How to Improve Vocabulary Efficiently

This article provides you with some concrete suggestions on how to improve vocabulary quickly and easily using VocabularyShop.

To be successful in your vocabulary improvement adventure you have to work smart.  You need to have the suitable strategy and use the right tools to ensure you conduct your study in the most productive manner.  Blindly investing lots of your time and effort is not the best way to improve vocabulary for you.

The previous article focuses only on the key differences between VocabularyShop and plain flashcards based vocabulary building software and apps.  It explains why VocabularyShop can help you improve vocabulary faster and easier than those software and apps.  This article will give you specific, and practical suggestions on how to use VocabularyShop to make your vocabulary improvement journey productive, pleasant, and successful.

Improve Vocabulary the Easy Way

easy words are low hanging fruit

When picking fruit from the orchard, you will automatically pick the low-hanging fruit first.  Because you can get more fruits in the same amount of time.  To improve vocabulary quickly and easily, you should choose easy new words to study first.  This is one of the easiest and nature way to improve vocabulary.  Even you are studying for a standardized test and need to learn a specific set of words like SAT vocabulary words, GRE vocabulary words, IELTS vocabulary words, etc.  Choosing easy words to learn first will enable you to learn more words in the same amount of time.  As your vocabulary grows, many difficult words will become easy words, and you will choose those easier ones to learn next.  Learning words in alphabetic order is not a smart approach at all.

There are many reasons for a new word to be easy for you.  It may be the spelling, the pronunciation, the meaning, the situation in which you encountered a word.  Easy is a personal and relative thing.  A easy word for you may be difficult for another person.

Using VocabularyShop to improve vocabulary, you can implement such strategy very easily.  You can use the Select function to add a small amount of new words to your word selection each time, and maintaining 50 – 100 new words in your selection.  These words should be the ones you feel relatively easier for you to learn and to remember.

Improve Vocabulary with Relationship

improve vocabulary using relationship

It is difficult for the human brain to learn and remember isolated and unfamiliar new information.  However, if the new information is related to your existing knowledge, then the new information becomes easier to learn and remember.  Because you are just extending your existing knowledge to include new information.

To increase and improve vocabulary efficiently, you should utilize relationships.  Whenever you study a new word you should do your best to find some relationships between the new word and some old words and your existing knowledge.  Such relationship can be anything, like synonym, antonym, roots, prefixes, postfixes, similar pronunciation, similar spelling, easy confused words etc.  By analyzing, comparing relationships between the new words and old words, the new words become easier to you.  Below are some examples of such relationships.

manage – administer – oversee – supervise – direct – govern – control – command – guide – handle

manage – manager – management – managerial

quit – quite – quiet

Using VocabularyShop you can find useful relationships from both the embedded dictionary and the online dictionary easily.  You should attach such relationship information to the new words to create a network of related words.  Consequently, you are no longer learning new words in isolation, but are expanding vocabulary naturally through the extension of your existing vocabulary and knowledge.

When selecting the next group of new words for your study, you should try to select words already have some relationship with the old words, or just select groups of related words.  This way you can take advantage of the relationships among different words to improve vocabulary easily and naturally.

Employ Visual Function of Your Brain

improve vocabulary with visual function

We all know the famous proverb “a picture is worth a thousand words”.  An image can not only tell a story better than lots of words, but also help you remember the information much better.  Comparing the dictionary definition of the word “tiger” and an image of a tiger, you will see the differences immediately.

There are almost unlimited amount of images on the Internet.  VocabularyShop enables you to choose any one of them to represent any word conveniently.  With just a few mouth clicks, you can have any image you like instantaneously.  If you find an image better represent a word than the one you have chosen before, you can replace the old one easily.

With images attached to words, it is possible for you to create a deck of multi-dimensional virtual flashcards mentally.  One dimension of the card is the image, and the other dimensions are the word, its definition, pronunciation, sample sentences, related words, etc.  When you are setting in a bus or waiting in line for something, you can play these cards mentally.  You can utilize your idle time without using any physical devices.

Your brain likes images, and there are unlimited image resources out there for you to use.  Why not to improve vocabulary the way your brain likes?

