Increasing your vocabulary

How can you increase your vocabulary? Being in the ‘English’ industry, people often ask how they can increase their vocabulary, how they can learn new words.

There are many apps around which users feel will help build their word power, and maybe they do. Apps like Boggle, and its derivatives are great to use the words you know. But I’d like to draw to your attention to two online websites/programmes which I think are even better for building your vocabulary. They are Free Rice and

Free Rice is a site which my colleagues and I sometimes recommend to those who want to learn new words. The reason for the name – Free Rice – is that every word you get correct increases your ‘store’ of rice by 10 grains, which are actually donated to hungry people through the United Nations World Food Programme, or goes towards providing free education to those who in need through sponsors of the website. Free Rice vocabulary testing covers a wide range of fields including: the humanities – famous paintings, literature, world hunger, famous quotations; English – vocabulary & grammar; math/maths – multiplication table, basic math (pre-algebra); chemistry – chemical symbols, chemical symbols (basic); language learning – German, Spanish, French, Italian, Latin; geography – world landmarks, identify countries on the map, world capitals, flags of the world; sciences – human anatomy; and test preparation for SAT®.

Such websites do help to boost a person’s understanding of words. However, there is much more to knowing a word than remembering its synonyms or its meaning or definition. One website that does focus very well on many of the other areas involved in knowing a word is Not only does it highlight which words you don’t know, but it also teaches you essential English words in a stimulating way. Using adaptive technology it adjusts the new words it gives you based on how well you have done to date. It will keep coming back to you with words you haven’t ‘got’ until you do! Even when you think you know how a word is spelled, how it is used in a sentence, what other words it is associated with and of course its meaning, then it will surprise you at some future occasion and see if you still retain it!

Another way of developing your vocabulary is through extensive reading. Research shows that you will only remember a new word if you meet it at least eight times in reasonably quick succession. Read books, magazines, articles, blogs or whatever, that you are interested in and you will surely build your vocabulary.