5-words a day is not a big-deal, I can learn more…

“A picture is worth 1000 words”  courtesy: http://www.wikipedia.com 

As they say ‘a picture is worth 1000 words’, How would you describe a picture when your total active vocabulary in only that much?

Developing your Active Vocabulary is indeed time-consuming as there are no shortcuts but the good news is: ‘if done well the words stay with you for many many years’ as also there are many usages of the same word.

It’s true that you acquire new words by being in the English environment or by watching TV. But, ‘as you begin to speak’ you must continuously learn them and do conscious efforts to use new words until you reach a level of comfort with English. Make 2-3 sentences of different types using the new word and finally, speak it out (or write it in your mail). Here are the sure ways to Activate Words – I suggest keep it to 5 new words a day.

What are good ways to Learn Words?

You learn words when you Listen or Read or when you do Both – watching a movie with sub-titles for example. Start doing ‘anything that you can do or like to do’ in English – watch any funny video clip on Youtube, a movie with or without subtitles, a serial on Star-world or Discovery, News on DD or BBC, English song, reading newspaper or a novel, cooking using a recipe, sharing a joke, writing a letter or email… reading your text-book, looking at an advertisement, filling-up a form, even reading this post. Good thing is and in India there are a lot opportunities for you to carry-out your work in English. Pick-out 30 min. in a day as your English time where you can easily get 5 new words…. take the words from me the day you cannot pick your words from your work place.

Your most important task is to build up your Active vocabulary. A limited vocabulary will hold you back, and prevent you from speaking English effectively. The Vocabulary starts multiplying very fast after you reach a certain stage where you can understand different forms of the same word, pick the synonyms and antonyms… and then do different usages of these words. In my view learning ‘5 new words’ a day is what you should target (do more when you miss doing it on any day) and add words regularly… make it a habit!

Did you click on the link just above, on the word synonyms? It’s linked to http://www.vocabulary.com I recommend bookmarking this site, the best online English Vocabulary tool and it has one of the fastest dictionary. You may also sign-in to keep your lists and work with them and run a quiz on the words that you know. Not only does it provide excellent definitions but it also allows you to hear how the word is pronounced. You will also find the latest usages of the words in Political or Business News. Practice saying them out loud to yourself and others. And if you forget the correct pronunciation or are confused ask your trainer for help – even with different usages of the word you can seek his/her help.

What is the best way to retain a word and bring it into usage?

How many times in my class have I told about: flash cards? … I have also put it on the pin-up board. There is no better method. Word lists ‘that I sometimes provide to you’ are also useful but flash cards are the time-tested method for memory retention. After making a flash card, start learning the usages of the word. Keep it with you until you’ve learned it. Try your new words on friends in the class or speak it out with me — they may get impressed.

Google is great! -we all love it. I wish we had the Internet and online dictionaries when I was a student. But sometimes pen & paper is the way: use post-it notes or cut a chart to make yourself Flash-cards. They stay with you for as long as you get complete comfort with the word.

An idea: you may also use differently colored Flash-cards for different types of words, Yellow for Nouns, Orange for Adjectives and maybe Green for Verbs etc.

Remember the end-game: Use ‘new words’ in conversation whenever and wherever you can. I expect my students to learn 5 words everyday!  


6 thoughts on “5-words a day is not a big-deal, I can learn more…

  1. Hi,
    I agree that 5 words in a day is not a big deal, but when we start doing practically.. it is not as easy as it seems. (note: present tense) We are not in practice of learning in this way..in my opinion, first we need to develop our habbit to learn ‘new words’ and with that their applicability (or many usages).
    I would like to share my practical experience on this. First we need to chalk out (you mean list out) the new words to learn for a day..We can’t make one common list of five words for the day for everyone. These words may come in our routine reading of newspapers or watching movies etc.. and can be different for different people in various jobs or professions So each person to pick words and make these words for your day’s word.. is one of your decision and make it in your list. I am facing problem in making my list of words and i am not able to decide whether I have to make this word for my day’s word. Going with this way, I am able to understand new words, but not able to use them practically in our day to day conversation and also they didn’t remain in my active vocabulary. I am not sure whether I am on the lines which this blog wants to convey or I understand the way, but not practically using it as it requires. I request you sir, please correct me if I am wrong in understanding this blog or suggest me if I can make more usage of learning new words daily and practically I can use them.