Turn on Vocal and Aural Function of Your Brain

pronounce words laud and clear

Pronunciation is part of the definition of any word.  To improve vocabulary means you can not only recognize more words in your reading, but also listen and pronounce more words correctly in your communication with others.  Since there is no simple, clear pronunciation rule exists in English, you have to learn to pronounce each word individually.

VocabularyShop does its best to pronounce each word for you.  It also offers IPAs of many words to allow you to enhance the accuracy of your pronunciation.  Many online dictionaries you can connect to VocabularyShop also offer pronunciations of the target words.  Some of them even have British and American accent, as well as male and female voices.

When studying, you should listen the pronunciation of each word carefully and check the IPA to make sure you know the pronunciation precisely.  You can click the word to listen to the pronunciation of words repeatedly.  And you should pronounce the word loudly and clearly a few times for every word you are studying.

When pronouncing words, you activate not only your mouth, tongue, and ears, but also the vocal and aural functions of your brain.  This will reinforce your memory of the words in additional way.  Besides, there are still some relationships exist between the pronunciation and spelling of many words.  Correctly pronouncing a word can help you spell that word correctly in most cases.

Customize Information for Your Brain

customize information for your brain

It is much easier to remember information you created for yourself than to remember information comes from others.   Therefore, to improve vocabulary effectively, you should do your best to convert or customize new words information into your own information when possible.

VocabularyShop creates a flashcard for every word in your word selection, and it gives you the option to customize every flashcard to meet your personal needs.  When you study a new word, you should not just mechanically memorize the given primary definition.  Instead, you should study all definitions, sample sentences and other related information from both the embedded dictionary and the online dictionary.  After you have a good grasp of the meaning of the word, you may decide whether the given primary definition is the best one for this word.  If not, you should replace it with one you feel better describe the meaning of the word or better serve your needs.

You should add any useful information to your notes to help you comprehend and remember the word better.  Such information can be additional sample sentences, synonyms, antonyms, derived words, words that have similar spelling or pronunciation with this word, words easy confused with this word.  It may also include where you encounter this word and why you become interested in this word etc.  The more personalized the better for your brain to remember this word.

Put Known Words to the Known List

When select words, you should put words you already know into your Known List.  Doing so will allow the Select function to find new words from your input with better precision.

When the Select function extracts new words from a list or an article for you, it actually looks for words not in your existing word selection.  And your word selection includes words from both the Known List and the Study List.   If all words you already know are in the Known List, then the Select function will find them.  As a result, they will not be extracted as new words for you.  Therefore, you will have a real new word list presented to you.

Besides, putting words you already know in the Known List gives you an idea of the size of your existing vocabulary.  To improve vocabulary, knowing where you are may also be helpful.

Harness the Power of the Internet

improve vocabulary using Internet

The Internet is an ocean of unlimited resources for your vocabulary improvement endeavor.  To improve vocabulary effectively, you must take advantage of these unlimited resources.  VocabularyShop can help you tap into the vast amount of resources to accumulate, organize, consolidate various information and turn them into your personal assets.

You should choose an online dictionary, which can best serve your needs and suitable for your situations.  This online dictionary will give you additional information about the word you are studying beyond those from the embedded dictionary.  You can even get more information by browsing internet from there.  And you can also copy useful information from there to your notes.   The User Guide page listed some online dictionary sites for you.  You may also find some site you like elsewhere.

There are numerous vocabulary lists on the Internet.  You can use the Select function to pick up any words from these lists for you to study.   There are also countless excellent novels, poems, essays, news articles,  biographies, journals, text books, and other reading materials on the Internet.  If you want to read any materials, you can use the Select function to extract all new words from the text and choose those you are interested in for your study.   You can copy any useful information from any web site to your notes, and, of course, you can choose any image from the Internet to represent any word for you.

Improve Vocabulary with Daily Routine

improve vocabulary with daily routine

To improve vocabulary takes time and effort.  You need to make your vocabulary improvement activity part of your daily routine.  Otherwise, it may be pushed away by many of your other priorities.  Your vocabulary improvement venture may become a burden to you, and you are likely to give it up eventually.

