Lots of students do not record new vocabulary. Whilst reading or listening, they simply check the meaning of a word and move on. Those students who do record new words, tend to simply jot down the meanings of words in the margins of their texts or notebooks. This is not an effective way for a few reasons:

  • After a while, students lose track of the new words they have learnt.
  • They cannot remember how the words are used.
  • Whenever they see those words again, they have to look them up again because they cannot remember where they have recorded them.

An effective way of recording new vocabulary is by using the following table:

Words are categorised into General English, Academic English and Technical English in this table.

Task: Choose the correct option.

Task: Which category does each of the following words belong to?

  • diet 
  • gastroenteritis
  • nutrition

In addition to categorising words, you should also add the following information to the table:

  • Context in which you have seen the word
  • Part of speech
  • Definition
  • Pronunciation
  • Collocations
  • Synonyms
  • Example sentence
  • Your own sentence (optional)

Task: Look at the following examples:

Task: Read through the list of tips for recording new vocabulary and try some next time you hear or read a new word.

  • Set a target of 5-9 words a day.
  • Do not waste your time making long lists of words since they do not help you understand how words are used.
  • Some words fall into more than one category.
  • You can add the meaning of each word in your mother tongue also. Pay attention to similarities and differences in the way words are used in your language and in English.
  • For more flexibility, use Word or Excel to create the tier-based vocabulary table/log.
  • Share your log on an online storage platform e.g. OneDrive so that you can access it wherever you are.
  • Go back and revise your table every now and then.
  • Keep editing your table. Add more examples/contexts/collocations.

Task: Look back at the words you learnt today. Choose 5-9 of them and start creating your table!