12 Fun Ways to Learn and Remember New English Vocabulary

Gaining mastery in a new language can seem like an impossible task, especially when that language is as complex as English! But our friends at ABA English have 12 great tips to make English learning a little more manageable than you probably thought possible. 🙂

Memorizing new words is a huge part of learning a new language and yet it seems to be so difficult to accomplish.

Today, we want to share some fun tips with you so that learning new vocabulary becomes easier and more enjoyable. We also want your input: tell us in the comments’ section below your favorite ways to memorize words.

1. Read

This is an essential activity because reading is the best way to be exposed to a rich and wide vocabulary.

And remember: you can read whatever you want! You can read literature books if that is what you enjoy, but if you don’t, try reading a comic book or a magazine. You can buy a cook book and read that, or read a children’s book to your kids. There are thousands of articles online, news websites…the options are endless. So find something that you like, and read it.

Reading is an easy, fun and relaxing way to boost your language skills. Plus, you will be learning about other things as well: win, win!

2. Understand context

Great! So you have “learned” many new words; but if you do not know how and when to use them correctly, you have not truly learned.

This is also why reading is so important because it gives each word context, and that will help you understand the meaning and use of the word. For example, in the sentence “This soup is horrible, it tastes so bitter!” you might not understand the word “bitter”, but thanks to the context of the whole sentence, you will know it means “not good”.

Context helps us comprehend when a word is used in formal language or informal language, if it is slang we can use with friends, or if it is a word that is usually used in written English but not in conversation.

3. Related words

If you just learned the word “care”, don’t stop there! Use a dictionary or the internet to find derivatives of that word, and expressions that use it.

Practice for your TOEFL exam with Magoosh.

For example: careful, carefree, careless, take care! See? You started with one word but quickly learned four more, and because their meaning is related, it is easier to understand and remember what each one means.

4. Make sentences

Making sentences helps us put everything we have learned into action: so you have learned a new word and you understand when to use it. But for the brain to remember this word in the future, the best way to memorize is by using it.

Make ten sentences that use different meanings of the word you want to learn or, if it is a verb, with different tenses. For example, if you want to remember the phrasal verb “to tidy up”, write: “Maria, you must tidy your room up”, “I have to tidy up before my friends come”, “Paul will watch TV after he finishes tidying up the kitchen”.

Ever heard Benjamin Franklin’s quote, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn”? Well, by making sentences you are helping your brain to learn because it gets actively involved in the learning process.

5. Record yourself

By hearing your own voice say the words out loud and feeling your mouth move, you are making even more connections in your brain.

If you studied English in the past but have not practiced it for a long time, you might know the words but find it hard to remember them. Yet, once you start speaking, it becomes easier to access those words when you need them.

So, use a camera, your phone or your webcam to record yourself practicing your new vocabulary words and using them in the sentences you made.


6. Make flashcards

Flashcards are a popular way of learning new words. You can also use post-it notes and put them in places where you will see them regularly, or draw the definition of the word if you are a visual learner. If you want flashcards that are already made for you, check out Magoosh’s free TOEFL flashcard app.

Every day, take out your flashcards and read over them. Read the word and try to remember what it means before checking the drawing or definition behind it.

7. Mnemonics

Mnemonics are ways to help us remember things better.

A great online resource for mnemonics is the mnemonicdictionary.com; you can type in the words you want to remember and you will see many different ways to help you memorize.

8. Take notes

A great little trick is to always carry around a notebook and pencil. Then, if you hear a word or sentence you like in a movie or a song, you can write it down. When you get home you can research it and add it to the list of words you have learned.

9. Play games

When you are having fun it’s so much easier to learn. So play games like boggle or scrabble. These games will test your creativity and make you think outside the box.

10. Speaking

In tip #5 we explained how recording yourself helps your brain remember words better. So, what better way to do this than to talk with a friend? If you do not have any native English speaking friends, don’t worry! Just invite another friend who wants to learn English out for a cup of tea and practice.

To get the most out of these conversations, we suggest that each week you choose a different topic. This way you will be using different vocabulary. Make sure to spend an hour or two to make a list of words you would like to use before meeting your friend.

11. Repeat

As Spanish people say, “la repetición es la madre del éxito”, or, in English: “repetition is the key to success”. It’s true. To learn anything you must repeat, repeat, repeat.

Every day, set aside some time to study vocabulary. It doesn’t matter how you do it, but it is important that you practice a little daily. This will create a good habit.

12. Be patient

And finally: be kind and patient with yourself.

Learning English is a big accomplishment, and you should be very proud of yourself each time you learn a new word.

There you have it! 12 fun tips to help you learn more English vocabulary. Now, don’t forget to share your tips with us too.

