How to Learn Words and Phrases?

Mastering English vocabulary is one of the most challenging aspects of learning the language, especially at higher levels like B2 and C1. This is when you’ve already built a solid base of common words and now need to tackle idioms, phrasal verbs, abstract nouns, formal expressions, and professional terminology. The main challenge is moving words from passive recognition (understanding them when seen or heard) to active use (being able to use them confidently in speech and writing).

Understanding the Process of Developing Lexical Skills

There are numerous techniques for memorizing vocabulary, but they are not very effective without understanding the process of developing lexical skills. Developing lexical skills begins with recognizing a word in speech and writing. That is, when we see or hear a word and recognize it, matching its auditory form with its written form, and vice versa. You might know the translation or have a mental image tied to it, but does that mean you truly know the word? Not necessarily. Sometimes we get what a word means but struggle to explain it or use it ourselves. This only means that this word has entered our so-called passive vocabulary – words we recognize but do not use ourselves. 

Transitioning Words into Active Vocabulary

To move words into your active vocabulary, you need to do more than know the translation. You need to grasp its various meanings and how it fits into different situations. Looking for examples of word usage? Check out this article. Once you’ve seen and heard enough examples, you’ll naturally start using the word in your own speech.

Here’s a practical approach to memorizing new words and phrases:

  1. Write down the word/expression in a notebook or make a flashcard;
  2. Check the pronunciation of the word in any good dictionary, pronounce it several times;
  3. Look up its meaning in the dictionary and, if necessary, its translation;
  4. Look for collocations with this word (can be found in any good dictionary);
  5. Write down several collocations in your notebook/on the flashcard;
  6. Read and listen to examples of using the word/expression (the more, the better!);
  7. Create your own example (or better, 2-3 examples) with this word/expression, ideally related to your life;
  8. Regularly revisit and review these words to reinforce your memory.

Certainly, instead of a notebook, you can use any vocabulary memorization app (like Memrise, for example). Moreover, some even free dictionaries (like Lingvo, Cambridge Dictionary) allow you to create your own word lists.

In conclusion, learning vocabulary is a lifelong journey. You will always encounter unfamiliar words, new words will appear, old words will acquire new meanings, which is why it’s so important to constantly improve your lexical skills.

Anastasia Tolstikhina

Anastasia Tolstikhina

Anastasia is an experienced course designer, and a passionate English educator dedicated to inspiring and empowering students to enhance their proficiency in the English language.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Share this content.

Anastasia Tolstikhina

Anastasia Tolstikhina

Anastasia is an experienced course designer, and a passionate English educator dedicated to inspiring and empowering students to enhance their proficiency in the English language.

Table of contents

Language »
Scroll to Top
hey
Let’s talk

Fluent English speaking is key to business success. Discover how our specialized courses can help you achieve your goals.

We will get in touch