Teachers report that the most common mistakes that ESL students make are vocabulary mistakes. English learners most often choose an incorrect vocabulary word when they try to express themselves. Why is vocabulary so difficult to learn correctly?
The most important reason is that students often learn vocabulary out of context. Maybe they try to learn vocabulary by reading English to Arabic the dictionary. Or maybe they collect lists of words and memorize them. Some people buy vocabulary books. The problem with all of these methods is that you don’t learn vocabulary in context. You don’t see enough examples of the word in sentences. So you never really learn the correct way to use the word.
Research shows that the best way to learn new vocabulary is to read read read. Seeing vocabulary in a natural context – for example, in a newspaper or magazine article – will help you to use your new vocabulary correctly, and seeing it in context will also help you to remember it better.
So this is what you need to do. Read English books. Read English magazines. Read English newspapers. If you’re in an English-speaking country, read the advertisements on buses and signs on the streets and highways. Read English stories. Read graphs and tables and charts. Read the English operating manuals for your TV and washing machine.
When you see a new word, write it down. Write down the whole sentence because this will remind you of the correct context for the word. Write down two or three or four different sentences where you’ve seen the word. Write down the definition of the word.
Pay attention to the part of speech of the word: is it a verb, a noun, an adjective or an adverb? This is also a common mistake that students make; sometimes they choose the correct vocabulary word, but they use the incorrect part of speech.