And if you want even more English vocab practice, sign up for the a Magoosh TOEFL Free Trial.

ABA English bases English language learning on short films about real life in Europe and the United States produced exclusively for the American and British Academy. ABA English’s course also contains 144 video classes on English grammar which are available for free.

Psst...Need more TOEFL practice? Start your FREE TRIAL today.

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50 Responses to 12 Fun Ways to Learn and Remember New English Vocabulary

  1. hussain July 5, 2015 at 9:20 pm #

    Hey Magoosh i found your article sooo sooo much useful.. It helped me alot.. Thank you.. If u havve more tips for learning new vocabulary share it with me..
    Thanking you

    • Lucas Fink
      Lucas Fink July 6, 2015 at 6:55 pm #

      I’m glad it was helpful! I think the tips above will be a great help for you. 🙂 But the most important thing is to practice as much as possible! Remember that learning vocabulary means reading, listening, speaking, and writing with the new words. Otherwise, you never fully learn them.

      Happy studying!

    • Chamantha November 10, 2019 at 2:21 am #

      I have understood many more things which can use to improve English by going through this.I’ve still got a problem in reminding words when speaking.So you had better mention of it as well.

      • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
        Magoosh Test Prep Expert February 7, 2020 at 2:38 pm #

        Hi Chamantha,

        If you have trouble remembering words when speaking, the best thing you can do is to try to expose yourself to new words in other ways. You can do this by reading, writing or listening to content with new words. The more you see/hear new words, the easier it will be to remember them when speaking!

  2. roos September 23, 2015 at 11:38 am #

    wow thanks ?

    • Elhan July 3, 2017 at 9:34 pm #

      Hey there, just wanna know if you’re as much interested in learning as i am, if so, let me know if you want to practice it with me, i don’t have any native-English-language friend to practice with, i’ll be greatful if i get a reply from you



      • Ashley November 4, 2017 at 7:43 am #

        What is native-English-langauge friend? Isn’t it a friend that is native to the English language? 🙂

        Your welcome for replying!

        SOMEBODY AMONG 7.442 billion (possibly more) PEOPLE IN THE WORLD

      • Ashraf March 8, 2018 at 1:31 am #

        Hi. yes, I wanna practice with you.

      • asad September 3, 2018 at 1:11 pm #

        hey friend i need a partner to practice English,if you have enough time so you can send your email adress here

      • Aabid January 23, 2019 at 3:56 am #

        That’s incredulously amazing!! i genuinely loved the quoted and each and every tips off this.I will try to implement all of them in my daily life so that i can assimilate and master the language in a great way……….

        • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
          Magoosh Test Prep Expert January 25, 2019 at 8:47 am #

          So glad this was helpful for you, Aabid!

      • Ibrahim October 31, 2019 at 9:09 am #

        hey Elhan , I have the same problem that you have , so if you wanna practice with me please visit my email on Facebook.

  3. mim November 15, 2015 at 8:00 am #

    good advice

  4. deeksha December 10, 2015 at 7:27 am #

    It was too good an excellent idea to learn easily…superbbbbb,

  5. dev.Rathore December 27, 2015 at 5:48 am #

    I think to read your fovourite articles …because we always less interesting in other subject. …but when we read our favourite things …than its easy to learn and access to rich vocabulary

  6. bhagwan das yadav January 12, 2016 at 11:40 pm #

    i am learning English sir and get so help this tips,,,,

  7. ythiha February 10, 2016 at 8:26 pm #

    thanks for your advice!

  8. Jenny April 4, 2016 at 5:04 am #

    Hi, Magoosh TOEFL Blog
    It is interesting way to learn new words.
    I have to use them
    Thank you so much

  9. nita May 19, 2016 at 10:03 am #

    WOOOOOOOOOOW ! I really liked so much your tips. I’m going to try them all.
    Idk which one to tell you that I liked most…They are all best!
    Thanks a lot~ ^_^

  10. malek May 25, 2016 at 6:13 am #

    Ooo . I tried it it is so helpful I recommand you to try it..

    • mahesh December 3, 2016 at 7:21 am #

      i dont have english speaking friends, how i can get friends in online

      • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
        Magoosh Test Prep Expert December 3, 2016 at 12:02 pm #

        There definitely are ways to find English conversation partners online. I recommend language exchange/conversation partner websites such as The Mixxer, My Language Exchange, and iTalki. Websites like Meetup can also help you find gatherings of English speakers in “the real world”– specifically, in or near your city.

        And of course, there are great communities of English-speaking fellow TOEFL preppers on web-based TOEFL forums.

  11. Kelly June 1, 2016 at 9:36 am #

    Very detailed suggestion! I will try it! Hopefully it will help me to be successful to master by using more new vocabularies. Thanks a lot!

