Let’s be honest, improving your vocabulary is no easy task. There are more than 171,000 words in the Oxford dictionary - chances are you don’t know all of them. Luckily, you don’t need to know every word to convey your ideas. Nonetheless, having a broad vocabulary helps you become more concise and effective with what you're saying - not to mention it makes you sound more intelligent, sophisticated and educated!
Why improve your vocabulary?
In 1950, the U.S. Army developed a test to predict real world job performance called the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT). The test comprised of two verbal sections, one on vocabulary size and the other on paragraph comprehension as well as two sections on math. It was determined that by doubling the verbal section and adding the math section (more weight on vocabulary and comprehension) gave the best prediction of real world job performance. According to Christopher Winship and Sanders Korenman in their 1999 study, an increase of one standard deviation point in the AFQT test raises and individuals income by up to $10,000. Evidently, vocabulary has a much larger impact on your life than most people realize.
How can I improve my vocabulary?
Plain and simple, reading other writers explain something, tell stories and impart knowledge will help expand your vocabulary and inspire you to do the same. It doesn’t really matter what you're reading. If you come across words that you don’t know the meaning of, look them up and write three sentences with it in it. This will help you remember, understand and contextualize the word.
Learn a word a day
Learning a new word everyday through an online website, our Instagram or by randomly selecting one from the dictionary will help increase your vocabulary. Whilst you might not remember all of the words you learn, no doubt some of the more interesting ones will stick with you. Again, you should learn how to spell and use the word in a sentence so that you can use it in its proper context.
Talk to others
Everyone has a different vocabulary. Engaging in conversations with others, especially if you perceive them as knowledgeable, can be a great way to pick up new words. If you don’t want to wait for the new words to come out naturally, you can always ask them what their favorite word is or ask whether they know any interesting words. The results may surprise you.
Dictionaries and Thesauruses
If you in an immediate rush to broaden your vocabulary, dictionaries and thesauruses are your best bet. Search or flick through them and jot down any words you’d like to use.
Keep a journal
If you’re already learning these new words through various different methods, why not keep a journal with them in it so you can easily access your new favorite words. Writing them down will also help you to remember them for future use.
Avoid using Adverbs
Using adverbs like 'very', invariably shows that you have poor vocabulary. You can learn how to stop using them here.
A final recommendation: Try and find words that you see yourself using. Whilst "Erinaceous" sounds lovely and complex, chances are, you aren't going to be describing something that pertains to or resembles a hedgehog all that often.