7 ways to help yourself with vocabulary

Because English is a mongrel language that has a history of robbing, stealing, taking, borrowing and pilfering words from other languages, it has a huge range of vocabulary. According to one source, English has just over 171,000 words. That\’s twenty thousand more than Russian and almost twice as many as Spanish. Of course, nobody expects anyone to know it all, but there are many ways to learning and enriching your vocabulary. Here are just a few from City Language School in Dublin that you might find useful.

Keep a notebook

It is old school but a great way of building up your vocabulary is to keep a personal notebook. Make sure you add something everyday and if you can, add the date, the day and the place where you learnt the word. This will help you to recall the word and identify with the context. Classifying the words – verb, noun, adjective – will also help.

Don\’t translate

Where possible, do not translate the word you have written down. Instead try to write down a definition in English that you can understand. If you want to learn a new language, you will need to try and start thinking and explaining to yourself in English. Sometimes there are no direct translations for words either so that is worth thinking about.

Vocab on the phone

A great way of learning new vocabulary is right there on your phone. Language learning apps, such as DuolingoMemrise or QuizUp often focus on vocabulary and because they analyse your behavioural patterns they can rally help your learning process and give you great results. So give Instagram a break (except for our profile obviously) and get on to learning new words.

Board Games

Board games are a nice way to build your vocab

It might be a little slower but it is a n enjoyable way to learn new words. This might work better for people from Intermediate level up and to get the most out of this method, it is worth playing with a native speaker.

Get your teacher involved

If you are working in a class, you will most likely be working from the same course book. You should ask your teacher to build up a bank of vocabulary that can be tested using games on a Friday. This could be battleship or card games that incorporate the new language you have learnt. Easy to do but you have to ask your teacher and your class to come up with ideas.


It\’s more than likely that much of your own second level language came form books you read. The same applies in English so it stands to reason that a great way of adding to your lexicon is to read. There is a way of doing this however and really the best skill to develop to read and explore. That is, try not to use the dictionary where possible and use the context to help you understand a word you are focussing on.

Listen to music

Lyrics are a great way to build your vocabulary. If you can find the lyrics to your favourite English songs, read along as you listen. Not all words make sense in songs – sitting in an English garden waiting for the sun, if the sun don\’t come, you\’ll get your tan from standing in the English rain – but you will hear the words clearly and because the words you hear are connected to music, you will remember them.

Your Language School in Dublin City Centre

City Language School is right in the heart of Dublin City Centre. Dublin is the proud and vibrant capital of Ireland and with its cosmopolitan and modern feel, it has repeatedly been voted Europe’s friendliest city by Trip Advisor. Dublin boasts strong links with literature, music, dance and storytelling. As you walk through the streets of Temple Bar, you can absorb the musical tradition which spills onto the streets from the many bars and restaurants; truly a city of enormous beauty! Dublin is surrounded by breath-taking natural scenery that will leave you with lifelong memories. It is perfectly located on the eastern coastline of Ireland and is a convenient gateway to the rest of Europe.

We are conveniently located in the heart of Dublin on Dame Street, giving you easy access to the whole city of Dublin as well as bus and tram lines for you to get around.