John's ESL Vocabulary Bank

The goal of communication is to express our thoughts, ideas and feelings clearly. When you speak English, you want to be understood by those to whom you are speaking. A good vocabulary will help you achieve this goal.

How to Build a Good Vocabulary

The best way to improve your vocabulary is to read. Reading introduces you to words and phrases that are used regularly by native speakers. As you encounter these words and phrases, you should write them in a personal word journal. Then try to use them in an original sentence. If you are not sure how to use a word, look it up in a dictionary or ask your English teacher for help. Once you are sure you are using the word or phrase correctly, practice using it by writing more sentences using the word or phrase in different contexts.

Use a Dictionary

Most English teachers encourage their students to use the context of the sentence to guess the meaning of new and unfamiliar words. This is a great idea for reading while in class, but not too practical for casual reading or studying outside the classroom. When reading outside the classroom, you should always have a good dictionary handy. When you come across a word you don't understand, look it up immediately. Then write the word in your personal word journal.

Make the Word Yours

The only way you will ever remember a word is to use it until it becomes your word. When a word becomes your word, you will be able to use it without thinking about it. Using the new word will become second nature, much like using any word in your native language.