Organize your vocabulary in groups (word families)

It’s easier to remember! It’s better to learn words in groups than learning a long list of words that are not connected.
Your coursebook, if you are following a course, is probably organised by themes:

  fashion and clothes

So, if the coursebooks group words by topic, there must be a good pedagogical reason – there is! Words are easier to learn that way!

SPORT: tennis – racket, court, net, to serve, 15-love (0), the umpire, to win a game/match/championship – to beat an opponent – spectators for sport, not audience. Audiences are for the theatre, the cinema, a concert etc.
Rugby – pitch, referee, to score a try, to kick a penalty,

Keep a notebook (paper and pen or digital)

It’s not enough to write down a word or phrase and a translation and close the book!
You have learned a word when:

1. You know what it means
2. You know how to say it
3. You know how to spell it
4. You know when and when not to use it (put it in context)
5. You know the grammar of the word (e.g. which word must follow it?) – collocation, dependent prepositions etc

Example: Difficulty

The state or condition of being difficult.
“Simon had no difficulty in making friends”

difficulty (noun)
difficult (adjective)

4 syllables – stress the first syllable

NOUN – make the plural by changing the ‘y’ to ‘i’ and adding ‘es’ – difficulties

to HAVE difficulty IN doing something
When you read new words in your course book, write them down. When you’re reading something online, from a song, film, book etc. Write down these words too.

– collocation – to HAVE difficulty
– prepositions – difficulty IN
– Example sentence – “I have difficulty (in) remembering all the new words.”

Online dictionaries will give you this information including pronunciation and translation.

You should learn some vocabulary in 'chunks'. Chunks are pieces of languague that go together and often have a particulary funtion. A single unit of meaning.

Do you mind if….. (asking for permission)
Would you like…. (offering)

I’m looking forward to…. (talking about the future with positive anticipation) – “I’m looking forward to the weekend.” – It’s often used in writing for finishing letters and emails.


Words which like to go together – Some words are good friends, they are best mates.
Examples: make money, do business, have fun, have difficulty, make mistakes, good luck, healthy appetite.
There are many different kinds of collocations and studying them will help you pass the FCE exam.

Here are some examples:

verb + noun – have a relationship
noun + verb – (the) alarm went off / (I can hear the) dog barking
adverb + adjective – very kind / absolutely fantastic! / totally awesome!
adjective + noun – regular exercise – I like taking regular exercise.
noun + noun – bar of chocolate, a bar of soap
verb + adverb – kissed me tenderly (She gave me a tender kiss) / whisper softly

  have a shower
  catch a bus
  do someone a favour
  break a promise
  take a chance
  make progress
  Phrasal Verbs

Don’t learn them in long, unconnected lists – learn them in context
Relationships : hit on someone, get together (with someone), go out with, break up with / split up with, make up with, settle down

Don’t panic or get stressed, learn them gradually.
Mark the stress on new words. For example, /re-LA-tion-ship/ /DI-fi-cul-ty/


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