The BEST way to learn new vocabulary in English! Do this EVERY DAY!

Lesson Overview

Lesson Summary 

This is the best way learn English words and expand your vocabulary – and in this lesson, you’ll practise with me! This is going to be fun! We will explore word families, collocations and related expressions – and honestly, if you practice this simple task every day, you will be able to remember words more easily and build on the vocabulary you already know! VOCABULARY MAPS!
A simple, but incredibly effective technique.
This is something you can do every day if you’re keen, or even a few times a week.

Watch this lesson to learn how to:
Create a vocabulary map
What to include in your map
How to use them when putting news words into sentences.

Collocations dictionaries I recommend:


JOIN the MmmEnglish CHALLENGE!
Instructions are at the end of the video!
✔️ Create your own vocabulary map
✔️ Take a picture and share it with me on Instagram – @mmmEnglish_Emma

Video Transcript
Section 1
Well hey there I’m Emma from mmmEnglish and I’m so excited that you’re here today because I’m gonna share a simple task that you can use to increase your English vocabulary every day so if that’s what you’re here for, you’re here to expand your vocabulary, to learn new words, then I really encourage you to take the ten to fifteen minutes every day to practise this process that I’m about to teach you in today’s lesson.

It’s an incredibly effective method to help you learn, to remember the new words that you learn and to build on the words that you already know.

Let’s dive straight in and get started!

Learning and remembering new words can be tricky because your brain is constantly processing new information and it’s trying to work out what’s essential and what’s not. What do I need to keep and what can I get rid of?

Think of your brain as a storeroom, if the information is really important it’s going to be on the shelf that is easy to reach.

If it’s less important or maybe it’s not needed as often, it probably goes up on the top shelf at the back, a little to the right. It’s there but it’s pretty hard to reach.

So let’s take that analogy to your English conversations. So when you’re speaking and you get stuck, you can’t remember the word, it’s because it’s not right there on the easy to access shelf.

To remember all of these new words that you’re learning and to draw on them when you need them, well there’s a few little tricks that you can use when you’re practising and you’re learning these new words.

The first is learning them in association with words that you already know.

The second is by introducing different senses to the way that you’re learning so not just looking at a word and seeing it but hearing it, touching something, maybe drawing it.

All of these different things help us to remember and make associations with the new words that we’re learning.

Now in my opinion, the best tool for doing all of this is a vocabulary map. You might have heard of a mind map before, maybe even you’ve used them at school but vocabulary maps are very similar.

If you haven’t already used them to study and to learn new words then you should definitely keep watching this lesson and try out this technique for yourself. I’m going to show you exactly how to start this process and to build on your practice in this lesson.

You need to start with a root word. Now a root word is a word or a word part that is the base of any of your new words. So we create new words by adding prefixes and suffixes to the root word. Can you think of any root words yourself that we could start with?

How about act?

So we can create more words by adding to the word act.

  • Actor
  • Action
  • Inaction
  • Activity
  • Activist

We can kind of keep going like this, right?

The really cool thing is that if you look for and you recognise the root word then it’s going to help you to start working out the meanings of new words that you haven’t seen before when you start associating them with the ones that you do know.

Now our root word is the best place to start with our word map or our vocabulary map.

We just want to put it right in the middle and then we start building from there and then we start adding suffixes and prefixes and creating new words, exploring new words and these are all part of the word family.

Let’s explore with the verb write, okay?

So it’s our root word then we can start adding to it with writer and written or writing, our different verb forms. You just want to start simply, start with the words that you already know and then you can start doing a little research to add new ones or add to them and help your word map to grow.

This one’s cool. We started doing a little bit of research and we found writer’s block. Now if you don’t know what writer’s block is, that’s great! Look it up!

But you can also add definitions and example sentences right here on the word map so that you can see it, remember it, practise it, associate it to the other words that you’ve got on the page.

That said I am trying to teach you a technique that you can use every day to improve your vocabulary.

So let’s just say you’ve only got ten minutes to do this so that you can make it happen, you can build that habit and do it every day. You don’t need to exhaust an entire list of words associated with write, you know it’s okay if you just get a couple down and you start this process, you don’t need to research until you find every last one.

