Gaining confidence with unique terminology used in different disciplines can help you be more successful in your courses and in college generally. In addition to the suggestions described earlier, such as looking up unfamiliar words in dictionaries, the following are additional vocabulary-building techniques for you to try:
Read Everything and Read Often
Reading frequently both in and out of the classroom will help strengthen your vocabulary. Whenever you read a book, magazine, newspaper, blog, or any other resource, keep a running list of words you don’t know. Look up the words as you encounter them and try to incorporate them into your own speaking and writing.
Make Connections to Words You Already Know
You may be familiar with the “looks like . . . sounds like” saying that applies to words. It means that you can sometimes look at a new word and guess the definition based on similar words whose meaning you know. For example, if you are reading a biology book on the human body and come across the word malignant, you might guess that this word means something negative or broken if you already know the word malfunction, which also contains the prefix mal.
Make Index Cards
If you are studying certain words for a test, or you know that certain phrases will be used frequently in a course or field, try making flashcards for review. For each key term, write the word on one side of an index card and the definition on the other. Drill yourself, and then ask your friends to help quiz you.
Developing a strong vocabulary is similar to most hobbies and activities. Even experts in a field continue to encounter and adopt new words. The following video discusses more strategies for improving vocabulary.
Words are sneaky, charming, and intriguing. The more complex our vocabularies, the more complex our thoughts are, too.