How Do I Improve My Academic Vocabulary?

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  • Written By: Helen Akers
  • Edited By: Jessica Seminara
  • Last Modified Date: 17 June 2019
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One way to improve academic vocabulary is by reading a wide variety of articles and books. Making note of new words and their root meanings is an important technique that can be used to improve academic vocabulary. Repetition exercises, such as flash cards, are another way to expand personal knowledge and memory of language. Written and verbal communications skills are also improved by consulting dictionaries and making an attempt to understand how different words are used.

An easy way to expand academic vocabulary is to become familiar with words and language. In order to improve writing and speaking skills, reading academic journals, novels, articles, screenplays and other creative works is essential. Reading can be a very effective technique for learning new words, how they should be used in sentence structure and how they can convey meaning. Most writers use reading as a way to improve their craft and academic vocabulary.

Some find that it is helpful to use a form of repetition to learn new words. There are software programs designed to help improve academic vocabulary through the use of user-defined word lists. The computer applications work in a similar fashion to flash cards, allowing users to keep looking at words in order to learn pronunciation and meaning.


Manual flash cards or some sort of written list works just as well. Reading and word list creation can be combined to broaden an individual's vocabulary knowledge. As a reader comes across new or confusing words, he can jot them down in a notebook for later review. Copying exact sentences where the word is used is also helpful for understanding how a word may be interpreted.

Consulting a dictionary for the word's meaning can provide an explanation for what it means, but does not always teach a reader how it may be used in the context of sentences. Dictionaries can be extremely helpful for discovering both potential word meanings and their language roots. Associated words may be learned through a dictionary. Learning synonyms and antonyms through a thesaurus is an efficient way to increase academic vocabulary knowledge.

Creating associations in the mind between words and objects or feelings is an additional method of improving communication skills. Making connections between certain words and objects, feelings or colors helps with recall and remembrance. This technique, which is sometimes referred to as "mind mapping," also begins to lay the foundation for being able to use words in a variety of contexts. Experimenting with different sentence structures, writing styles and use of language in essays, journal writings or short descriptions can prove useful.



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