Learn vocabulary fast and effectively

Learn fastOne of the biggest challenges in studying is how to learn new words in English. While the traditional methods of using translation or memorising lists can be helpful for some people, they’re not the most efficient ways to learn and retain words and phrases. 

So, how can you improve your vocabulary? Here are 10 tips on ways to learn vocabulary fast and effectively.

Decide on your reason for learning 

When it comes to vocabulary, what you choose to learn depends on your language objectives. If you’re preparing for an exam, you’ll need specific vocabulary to talk about specific topics. But, if you’re travelling abroad or planning to study in an English-speaking country, everyday phrases and local expressions are important. 

Think about what you’re studying for as the basis and motivation for all your learning. 

How to learn vocabulary fast 

  1. Study words and phrases that are related to your hobbies, interests, and goals. 

This will make learning not only effective but also fun and the language easier to remember, as you can associate them with things you know and enjoy. 

  1. Sort words into categories.

If you like to write language down, write it in an organised way such as into categories, for example, food, travel, work, etc. This makes the language easier to review and remember later when you want to use it.

  1. Learn chunks of language. 

Instead of learning individual words, learn phrases, sentences, or expressions, also known as chunks of language. This helps you understand the context in which the words are used and can help you remember the structure of how to use them. 

  1. Learn vocabulary that is useful in real-world situations.

Think about the reasons why you’re learning English, but also think about all the benefits it can bring you in the real world, too! For example, if you travel abroad, you might want to learn phrases like, ‘Excuse me, where is the bus station?’, ‘Can I have a glass of water, please?’ or, ‘Could I get the bill, please?’

How to review vocabulary for better recall 

  1. Regular, spaced repetition. 

Use spaced repetition, where you review words at increasing intervals over time, to help you learn vocabulary fast. This means not sitting for hours and hours at a time to try and remember everything you’ve learnt! 

  1. Create scenarios connected to your life. 

Sometimes, it can be helpful to visualise words in situations relevant to you. This can make them stick in your memory better because you can imagine the situation every time you use the word – like a word association. 

  1. Understand how the language is used in context. 

Watch videos or read texts where the vocabulary is used. This will give you a better understanding of its meaning and usage. For example, if you’re trying to remember vocabulary related to weather, try reading online weather forecasts in English. If you’re trying to remember language related to sports, have a look at an English-language sports blog or newspaper online. 

  1. Connect it to a language you know. 

Find similarities and differences between the new words you want to remember and the words in a language you already know. This can help you learn vocabulary fast, particularly if there are similarities in spelling or pronunciation, e.g. coffee in English and Arabic, or sociable in English and Spanish. 

  1. Practise saying or writing it more often.

The more you use a word, the easier it will be to remember it. Make it a habit to speak or write new words frequently in different contexts, such as Whatsapp messages to a friend, an email to a colleague or having a conversation with a family member. 

  1. Peer review

Quiz a friend on new vocabulary or engage in simple conversations to put those new words to use. Don’t have an English-speaking partner? Don’t worry! Why not practise speaking in English with someone who speaks the same language as you?

Learning vocabulary doesn’t have to be a boring or overwhelming process. By strategically choosing what to learn based on your goals, organising your lists for easy review and employing effective recall techniques, you can develop a wide range of vocabulary in no time. So, start incorporating these tips into your study routine, and you’ll hopefully see noticeable improvements in your language skills and range of vocabulary. 

You can learn more useful tips for remembering vocabulary here. 


What other tips would you add for learning and remembering vocabulary? Add your comments below! 


Match the tips to their meanings. 

  1. Peer review 
  2. Regular, spaced repetition
  3. Connect it to a language you know
  4. Sort words into categories 
  5. Learn chunks of language 
  6. Language useful in real-world situations 
  7. Create scenarios connected to your life 


    1. Don’t sit and study for hours all at once!
    2. For example food, travel, sports, animals etc. 
    3. Associate words with situations you are in 
    4. Quiz a friend on new language 
    5. Not just individual words, but fixed phrases and expressions 
    6. Language you can use in your life outside of the classroom
    7. Find similarities in English and your own language


  1. D
  2. A
  3. G
  4. B
  5. E
  6. F
  7. C


Author: Oxford University Press ELT

Every year we help millions of people around the world to learn English. As a department of the University of Oxford, we further the University’s objective of excellence in education by publishing proven and tested language learning books, eBooks, learning materials, and educational technologies.

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