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert June 2, 2016 at 7:52 am #

      You’re welcome, Kelly, and happy studying 🙂

  12. ajay bouri June 9, 2016 at 10:16 pm #

    thats really a good suggestion for new learners.it can help me also to learn english quickly.

  13. Pavan July 19, 2016 at 12:41 pm #

    Hey buddy

    Your article was so helpful to me
    Also it would be great if you can let me know some nice vocabulary games which would really help to learn new words in a faster pace.

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert July 19, 2016 at 7:11 pm #

      Thanks for your kind words. As for games that will help students gain new vocabulary more quickly, I’ve got one our TOEFL bloggers researching that, at your request. If he finds anything, he’ll do a post!

  14. Razan September 28, 2016 at 2:32 pm #

    I tend to occasionally read random articles about how to improve my language skills, as I feel stuck in a certain level! This one is so far the best! Thank you 🙂

  15. Rania October 10, 2016 at 4:15 am #

    This article is the best , i found it very useful , it explains very well the process to achieve fluency in any language not only english , i love it , thank you very much , because i really have issues in organizing my self , i read more than one article at once , i listen to podcasts but not really motivated , i think i’m giving my energy in a wrong way , so this article makes it clear to me on how to start correctly . 🙂

  16. Tyla October 23, 2016 at 4:26 pm #

    Probably the understanding bit of it was the most help. If you don’t understand the meanings then they don’t stick in your brain.

  17. Lorraine December 2, 2017 at 2:27 am #

    i love it. well i do love reading and other stuff but……
    well i don’t like speaking with people that much though.
    i am so shy. i wish i am not shy so that i could learn my english. I find it hard to speak with people just because of my shyness and …

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert December 3, 2017 at 12:50 pm #

      Hi Lorraine,

      I completely understand how difficult it can be to overcome your shyness and speak in another language–but you can’t let this shyness hold you back! The best way to improve in the speaking section is to practice as much as possible, and become comfortable expressing yourself in English. You don’t necessarily have to do this with someone else, however–at least not at first. You can speak to yourself, record it and listen back in order to assess your speaking skills. This will help you to improve and gain confidence in your speaking ability. When you feel more confident, you can start to work with a partner 🙂 If you want to practice speaking in English but don’t have a conversation partner, you will need something else to respond to. So why not get reading or listening practice at the same time?

      This blog post has some great resources to use for listening or reading practice that’s similar to TOEFL material. Summarizing is an incredibly important skill for the TOEFL. If you are speaking out loud, record what you say, then listen to it and try it again with even better pronunciation and with more details the second time. Try to mimic the pronunciation of the speaker, if you are summarizing a presentation. It may sound strange or awkward, or like you are mocking/insulting the native accent, but that’s okay! What feels natural to you will not be correct pronunciation, unless you have years of experience surrounded by native speakers. You have to sound strange and unnatural to change your accent. Try constantly to sound like the native speakers you hear.

      And you can go beyond just summarizing! When reading or listening to a presentation, pause often to give your reaction and opinion on the material. Act like you are having a conversation with the author or speaker, although you are not really talking to them.

      Here are some more tips from our TOEFL blog:
      How to practice TOEFL speaking
      TOEFL speaking practice

  18. tamer January 25, 2018 at 3:42 am #

    thanks for ur tips

    i wish to have English friends and talking practice together

    contact me on my Instagram account ( alshamy787

  19. skb February 13, 2018 at 10:13 am #

    The ways which were recommended are so helpful but it is so hard for me to memorize sentences especially with difficult words and when I memorize the sentence I don’t understand the meaning of the word in the sentence.for example:

    Although exact figures on how many extreme athletes exist are so hard to come by, isolated statistical evidence and virtually all anecdotal evidence point to a rapid increase.

    I don’t understand the whole sentence 😨😨😨😩
    Please help me!

    • David Recine
      David Recine February 14, 2018 at 2:20 pm #

      The first thing I’ll say is that a sentence this complicated probably would not appear on the TOEFL. Still it’s good to challenge yourself with more advanced sentences. So let’s take a closer look:

      Although exact figures on how many extreme athletes exist are so hard to come by, isolated statistical evidence and virtually all anecdotal evidence point to a rapid increase.

      For a longer, more grammatically complex sentence like this one, it’s good to break things down into clauses and phrases.

      So let’s look at the first clause:

      Although exact figures on how many extreme athletes exist are so hard to come by,

      This is a dependent clause, because it begins with the conjunction “although.” The subject of the clause is the noun phrase “exact figures on how many extreme athletes exist.” In this noun phrase, “figures” is the head noun, the true subject of the sentence. These figures are described as “exact,” and are also described as being about the number of extreme athletes currently living. (“on how many extreme athletes exist.” Let’s simplify this subject to:

      the exact number of extreme athletes

      Next, look at the predicate of the first clause. (The predicate is the verb phrase that modifies the subject of a clause. Here, the predicate is “are so hard to come by,” with “are” as the verb, and “so hard to come by” as the description of what the figures/numbers/amounts are. “Hard to come by” means difficult to find, calculate, or understand.

