How Do You Develop A Rich Vocabulary

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The first step I had thought helpful for me was to collect as many words as I could. I grew up seeing no one in the family use a dictionary. But I knew there had to be one around somewhere. 

So, I spent nearly half of the day searching one room full of junk clothes, boxes, and banded documents.

Sure enough, I found a coverless pocket-sized ENGLISH-ENGLISH dictionary with easy-to- understand definitions. The little book was covered in dust and its decaying pages had turned into tan.

It was dilapidated and incomplete lacking pages from T to Z. Trust me, it looked ready to retire. But I had no choice. It's all I got. Despite being handicapped, I had treated the small dictionary like a long-lost best friend.

Fueled by an intense level of impatient curiosity, I began memorizing. After doing all household tasks, I would sit in the living room, stare at my old dying dictionary and keep my eye on the words (that makes sense) beginning with A.


I would quietly read the word ONCE (1) and its definition TWICE (2). I would go over reading the same word and its meaning, but this time around, I'd read them both aloud THREE TIMES (3). 

Judging the dictionary by its size, I thought memorizing words and their definitions would be a piece of cake. I was done with the words beginning with A, B, and C and guess what? I was feeling like ready to throw in the towel.

What I truly wished to accomplish was to learn words as fast as I could. I just couldn't wait to know them all—at once! I was overconfident that my brain could handle it. One perfect example was I would try to recall all individual words, but after I blinked they're all gone with the wind.

It wasn't easy as I had thought! The sight of the dictionary made me realize how seemingly infinite were the number of words I had to memorize. This realization was like seeing myself in the middle of the Sahara Desert surrounded by mountains of endless, red sand.

Self-doubt smelled blood and now starting to take form. I began to see how real the struggle I had to endure to get from A to Z. I began to spot and question my limits. I had been fearless, now turned apprehensive.

I was shaken by the fact that it was never easy at all to build a huge vocabulary. Memorizing a bunch of words and their meaning made me crazy. So, I stopped. I stopped doing what I thought was a good trick.

Being alone in my pursuit of conquering English was, of course, scary. But I refused to accept being just average. I refused to believe that there was nothing else I could do to enrich my vocabulary.

Shortly after, I discovered I could just select any word anywhere in the dictionary. I thought shifting my focus on the ones most-widely used would be ideal. Armed with this discovery, I began to look for ways to keep myself interested and engaged in learning useful words.

Flashcards captured my interest. They, in my opinion, have been the most favored study tool. Almost every student has at some point used them. It didn't take long for me to buy a stack of flashcards.

I began writing down random words in bold letters on each of them with the definitions on the back. Over time, the card flipping, shuffling, and guessing turned less and less interesting.

To cut the long story short, this approach didn't work for me either. Yes, my friend. Care to know why? Writing down words and definitions on flashcards took so much of my time, precious time I could have used to learn more words by just flipping a dictionary page.

I was curious. Did the best and brightest minds ever use them? I wondered whether Albert Einstein kept himself a deck of flashcards. Besides, the cards got blown out of my hand pretty much often. 

I had to hold them with a firm grip which was not at all easy to maintain. I could sense my palm and fingers complaining.

This was the reasoning I came up with long time ago. Now, I am not disputing that flashcards can be an effective tool for reviewing and memorizing information. Yes, it works perfectly well for the majority of the human race, but it just wasn't all that effective for me. 

Out of frustration, I burned the whole deck. 

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