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ArticlesStudy Tips: Vocabulary
A Basic Guide to Vocabulary Improvement
With most endeavors, it's easiest to make progress if you have a concrete set of steps to follow. Success in any field generally requires dedication, concentration, and a commitment of time - and vocabulary improvement is no exception. If you're struggling with your study program and aren't sure why you're not making the progress you want, take a minute to look over these basic tips to see if there's anything that might be able to help:

Set feasible goals, avoid frustration

From vocabulary improvement to tai chi, no matter your field of interest is, to succeed you need to have realistic expectations for yourself. This will protect you from the frustration and disappointment of a potential failure. While it's good to set goals, they need to be achievable in a reasonable period of time.
Know what you're capable of learning and be aware of your strengths so that the goals you set are feasible. Start small and set week-by-week goals at first. Once you feel confident you can extend these goals to broader time frames.

Be specific and patient

What do you need to learn? Given the vastness and richness of the English language it's next to impossible to master it in its entirety in one lifetime. Be specific on what vocabulary "pool" you want to dive into. For example, do you want to improve your academic or business English? Or are you looking for overall improvement in your vocabulary?
Knowing exactly what you want to learn will obviously save you from a lot of distress. Still, even if you are ambitious enough to aim for overall comprehensive vocabulary improvement, it's best that you conquer each goal one step at a time. It's not humanly impossible to learn everything instantly, so breaking it out in thematic chunks will certainly help

Be self-aware

Being aware of what you know, what you're after, and what your strong and weak points are will be a firm basis upon which you can build your vocabulary knowledge.
Unless you're conscious of your capacities and limitations (whether temporal, intellectual, or otherwise etc.) you cannot reach the maximum of your potential. The process of vocabulary improvement is ultimately about self-knowledge. You need first to be aware of the tools available and the destination before setting out on the journey.

Use vocabulary improvement programs

Vocabulary software will be of considerable help, especially if you are not the self-driven type. This tool will be your never-failing assistant and supporter in your efforts to master the English language. If your budget permits, investing in a good vocabulary software program can only be beneficial for you.

Listen, discuss, argue

As with everything new you learn, without practice it will eventually get weaker until it becomes an entirely lost skill. Look for opportunities to communicate with people who have good vocabulary skills, and concentrate on using your newly-acquired vocabulary in your conversations. If you've been focused on learning vocabulary specific to your professional field, find co-workers or mentors who will be able to use the same jargon and understand it.
Don't miss any opportunity that arises to talk with such individuals. Their ways of thinking and manner of expression will give you important tips on how to correctly and effectively use your new vocabulary. Pay attention to what they say and how they say it, trying to keeping up with their level of vocabulary usage. By the end of the conversation, you'll be a little richer (linguistically, anyway).