      So we can simplify the first clause to: “The exact number of extreme athletes is a difficult number to calculate.”

      Now, let’s look at the second clause:

      isolated statistical evidence and virtually all anecdotal evidence point to a rapid increase.

      Here, the subject of this second clause is: isolated statistical evidence and virtually all anecdotal evidence. This is a compound subject. One type of evidence AND another type of evidence– two noun phrases– serve as the subject of the clause. “isolated statistical evidence” is just a fancy way of saying “statistics.” “Virtually all anecdotal evidence” is just a way of saying “most observations.” So we can restate the subject of this second clause as “statistics and most observations.”

      Next, let’s look at the predicate, “point to a rapid increase”. In this context, to point to means to indicate something is true or show that something is true. And “a rapid increase” means an increase in the number of extreme athletes. In other words, it is being indicated that there are more and more extreme athletes.

      So let’s rewrite this second clause in a simpler way:

      Statistics and observations show that there are more and more extreme athletes these days.

      To review, this sentence:

      Although exact figures on how many extreme athletes exist are so hard to come by, isolated statistical evidence and virtually all anecdotal evidence point to a rapid increase.

      Can be paraphrased in this simpler, easier-to-understand way:

      The exact number of extreme athletes is a difficult number to calculate.. However, statistics and observations show that there are more and more extreme athletes these days.

      Does this make sense? Let me know if you still have questions about this sentence, or if you have any questions about the way I looked at clauses, subjects, predicates and phrases to make the meaning clearer.

  20. Mukhtar Hussain Shahid May 23, 2018 at 10:54 pm #

    This Was An Assignment That was hired by my teacher…..

    Very Very Thanks…..

  21. Farzaneh February 27, 2019 at 12:53 am #

    That was great and I want to share my expereince about learning words with you.
    When I see a new word, l looking for a root of that and try fo find it on sime films and atricle and know the synonyms and how we can use it.
    I myself use some applications like WordUp which is so useful for me because at the first it tests your words and then you can see the root of word, meaning of that synonyms and also some film which help me alot and I found it enjoyable and recommend you to use it.

    • David Recine
      David Recine February 27, 2019 at 5:12 am #

      Roots are a good thing to look at and try to know. But be careful! Often a word will have a “false root”– it will appear to have one root word, but will actually be unrelated to that root word in terms of meaning. (For example, “excerpt” and “exercise” look very similar but do not have related meanings at all!)

      WordUp can be used to explore root words a little, although it’s really more of of a spelling game. It is a fun app, though!

      • Paymon February 27, 2019 at 11:07 am #

        I think Farzaneh is referring to another WordUp app, which is called “WordUp – Smarter Vocabulary”. It’s awesome 🙂

        • David Recine
          David Recine February 27, 2019 at 8:14 pm #

          Nice! I just took a look at that app, and that really is an incredible tool. Thanks for the clarification, Paymon!

          • Paymon February 28, 2019 at 1:40 am #

            You are welcome 🙂

            It would be amazing actually if you did a blog post to introduce WordUp. It was released last week and people don’t know about it yet.

            Many people’s learning life could be improved.

          • David Recine
            David Recine February 28, 2019 at 1:58 pm #

            We may do that at some point, although we’re focusing a bit less on TOEFL posts in the coming months. Are you involved in the creation of WordUp, Paymon? I feel like I may be sensing some personal pride from you. 😀

    • Shery February 28, 2019 at 10:07 pm #

      I have the same experience. Actually I always have problem with them meaning of some words. After a while I undrestood if I try to know roots of each word, I can learn that word better. Farzaneh, would you please leave here the link of download of that app you mentiond? Thank you.

      • Farzaneh March 1, 2019 at 10:08 pm #

        Hi there
        I am sure you enjoy it. It is so useful for me

  22. Anna 5th grade April 17, 2019 at 4:48 pm #

    I think I will try this for my test tomorrow

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert April 22, 2019 at 7:14 pm #

      Awesome! Best of luck, Anna!

  23. lizzy March 14, 2020 at 11:21 pm #

    Thanks for your suggestion. Read is really a perfect way to increase vocabulary. I like using the chrome extension to mark new words and memorize it while I read in the webpage, a good way to enhance my vocabulary.

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert March 20, 2020 at 12:55 pm #

      You’re welcome, Lizzy! I’m glad it was helpful. 🙂

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