    (Ashish: some edits done…)


    • Dear Aditya,

      Good points as building Active Vocabulary is tricky subject so lot of Tips & Tricks are involved and through this blog I only gives you ‘what has worked’ for many people and me personally. I give you some word-list of most commonly used words like Un-count nouns, personality adjectives and Verbs and also referance of a site: www. vocabulary.com (explore it and you will find it useful see comments from other learners)

      1) Pick words from the text in the blog and/or your everyday reading it can be just comics or advertisements or newspaper.
      2) Don’t be too choosy on selecting a word- all the words that you have come-across are useful.
      3) Look at what part of speech it is and many places that it can be used…
      4) Make 2-3 sentences in your mind right as you understand the word.
      5) Try to use it ‘in your conversation practice with a group’ or just write the sentences on this blog. we will do correction (if required).

      Step 3 and 4 are very important and being lasy by nature we avoid doing it…. Enjoy the process of building ‘active’ Vocab.

      best regards


  2. Hi Ashish sir,
    Thank you very much for this post.
    Really this is a great and valuable post. Yes, I believe that vocabulary is a very important way for effecting english speaking/writing. Yet I have not applied this method. I am really inspired and will apply the same. I was little scared about how to retain these lot of words but the flash card is the best solution for me.

    I visited the site vocabulary.com the site describe(s) the words very well. Besides there are word games also there to make learning fun and easy. But I faced a problem that the audio (which is used for pronunciation) is not working at all. I am using Linux operating system. Does it work well on windows platform?

    What about http://www.oxforddictionaries.com? Will you recommend for me?
    It will be appreciated if any one replies to my comment about my grammatical mistakes, or sentence and paragraph structure and give a solution.

    Debraj 🙂

    (Ashish: this is 9/10 for writing and such errors won’t be noticed when you speak…. I have done some Minor corrections and improvements 3rd para and the last para/line. I will also reply to the question asked)


    • Thanks Debraj,

      In my view: http://www.vocabulary.com is the best vocabulary building online tool and I reviewd its features last year. I have been recommending it to all my tech. savvy students.(apart from the flash-cards that is time-tested and I have used it personally when I cleared the MBA entrance tests in 1999). I am the editor of India blog website for Oxforddictionaries.com which is good place to look for meanings and has maximum words (more than vocab.) Some advantages of vocabulary.com:

      1. You can take assessments/quiz and play to master some type of words
      2. The person can make his/her own word-lists
      3. It is responsive to you (the user) after you login and use it… the complexity level would increase as you go deeper… little bit of brain mapping is involved to give you this feature
      4. It gives usages of the word from many sources like BBC, New York Times and popular literature
      5. Listen to the pronunciation works very well on my Windows 7 OS never tested on Linux.

      Start using flash cards and use whatever online tool you feels best meets your requirement.

      best regards


      • Thanks for your quick feedback.
        Also thanks for vocabulary.com site’s adventages. I have signed up to play quiz etc. I see that the sound is not working in linux sytem. Anyway I will use other site for pronounciation only.


      • Thanks Debraj, I suggest the following schedule to be Strictly followed in the Morning Batches….

        1. Do cover ‘one new topic with me; everyday so that we progress on the curriculam for ‘Intermediate’ : anyone absent to catch-up on his/her own
        2. Spend around 30 min. on group speaking practice: Do the play Verb-tense game for atleast 5-10 days and bring-in verbs into your regular usage
        3. Spend 30 min. on the blog reading and/or do EnglishEdge Language lab practice

        Do mark your attenendance in the register and submit your mid-module feedback. I am always available for all your questions.



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