becomes too busy.

         Learning vocabulary should be intentional. Aside from the strategies mentioned above, here are some fun and simpler tips to expand your vocabulary:

  1. Engage in Conversations

         Talking with other people can help you discover new words. Each time you encounter a new word, remember to write it down so you can study it later.

  1. Play Some Word Games

Word games like Scrabble, crossword puzzles, anagrams, Boggle, and word jumble are great tools for discovering new meanings and novel words.

A study suggested that using word games may improve students’ vocabulary mastery. Word games may also be effective in teaching English. 

Do Learning Strategies Differ With Age, Gender, or Medical Condition?

          For toddlers, repetitive word usage and catchy tunes in children’s songs are great learning strategies that can help build phonemic awareness. For adults, reading is still one of the best strategies to improve comprehension.

A 2022 study showed that English vocabulary learning strategies for male students are different from female learners.

Based on the results, male students learn English vocabulary by:

  • Watching movies or YouTube videos
  • Listening to music or podcasts
  • Playing games

Meanwhile, female students learn English vocabulary by:

  • Memorizing words
  • Reading books, journals, and articles
  • Practicing alone by the mirror
  • Participating in group discussions

         Instructors teaching in an inclusive classroom with students who have disabilities shouldn’t assume that these learners have the same vocabulary base as their peers without a medical condition. Teachers should develop inclusive teaching strategies to cater to the needs of all their students.

         For instance, dyslexic students have difficulty reading, so they typically read less. In an inclusive classroom where they have to keep up with their peers, it’s crucial to find strategies to expose them to as many words as possible.

Reading aloud, listening to recorded books, and writing a story using vocabulary words may help dyslexic students understand and remember information better.

 Autism is a developmental disability that includes problems with behavior and communication. In 2018, about 1 in 44 children in the U.S. was identified with such a condition.

Instructors can use various strategies to teach children with autism new vocabulary naturally. Teachers can remodel a new word in a sentence by labeling the object and using it in a grammatically correct way. This technique can demonstrate the purpose of that object.

Studies have shown that it can take at least 12 exposures to learn a single word and understand its meaning. For example, instructors can use a new word multiple times in different contexts while describing it to their students.

The Advantage of Learning Vocabulary

          Strong vocabulary skills improve all aspects of communication, including reading, writing, speaking, and listening. So make it a habit to expand your vocabulary each day and start expressing your ideas in a meaningful way. It will also help to expand your vocabulary on medical terminologies if you or some people you know have medical conditions.


  1.  Motivation for Healing in Cancer Patients: A Qualitative Study


  1. Declines in vocabulary among American adults within levels of educational attainment, 1974–2016


  1. The Influence of Reading on Vocabulary Growth: A Case for a Matthew Effect


  1. Study shows stronger brain activity after writing on paper than on tablet or smartphone


  1. Vocabulary- Semantic Mapping


  1. How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world


  1. Improving Students’ Vocabulary through Word Games


  1. Adult Literacy: Better Reading Comprehension, How to Speed-Read, and Some Life-Changing Literature to Improve Your Life


  1. Male and female students’ learning strategies in mastering English vocabulary


  1. How Teachers Can Build a Word-Rich Life for Dyslexics


  1. Data & Statistics on Autism Spectrum Disorder


  1. The Impact of Dose and Dose Frequency on Word Learning by Kindergarten Children With Developmental Language Disorder During Interactive Book Reading