Student Questions: Learning Vocabulary


“Sometimes, I read the book or sentence, the word I don’t know what’s meaning?? So I will take care that words meaning, but next time I forgot then. How do I learn English word??”


Learning a language takes a lot of time. Be patient with yourself! It is similar to learning many other skills.

Let’s say you want to learn to play basketball. First, you need to learn the rules of the game and what the basic concepts are. You can’t just watch the game once and expect to have the expert knowledge of the referee. You have to pay attention, and over time, you will remember all the ins and outs.

Next, you need to actually get out on a basketball court and practice. If you never actually pick up the ball, you will probably never join the NBA. You have to put the knowledge to use.


Vocabulary and grammar are the same. You may see a word once and look it up in the dictionary. Then the next time you hear the word and remember that you looked it up before, but you still forget what it means. That’s OK. It is part of the process! By the third or fourth time, you will probably remember it when you see it the next time.

You have learned the basic concept of basketball. Now you need to pick up the ball.

Find ways to use the words you are learning. Write an email to a friend, or keep a journal in English. Speak with native English speakers and push yourself to use the words in conversation. Sign up for a class and let a teacher help you practice.

When I lived in Taiwan, I remember looking up the same Chinese words again and again and again. There are still some that I seem to always seem to forget and have looked up in a dictionary well over ten times! It wouldn’t be until I found a reason to use the word, or to hear it in conversation, that it would really stick and I would remember it.

The solution –

  • Be patient with yourself.
  • Try making flashcards to practice with when you are in the bus or train on the way to work or school.
  • Make a point of using the words you are practicing during a conversation or in writing.
  • Sign up for an online class to build your vocabulary and practice speaking with an experienced language teacher.

You won’t remember all the words you learn right away, but if you keep practicing, the faster your vocabulary will grow.

Questions? Comments? Let me know!

Sign up for an online English class here.