While a learner beginning to learn Spanish may feel comfortable with grammar, as the concepts of Spanish grammar are limited and straightforward, he may find it tedious to learn Spanish vocabulary, due to the vastness and depth of vocabulary.
Learning vocabulary requires you to grasp the precise meaning of the word, its synonyms, its varied meaning in the context which means that learning vocabulary is about deep understanding of each word.
Here below are few tips which will help you learn and improve your Spanish vocabulary effectively.
Have a commitment to regularly learn new words: Vocabulary, making up the biggest part of learning a language, needs more commitment and time towards learning it. Especially if you are a Spanish beginner, it is essential for you to adopt a consistent and dedicated approach towards building vocabulary. The good thing is, after developing a large vocabulary, you will continue to learn new words from practical usage, whether you work at it continuously or not.
Learn words along with their pronunciation and context of usage: Words exist in context. Words are used to get your ideas and thoughts across effectively. The meaning of words vary from context to context. Further, knowing the exact meaning of a word is no way beneficial when you do not know how to use it. Therefore, learning vocabulary is not about blindly memorizing the exact meaning of the word; it’s about learning it along with its context.
While learning words, learn them completely learn both the pronunciation and know the context of usage. Both of these aspects of a word make it easy for you to use them in your everyday communication, either in the form of speech or in writing.
Get to know the most commonly used words first: Though the dictionary has a wide variety of words and every word in the dictionary is useful at one point or another in your life, don’t rush to learn all the words in the dictionary at once.
The right approach towards building Spanish vocabulary is to learn the most commonly used Spanish words first, as they are generic, simple and easy to remember due to their high frequency of usage. They can also be quickly learned as you can put them to use immediately as you learn this helps with retention. Equipped with commonly used words, you will be able to communicate in Spanish at the basic level and then gradually advance to the next levels.
Listen and read through varied Spanish resources: Listening and reading through varied resources, you will encounter more new words and also get exposed to different usages of words. Don’t just limit yourself to Spanish text books or novels; try your hand at reading Spanish magazines, newspapers, comics, etc., and also listening to public lectures, radio broadcasts and news in Spanish. This sharpens your general and subject-specific vocabulary.
Also, reading through varied Spanish resources facilitates explicit and implicit learning. Various instances, conversations and thoughts help you to learn the new words either explicitly (by stopping while reading and getting to know the meaning of the word through standard resources) or implicitly (by deriving the meaning of the word from the context while continuing with the flow of the reading).
Read quality writing: Instead of directly hitting the dictionaries or vocabulary books, first read through quality written works. Quality writing is simplified writing. It is characterized by the right usage of a word. It is common for people to show off their word power by using esoteric, large and complex words irrespective of their need or context, but the quality of writing is not judged by its complex word usage, but by the usage of every word (big or small) in the right context.
Learn vocabulary based on themes: Learning vocabulary based on themes can greatly help you in accumulating a greater number of Spanish words in your memory.
Various themes exist such as travel, home, business, animals, history, biology, astronomy, etc. And every theme has a set of Spanish words which are relevant and connected to each other and to the theme. For instance, take the theme of familia (family). The various Spanish words that can be grouped under this theme are madre (mother), padre (father), hijo (son), hija (daughter), hermano (brother), hermana (sister), etc.,
Learn cognates and false cognates in English and Spanish: Learning cognates and false cognates in Spanish and English is also an easy way to remember words. As both Spanish and English are evolved from Latin, they have many words which are common in structure and meaning called cognates (Eg: original is the same in both Spanish and English). Exemptions are called false cognates (Eg: ‘carpeta’ may look like a typical English word, carpet, but in Spanish it means folder).
Make use of flash cards – play vocabulary games: Flashcards are the most common tools used to learn vocabulary. One can use flash cards in different ways writing the textual meaning of words or by drawing pictures or by using various colors for various themes of words.
Vocabulary games are the most fun, interactive and interesting way to learn vocabulary. They are educational and intriguing and help in learning the meaning as well as the right and different usages of a word. Some good vocabulary games are crosswords, puzzles, word jumble, scrabble, anagrams, antonyms, etc.
Start your blog or join writing groups: Personal relevance is an effective way of remembering a word as this helps relate the learned words to the respective situations in our life. So stop blindly memorizing the words and start speaking your views in friends’ groups or start your blog or join writing blogs.
Building vocabulary is not just about how many words you know – it is about how well you know the words. Don’t learn Spanish words for the sake of learning but so that you can properly express yourself.