So once you’ve built out your word family, you want to start thinking about some common collocations. Collocations are words that are often used together in English like it’s really common to hear fast food. It’s not common to hear quick food.

We throw a party in English, we don’t make a party.

These are examples of collocations and learning the words that are often used with your root word and the words that you’re exploring in the word family is going to help you to sound much more natural when you’re using them yourself, much more like a native English speaker.

So let’s see how we can use the verb write. We use write with a noun. We write something like a story, a blog post, an article, a report.

But we also use write with an adverb.

  • We write beautifully
  • We write poorly
  • We write enthusiastically

We also often see write with prepositions.

  • We write about something
  • We write for someone
  • We write for an organisation

So again at this step, we want to start by writing down what we already know and then go exploring, finding collocations and other words that are often used with it and adding to our word map.

Now I’ve included a couple of really useful collocations dictionaries down in the description below so as you’re exploring words that often get used with your word, it’s a really, really great tool to use to start expanding on what you already know.

Now because we’re focusing on write as a verb then we might also think of some phrasal verbs that use write.

  • We write off
  • We write down
  • We write up something

And if you’re feeling up to it you might even add an idiom or two that use write as well just to explore different types of phrases and expressions with this word.

  • It’s nothing to write home about

This is a great one! We use it to say that something is not very impressive, it’s a bit mediocre.

Okay next step. Which words have a similar meaning to write? We’re going to take a look at some synonyms now. Can you think of any?

  • Record
  • Copy
  • Pen
  • Print
  • Draft
  • Scribble
  • We take notes
  • We compose
  • and really simply, we communicate.

So learning and playing with all these different ways that you can express yourself in English is gonna make the words that you choose and the way that you sound so much more interesting and colourful and I bet you didn’t realise just how many different ways you can express the same idea in English, right?

Right? Write? Am I right?

So naturally, the next idea to explore is antonyms, words that have the opposite meaning.

Now really I recommend this step only for my higher-level students. If you’re a new student or you’re just getting back to your English after a long break then I recommend that you just take your time, focus on the words that are really closely connected to each other.

So if you’re up for the challenge, let’s add even more detail to our vocabulary map. We can go further. So if write means to create something, to put it on paper, what words would mean the opposite of this?

  • Erase
  • Delete
  • Ignore

By focusing on the antonyms, we’re taking the attention away from the literal meaning of the word so erase directly relates to writing because it means to remove written work and delete is to remove digital written work, right?

And if we write when we’re paying attention to information then the opposite of that would be to ignore, to not write, to not record, right?

And the last step. If you’re anything like me drawing visual cues can help you to remember new words and to associate them with others that you’re learning or even just to remember the context in which they’re used.

And you don’t have to be an artist, nobody is expecting brilliant work. You just need to draw something that will remind you about what that word means.

So for write-off, I’ve drawn a car because write-off usually means that something is so badly damaged that it can’t be repaired, like a car when it’s been in a bad accident and this is how it’s often used.

I’ve used a musical note for the word compose because compose is a verb that is often used with music. The artist writes music or they compose it.

And for delete, well it might help you to remember the word if you draw the icon or the button from your computer keyboard.

These visual elements can help you to remember the words or to associate them with the others that you’re learning as well.

Okay so now I have a little challenge for you if you’re up to it. I’m gonna set a root word right here and I want you to take the process that you just learned today, create your own vocabulary map and try this out for yourself.

The root word that I’m setting for you is to laugh.

Now I want to see your word maps okay? So if you complete this challenge and you do your own vocabulary map, take a picture, share it with me on Instagram. I’ve created my own version of a word map as well so after you’ve created yours, you can check out mine and you can compare.

And that’s it! One really simple and enjoyable activity that you can use every day for around ten or fifteen minutes to help you continue to grow your vocabulary, to explore new words, to associate them with the ones that you already know.

It really is going to open up a whole new world of words for you. If you enjoyed today’s lesson, make sure you give the video a like or you let me know down in the comments, all of that helps.

And if you want to keep practising with me right now, let’s check out this lesson together. I’ll see you in there!

Links mentioned in the video

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