How to Learn English Vocabulary

Many years ago, I was on holiday with my family at a campsite in Devon when a young guy offered me (what sounded like) a “kruggi”. Don’t be alarmed! It’s what happens when there are two kids but only one bicycle. One kid sits on the saddle of the bike, and the other gets in front and pedals. The kid pedalling the bike is giving the other kid a “kruggi” (if he / she’s from a particular area in the UK). Where I come from, it’s called – a little more unimaginatively – a “backie”.

So imagine my surprise when I found out – after all these years – that it isn’t spelled “kruggi” – but “croggy”. My holiday friend was from the north of England, where an “o” sound is pronounced more like the “u” in “put”; and where the long “y” sound is reduced to a much shorter “i”.

So why am I telling you this story? I came across the word “croggy” in this blog post. The blog post explains some of the 1000 new words added to the OED (Oxford English Dictionary). Some words (like “croggy”) are from regional English dialects, while others are new words.

It’s fascinating reading. The OED tracks English vocabulary, to make sure that the dictionary reflects the way English is used today. Because English vocabulary changes so fast, updates to the dictionary are made every three months.

How to learn English vocabulary

English has a rich – and expanding vocabulary, which makes learning and remembering new words difficult. Even people who write dictionaries can have a hard time keeping up! So here are some tips for you.

1. Improve your memory technique

You can have a basic conversation using just 2000 words, but if you want to extend your conversation skills, you’ll need to learn more. In this blog post, you can find techniques to help you improve your memory.

2. Remember that words change meaning

A few weeks ago, my niece and nephew came out to stay with me. I got a text from a friend saying “have a great time with your fam”. “Fam” for me means “family”, but it’s also used in a much wider sense – explained in this blog post. So when you come across a word you know being used in a different way, it’s a good idea to make a note and check it out.

3. Read, listen – then read and listen some more!

Great sources of vocabulary come from books, newspapers, blog posts, songs, films… (This is especially true if you want to make sure you’re learning the newest words or slang.) If you don’t have the chance to hear English spoken all around you, then go online and immerse yourself in English!