The self-driving nature of VocabularyShop enables you to easily incorporate your study into your daily routine.  For example, you can come to your school or office 20 minutes earlier every morning and use the Study function to conduct your study for 20 minutes.  All you do is to answer multiple choice questions one after another, and go to the Dictionary Dialog to check the dictionary, make notes, download images occasionally.  You may use one morning per week to do some housekeeping works.  Such works may include adding more new words to your study, using the Browse function to find and fix weak memory of some words, or practicing spelling, or playing games.

Once you turn your vocabulary improvement activities into a daily routine, your vocabulary will grow automatically.  You will find yourself having a big vocabulary in no time.

Keep All Your Hard Working Results Alive

keep your hard working results alive

The biggest waste of your time and effort is forgetting.  When you forget a word, all the time and effort you spent on that word are lost.  It is easy for an adult to make $10,000 in a few months.  But it is very difficult for him/her to add 1,000 words to his/her vocabulary in the same amount of time.  Forgetting equals the reduction of the value of your bank account.  This is by far the biggest waste and major reason people give up their effort to improve vocabulary.  Keeping all your hard working results alive is a critical aspect in your vocabulary improvement effort.

To avoid forgetting any word, you should use VocabularyShop as a central repository for your vocabulary improvement effort.  You should put all words related to your vocabulary improvement effort in your user account.  This way all your hard working results are stored in one place, and can be retrieved with just a few mouth clicks.

If you are studying for a test like SAT, GRE, or TOFEL, you can use the Browse function to quickly browse through all words you have studied so far before the test.  This way, you can fix most of your memory problem and maximize your vocabulary to get higher score.

If you used VocabularyShop to prepare for SAT, then you can continue to use the same user account for GRE, GMAT, and LSAT years later.  All the obscure words you seldom encounter after the SAT test can come back quickly.

How to improve vocabulary equals how to accumulate word information in your memory.  A central repository is an essential tool for your accumulating effort.

Create Separate Account for Special Purpose

Sometimes you want to give a special group of words special treatment.  For example you want to make sure you remember the group of words which has the highest probability of appearing in your next vocabulary test.  Another example may be that you want to make sure you can correctly spell a group of confusing words you frequently used in your writing.

You can create a separate user account and put that group of words in that account and focus your study on words from that account.  After you finish that group, you should merge those words back to your main user account to make sure you can find and review those word any time you want in the future.

Improve Vocabulary with Smart Practice

improve vocabulary by practice

To improve vocabulary efficiently, you need to use your vocabulary as much as possible in your everyday life.

The first thing you need to do is to read.  When reading, you see words being used in sentences to communicate ideas.  The meanings and possible subtle hints of the words are presented to you in context.  By reading, you create organic associations between words and some sentences, expressions, emotions, situations, and stories. It reinforces your memory and comprehension of the words.

Besides reading, you can listen to radios, watch TV shows, watch movies, and watch videos from Internet.  When you accept information from a multi-media environment, your brain may understand and remember information better.  Therefore, you should do your best to take advantage of these multi-media based information to enhance your study efficiency.

Regardless what contents you are reading, listening, or watching, they must be interesting to you and are in the proper difficult level for your current vocabulary.  It should entertain you and give you a pleasant experience when use these contents.

Below are examples of some contents you may be interested.

With VocabularyShop you can choose new words you are interested in from your study contents. Once a word is added to your word selection, it will become part of your vocabulary sooner or later, and all information you attached to that word will be ready for you to review at any time.


Whether you want to prepare for standardized tests, like SAT, GRE, TOEFL or build a solid foundation for you life and career, VocabularyShop can help you improve vocabulary and reach your goal quickly and easily.

You can find numerous tips and suggestions on how to improve vocabulary from the Internet and many other places.  However, these tips and suggestions are about the same regardless where you find them. They are very generic, like to read as much as possible, check the dictionary often, keep a journal, use images, use flashcards, form a daily routine, etc.   However, how to implement those suggestions is left for you to figure out.  With VocabularyShop most of these tips and suggestions can be actually implemented and enhanced easily.

You can find more information about VocabularyShop here.  Check out the Tutorial and the User Guide to find out how to use VocabularyShop.  Download a trial version of the program and find out how it can help you reach your vocabulary improvement goal today.