Why you should always keep learning vocabulary

Students often get lazy when it comes to learning new vocab, be it in their second language, or their mother tongue.

GRE vocabulary list
Photo by d3b…*

Why should you learn even more words when you still don’t feel confident saying your name? What’s the point in knowing all the names of shades of grey, how to spell ‘vicissitude,’ or the etymology of ‘ketchup’?

In general

Sharpen your communication

Learning new words is not about confusing people with obscure vocabulary—it’s about expressing yourself more clearly, and with more precision.

The more words you know, the higher chance you’ll have the right one at hand when the opportunity arises.

“The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words. If you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must use the words.”
— PHILIP K. DICK

Moreover, having a vast vocabulary will allow you to better understand the world around you—to read between the lines, and question what others have to say.

Get tangible results

Johnson O’Connor, a famous American researcher and educator, has found that a person’s vocabulary level is the best single predictor of occupational success in every area.

Vocabulary test scores by occupation

He further found that that vocabulary usually comes before achievement, not as a consequence of it, and that the ability to acquire vocabulary is largely learned, rather than depending on natural abilities.

Second languages

By now most of you should be fairly convinced that vocabulary learning is indeed very good for you, from every perspective.

But why should you, a foreign language learner, keep learning more and more vocab while you could spend all that time understanding new grammar points and useful idioms?

Getting the most for your money

If you’re taking a class at school or with a tutor, don’t waste the time you’re paying your hard-earned money for learning something you can do as efficiently in your own free time.

Learn that vocab at home, and benefit from your teacher’s knowledge of tricky grammar and cultural context which you may have a hard time learning by yourself.

Get to use the language

One thing we strongly believe here at LinguaLift is that practise is everything. When you’re learning a new language, you should try to start using it as soon as possible—otherwise, you’ll fail!

The more vocabulary you know, them more you’ll understand, no matter how good or bad your grammar & pronunciation is. And the more you’ll understand, the more you’ll be motivated to actually use the language, in turn improving on everything else. Simply knowing that the Italian word for ‘stamp’ is timbro means that if nothing else, you can send a postcard home to your family—regardless of how many grammar books you have failed to read.

Never stop

We have established that vocabulary is key. Make vocabulary acquisition a part of your everyday life. If you hear an unusual word, use Evernote or a similar service to make a note of it, and its definition. If you come across an object, the name of which you’re not sure in your second language—find out as soon as you can!

If nothing else, keep a notebook or scrap of paper on you at all times, so you can at least note down times when you’ve struggled to find the right word for a given situation, or have heard a word that you were not entirely sure of.

Let us know in the comments what methods you employ to enjoy a lucid, replete and multifarious vocabulary!

Learn with us

Find out more →

We've built on years of experience teaching languages to create the best lessons, tools and educational games for self-learners.

+Philip Seyfi is a Russian independent strategy consultant and entrepreneur, author of NihongoUp, and co-founder & CEO of EduLift.

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like:
  • Stevielarks

    Great post! I travel a lot to various countries as a living. I think that the most important thing for people to understand is that enhancing their vocabulary will go a long way. When I am  doing business in India it is amazing to see the vivid vocabulary the children have. They constantly learn new vocabulary and it really shows.

  • Gonçalo Martins

    There’s no question about how important it is to be constantly learning new vocabulary.
    I also believe that the best way to learn anything is by having fun doing it.
    I use different yet complementary resources to learn japanese. As for vocabulary, I use a website that was featured in your ’100 top resources to learn Japanese’ blog entry – iKnow. I never had so much fun while learning new vocabulary. And it works as well as they advertise it. I recomend it to everyone!

  • dai

    ​Try Text to Speech Vocab Builder, help you to build up vocab in any language by reading articles. TTS that can teach you pronunciation. Instant translate the new words in your own language. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=net.zbase.clipboardspeakerfree