Developing vocabulary

23/09/2020 Sue

Do you get frustrated when you can’t remember or use new words? Do you find that you keep using the same words over and over again? Here are some tips for developing vocabulary:

  • Read, read, read! The more times you ‘see’ a word in context the more easily you will remember it.
  • Use the new word. The memory needs lots of practice so you need to use a new word about ten times before you remember it.
  • Don’t make lists of translations as you are more likely to remember the word in your first language instead of in English.
  • Write the new word in a sentence that is true for you, the language becomes personalised and therefore has a better chance of being stored in your long-term memory.
  • Dictionary reference should be via an English learner dictionary instead of a bi-lingual dictionary. This helps you to think in English, to memorise more effectively and gives more information about how the word is used. The Macmillan dictionary is one that I often recommend to my students -

Now, let’s practice! Read the description below about the place where I live. How many of the highlighted words do you already know but you don’t use? Take a moment to think about how you can personalize these words in talking about your hometown or a favourite holiday destination.


Essaouira, is a coastal town in Morocco. Since its foundation, it has been a major international trading seaport, linking Morocco and its Saharan hinterland with Europe and the rest of the world. Today Essaouira is a well-preserved UNESCO heritage site.

The Medina is surrounded by ancient walls and ramparts. I enjoy strolling through the labyrinthine alleyways and cobbled streets. The bustling souks (markets) are a feast for the senses, from the vibrant colours and smells of the spices, fruits and vegetables to the sounds of the local Gnawa music and paintings in the local art galleries. In addition to food it’s also possible to buy traditional clothes, pottery, carpets and jewellery in the souks.

One of the attractions for me in coming to live here is that the city has managed to maintain its authenticity together with a laid-back atmosphere. I also appreciate the multicultural community as diverse ethnic groups have been welcomed into this close-knit community over the centuries. Amazighs, Arabs, Africans and Europeans all co-exist peacefully. Essaouira is also notable for being open to a number of religions, namely, Muslim, Christian and Jewish. Imagine my surprise the first time I saw the church here?


Thanks to the spectacular beaches and azure-blue sea, lots of tourists come for windsurfing and kiteboarding. I usually start my working day with a brisk walk along the wide, sandy beach with my dogs and love to see the masses of bright blue fishing boats that can be seen along the harbour.