Easy and effective ways to learn English as ESL learners

Easy and effective ways to learn English as ESL learners

As an ESL learner, you may find it difficult to learn new vocabulary. Here are 15 easy and effective ways to help you learn new vocabulary.

1. Use technology – online dictionary

If you do not understand a new word, you can use an online dictionary with a pronunciation feature to help you learn better. Try to practice pronunciation, especially word stress of that new word.
Here are the 5 best online dictionary websites:
– Cambridge Dictionary Online- Merriam-Webster Online
– Google Dictionary
– Dictionary.com
– Visuwords (online graphical dictionary)

2.  Choose words that will be useful for you

Remember, you don’t need to learn every English word that you see or hear. If you study for a college entrance exam. you can make a smart choice just to learn academic vocabulary.

If you are going to travel to an English-speaking country, you can choose to learn conversational vocabulary and words for food, hotels, transportation and how to ask directions.

3. Use bilingual dictionary first and look the word up in an English-only dictionary

When you think vocabulary is hard to understand, you can use a bilingual dictionary to look up the word and get a general idea of the meaning first. Then you can use an English-only dictionary to look the word up so that you can know a more specific definition and idiomatic usages.

4. Keep an English vocabulary notebook with you

It is always good to have a notebook that is specifically for learning English. You can write down new words that you see in advertisements; new words that you read in a book or magazine; or new words that you hear on TV. You can go through the notebook every day and decide which words are the most useful to remember.

5. Write examples of each new words

When you learn a new word or phrase, you can write one sentence from a dictionary and write one sentence of your own. When you try to use a new word to make a sentence, you will find it easier to remember the spelling and the usage of that new word. Try to use your new word in your daily conversation too.

6. Try to learn expressions, phrases and idioms

If you want to improve your English-speaking skills, you can focus on learning expression, phrases and idioms. You can apply these to your daily conversation and your ability to understand native speakers will be improved gradually.

7. Pay attention to prefixes when you learn vocabulary

Many words in English share prefixes and the prefixes show the meaning of a word. If you learn prefixes, you can guess the meaning of new words in an easier way. For example, the prefix ‘un’ means not, reverse action, deprive of, release from, as in unable (not able), uncomfortable (not comfortable). What do you think untidy means?

8.  Read English as often as possible

You can choose an English book that is simple in concept but with a lot of useful vocabulary. You can also read a short story on a website or short magazine or newspaper articles in English every day.  Watching English-speaking shows or English movies with subtitles can help you learn new words in a more interesting way.

9.Learn collocations and pay attention to the other words in the sentences

Collocations are words that often are used together, and Prepositions are often used in collocations with verbs.

When you learn new words, pay attention to the other words in the sentence. Collocations are words that often are used together. Prepositions are often used in collocations with verbs. For example, the verb focus is often followed by the preposition on + a noun – He is placing a greater focus on creativity in his painting.

10. Use a thesaurus and learn synonyms

One of the quick ways to increase your vocabulary is to use a thesaurus. Once you have learned a word very well, it is a good idea to look it up in a thesaurus to look for synonyms for your word. You can learn one or two synonyms of each new word.  You can try Longman Language Activator, which you can buy, or use the following online thesaurus;

You can check the meanings of synonyms in a dictionary to see if there are any differences in how the words are used. Does one have a more positive meaning, and one a more negative meaning? For example, skinny and slim are synonyms. However, when you use them to describe a thin person, skinny is negative and slim is positive. skinny is negative.

11. Make simple flashcards

Flashcard is very useful to assist your English learning. You can write a vocabulary word on one side. Draw or cut out a picture of the object or action or write the word in your native language and put it on the other side.  Here are the steps:

1. Look at the picture side or the side with your native language word and think of the word in English.

2. Say the word out loud.

3. Spell the word – spell it out loud or write it on a paper.

4.Turn the flashcard over to see if you are correct.

12 Use online flash card websites to learn with others

You can use a free online flashcard website such as Quizlet . This website allows you downloading flashcards other people have made or create your own.

13. Create related word form grids

You can draw a table in your vocabulary notebook and divide the table into four columns.

Fill in two forms (e.g. noun and adjective) of the words in the first and second column, and practice using those forms. After two weeks, fill in the other two forms (e.g. verb and adverb) and practice them in your daily life.

identifiable identity


identify identifiably


14. Create a synonyms and antonyms grid

Like the method mentioned above, you can draw a table with three columns – word, synonym, and antonyms.  Synonyms are words that have similar a similar meaning and antonyms have the opposite meaning. Try to use them in your writing and daily conversation.

large huge, enormous little, small


15. Organize a study time

You can make a specific time for vocabulary learning or practice each week. For example, you can review vocabulary words for 5 minutes every morning before you get out of bed, or for 10 minutes before you go to bed.

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