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July 2019

Tips for Learning More Nouns

Build your vocabulary with these unconventional study tips

Language fluency requires the knowledge of many nouns. To hold a decent conversation, we need to be able to refer to things. Many common nouns (like ‘person’ or ‘dog’) are easily learned by beginners, but more obscure nouns that don’t come up in everyday conversation may elude many students. Dictionaries are a good resource for learning new words, but, as we all know, rote memorisation from a dictionary can quite possibly be the most boring study method. Learning new words in the real world with context is a much better strategy.

(Are you an intermediate-advanced student? Check out our article ‘Expanding Vocabulary for Intermediate and Advanced Students’)

Here are some less conventional ways to learn new nouns in your target language.

Keep your trash

There are a surprising amount of words written on packaging, especially upon containers of food and drink. If you can get your hands on products from the country of your target language, the packaging of these products can provide a valuable resource.

For example, soda cans may seem dull, but they offer a lot of new vocabulary you most likely wouldn’t find in a textbook or in normal conversation. From the legal print to the ingredients list, there are plenty of new words to learn.

Train tickets and museum brochures also offer a lot of text you can learn from. These words add depth to activities in which you might regularly partake.

Eat your words

Dining at restaurants that serve the food of the country of your target language is an enjoyable way to learn new words. Menus are full of them, such as vegetable and animal names. Table condiments also provide lots of bottle literature. Having a native speaker with you would be helpful in learning more words pertaining to the restaurant scene in which you find yourself.

If you are in the country of your target language, you could even visit restaurants serving cuisines of other ethnicities for even more words. For example, if you’re learning English in London, you could visit a Chinese restaurant to learn English words pertaining to Chinese cuisine.

Take it to the field

Are you a fan of sports? There are sets of vocabulary dedicated to sports. If you want to enjoy the game, it’s important to learn these words as quickly as possible. And because the words are so often repeated (and often shouted), you may find yourself remembering them with minimal effort.

Many sporting terms also apply outside of the sporting world, such as ‘penalty’ or the various parts of the stadium/field. Having fun while learning makes study all the more easy.

Monkey around

A visit to the local zoo can provide lots of vocabulary regarding the animal kingdom. You’ll encounter various types of animals, as well as in-depth information regarding their lives. It’s a great place to visit to learn some scientific terms as well. Just make sure you visit a zoo that focuses on education and conservation, rather than an animal theme park that only shows animals off for entertainment.

Shop ‘til you drop

A simple trip to the local mall or grocery store unveils a universe of vocabulary. From clothing types to food products, you can learn many new words in a shopping centre. Malls are particularly helpful because they bring together many shops under one roof; you’ll be able to expose yourself to many new words by just taking a stroll.

Where do you encounter the most new vocabulary? Let us know on our Facebook Page, and be sure to “like” TELC English for more articles on language learning tips and tricks!