Progressing towards fluency in a second, third, or even fourth language requires using advanced vocabulary with ease. That could be terminology from a specific academic subject, or it could be to develop from the poetry and letters of your desired language. In this guide, we’ll show and explain some top tips for breaking through to the next level of vocabulary usage.
The most important thing to remember when attempting to advance your vocabulary is that it’s ok to make mistakes. Your native or more experienced language-speaking peers may give you a ribbing, but mistakes make you human.
The etymology of the word etymology is this; the Greek ‘étumon’ means ‘the truest sense,’ giving us the ‘etym-’ part of the word, and then ‘-ology’ which is to do with the logos and means ‘the study of.’
All to say, when attempting to understand advanced parts of the lexicon, it pays dividends to do some etymological research. If language is a tree, with branches forming through differing conventions, this is the best way to climb the tree and discover branches to hoist yourself along.
Advanced English words come from all over the language tree. There is a significant inheritance from Latin, French, and Germanic languages. It’s as mixed up and bastardized as any language in existence. By tracing lineages, you may connect dots that went previously unconnected in your mind.
Watch films with subtitles
Watching films and television with subtitles is a popular, slightly lazy way of learning a language. The exact combination of subtitle and dub requires some clarification. If you’re watching a foreign language film with subtitles written in your mother tongue, it offers minimal benefits.
That is the lazy method of subtitular watching. Our brains focus on the easier task, so you’ll only absorb the text, and the audio will exist only as background noise.
Mitigate this by watching foreign language film, or television, with the same language subtitles on. By conjoining two senses, you will be able to balance the rushing ephemera of the audio with the more concrete, visual subtitles.
Subtitles will help with vocabulary too, as you can see the full word written out and hear it spoken in a context that is applicable and suitable. Many learners make mistakes when they scrape arcane and archaic words from a dictionary and try to throw them into conversation or writing.
English vocab in use today does span the centuries; attitudes towards correct and incorrect terminology have seemingly relaxed as compared to fifty years ago. There is a sense of adventure and inquisitiveness about language that welcomes experimentation.
There is an adage to never use a complicated word when a simple one will do; however, it is nice to be able to know what all the options are, from complicated to uncomplicated.
A word of warning regarding dubbed media: it is often the case that different studios and different teams produce the dub and subtitles. They may not be singing from the same hymn sheet, so to speak. You must check out whether there is this inconsistency before committing because it can be hard to unlearn some mistakes.
Hopefully, you’re able to learn with a mix of native and other advanced speakers. If you’re struggling to connect with your network during the pandemic, try out some Zoom meetings for language learners.
In these sessions, you could be ‘speed dating’ or getting into long discussions. There are probably some words you’ve encountered that you’re not entirely sure where they fit in. Ask questions. There is no such thing as a stupid one—only stupid answers.
A great place to try this out is on StackExchange, where you can get into the real nitty-gritty of correct and incorrect usage. You’ll learn a lot from the discussions; sure, but if you don’t come away from the place a little confused, you should log back on until your brain starts to itch. The users love getting to the bottom of advanced English words; they’ll happily and maybe pedantically explain where you’re going wrong.
Reading allows us to encounter thousands and thousands of words in a beautifully composed order. While you may not want to speak as though you’re from a novel, the depth of lexis used in written texts is an ideal place to expand your vocabulary.
Novels, poems, autobiographies, recipe books, textbooks; these all feature language in specific ways. The later, more fictional books will provide some cast iron ways to demonstrate mastery of vocabulary.
Books are the best place for discovering words we’re not going to hear in the park, the pub, or the party. It’s where advanced language lives, so if you want to know how to improve your vocabulary, head to the library.
These tips are just several of many for language learners. A host of methods are available via apps or through courses. However, we’d stress the unparalleled importance of reading above all else when it comes to bolstering your vocabulary. Reading gives you some raw materials to take to other places to receive clarification and lessons on proper usage.
Amanda Dudley is a writer, educator, and essay specialist. She earned her Ph.D. in History from Stanford and has remained an academic ever since. Her specialist skills in pedagogy have led her to offer her talents in the essay writing service sector, in addition to developing
educational methods for students with learning difficulties.