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Did you know that no one knows the exact number of words in the English language?  

It’s not surprising that it’s hard to remember new words when there are so many! 

If you learn too many new words at once, it can be too much for your brain. It's better to take your time, focus on a few words, and give yourself a chance to understand and remember them. 

So where should you start? Keep reading to find out.

Learn more about the word

When you learn a new word, make sure you understand how to use it. Use an online dictionary like to learn more about the word. You can use the questions below to help you. Let’s look at the word available as an example: 

  • How do you say it?    

Click here to listen to the pronunciation of the word available. 

  • What does it mean? Does it have more than one meaning? 

If something is available, it means you buy or use it. If a person is available, it means they are not busy and can do something. 

  • What part of speech is it?  

Is the new word a noun, a verb, an adjective, an adverb or something else? Learning the word form will help you understand how to use it in a sentence.  For example, available is an adjective, so you can use it to describe a person or thing. 

This jacket is available in bigger sizes.  

She is available on Wednesday afternoon.   

  • Does the word have other forms? 

Words are often part of a word family. For example, available is an adjective, but you can change it to a noun: availability. 

We could meet on Thursday or Friday. What’s your availability? 

Available also has a negative form: unavailable. 

I’m unavailable this weekend.  = I’m busy this weekend.  

  • What are some synonyms? 

Do you know any words that have a similar or the same meaning as the new word? 

Synonyms for available: free, in stock, vacant 

She is free on Wednesday afternoon.

Learn the word in a sentence

When you’re learning a new word, don’t learn it on its own. New vocabulary is easier to remember if you learn it in a sentence. 

The doctor is available this morning.  

I’ve got three double rooms available.  

Make it easy to remember

Your brain usually remembers things that mean something to you. If you connect new words to your own experiences, you'll remember them better.  

Use your new word to describe your life or the people you know.  

We wanted to try that new Japanese restaurant, but they didn’t have any tables available 

My brother usually works late on Mondays, so he’s available for international video calls.  

Keep using it

Use your new vocabulary when you write or speak. If you don’t practise a new word, it’s easy to forget it.  

  • Use it in a word game

  • Write some practice sentences using the word.  

  • Use it when you talk with friends. 

  • Use it online. For example, you can use your new vocabulary in online community groups, discussions or in social media posts and comments.

  • Make vocabulary cards to test yourself. 

If you’re thinking of taking the IELTS test in the future, why not start with vocabulary to help prepare for common IELTS topics

You can learn more about the IELTS test here.