7 Practical Words Sources for Language Learners Needed to Improve Your Vocabulary


Have you ever thought about new words sources? All right, we have an application that helps memorize new words and phrases. But where can we exactly get these words? If you have such a question, this article will help you find the answer.

Many apps designed to expand your vocabulary offer you ready-made sets of words (often for money) that you just take and learn.

  • You’d think this is very simple;
  • There is no need to worry about anything;
  • Everything’s ready (there are sets on certain topics, high-frequency words, idioms, etc.).

But for some reason, the study of such sets usually goes hard with no interest. One might even say it’s boring and tedious. So, this is actually one of the reasons why a person gives up learning a language.

Important words in a book
The way you form your vocabulary matters

Why is it so “hard” to learn these pre-made word sets?

And the reason is precisely the fact that someone else has already prepared these words for you.

You are in no way associatively attached to the words that you are studying like that.

This is particularly true for more “advanced” words and expressions, more so if you are trying to learn them without context (nevertheless, let’s face it, such sets can be, to a certain extent, useful if you are learning your very first words). If the only place you come across a word you are learning is in the application where you are learning it, this word will disappear from your head soon enough.

What words should I learn and where can I get them?

In fact, the answer has already been partially stated above. First and foremost, you need to learn the words that you yourself use in your colloquial speech, the words that you see in the books you read, hear in the movies you watch, and everything that’s interesting directly to you!

And you should definitely do it in context!

This is the key point. Words that are anchored to you personally will be assimilated much more easily and faster. Most importantly, you will be more willing to use them in your speech or writing in the foreign language you study. Without mentioning it, you’re going to enjoy the feeling that now you know how to say or write a phrase you often use in your native language. Of course, there is such a thing as “most common” words (top verbs, nouns, adjectives, etc.). But in any case, a person’s vocabulary is always an individual. Only you can get into your head and figure out which words you use more often than others.

Moreover, when you learn or repeat “your” words, pictures of where you first encountered this word (for example, a scene from a movie you watched and worked through) often pop up in your brain, which greatly helps you memorize the phrase you are learning.

And if you’re wondering how many words you need to know, read this article. Here we explained how many words a student needs for different levels of language proficiency.

So let’s find more details about the specific sources of new words.

Words Source 1: Group classes and private lessons with a teacher

Classes are probably the first thing anyone does to learn a new language. Often, at the end of each class, your teacher gives you a list of new words to learn at home. Or, if you’re a studious student and have time to do this during class, you can make this list of unfamiliar words by yourself. This is the first set of words that need to be learned since they are usually the words you need to know in order to step your language proficiency up a notch, plus it will increase your academic performance (if the task of learning a language lies partly in that).

A teacher gives a private lesson
Group classes and private lessons are the first words source you will probably face.

Words Source 2: Textbooks, books, articles, and other printed matter

Whether you attend classes or study on your own, in any case, you use textbooks or some kind of other educational material. Typically, the vocabulary in such textbooks is as simple as possible and, again, as close to your current level as possible (assuming you chose the textbook correctly, of course). So diligently write out all the unfamiliar words you come across in your personal dictionary.

It also makes sense to start reading “non-academic” literature in the language you study (if you are not already doing this).

Here we should make some caveats. Many people recommend starting reading in a foreign language with the so-called “adapted for your level” books. On the one hand, this is a good idea. It will allow you to progress faster in terms of reading the book itself, and to become familiar with simple grammatical constructions of building sentences. But often, the range of such books is very limited. Many people start reading some kind of folk tale and, as is usually the case, abandon this reading quickly enough.

If you’re wondering “why is this happening?”, we have already answered this question: a banal lack of interest.

All of this will be a lot more dynamic for you if you don’t pay attention to how “complicated” something is and just read what you really like, no matter what kind of book it is (a fiction book, a self-help book, or a programming textbook). Choose what you want to do, analyze sentences, have unfamiliar words written out for you, and master vocabulary on topics you’re interested in.

And don’t pay attention to the fact that sometimes you add a whole bunch of new words to your dictionary out of just one sentence, and that the overall progress of reading the book itself is very slow. Your first priority should be to study the language, and if you end up reading the book fully, it will be a great bonus and something to be proud of.

a book on the table
Books and textbooks are the second important words source.

Words Source 3: Movies and TV series (with subtitles)

This is probably one of the best sources of new words because if you choose the right material, you will simultaneously work with visuals, audio, and reading (subtitle analysis). You will also be able to have positive emotions from watching the video because you like this one so much. The emotional response will help you remember new words and phrases much better, so that’s the most important part.

In any case, we need subtitles because we need to look at the syntax of the sentences the characters are in and write out words and expressions that we don’t know.

A man watches TV-show
Watching movies and TV series with subtitles is very helpful for expanding your vocabulary.

Which types of movies and TV series you should give preference to 

The movie, of course, should be interesting to you (we will never tire of repeating that since it is critically important for your learning process). And if there is a choice, it is better to give preference to movies and TV shows that are close to our reality.

Sitcoms are usually well suited because they often show scenes from our daily lives, and therefore, you will get acquainted with exactly those words and expressions that you will often use in your everyday speech. In addition, sitcoms often feature a lot of interesting idiomatic expressions.

The various types of drama and melodrama also work well (for the same reasons), plus, unlike in sitcoms, the speech in such movies is usually much more leisurely, which will make it easier for us to master word recognition by ear.

However, if you are obsessed with fantasy or science fiction, go ahead, go for it! Here you will definitely come across many words that you will rarely use in your everyday speech, but along with them, you will learn “more necessary” words and phrases. So do not worry too much about that score. In general, you will progress, and that’s all that matters! Watching movies and TV series with subtitles is very helpful for expanding your vocabulary.

Words Source 4: Computer and Video Games

Yeah, it can also be a great source for your vocabulary buildup, provided that:

  • you enjoy playing computer games and do so on a regular basis (since you’re already doing so, why not combine learning and fun? );
  • a game has text content that can be useful for your studies (i.e., different kinds of casual games are not suitable);
  • a game dynamic allows you to make a pause, work the text through, and write out new words with context (3D action games like “Half-Life” are also brushed aside).

In this regard, all kinds of turn-based strategies, quests, and other “leisurely” games are best suited. I think you get the point.

All you need to do is to find the appropriate game translated into the language you study.

Of course, those who study English are lucky, since finding a suitable game will not be very difficult. But if you study some less widely spoken language, then you will have to try hard.

It doesn’t matter what, games always give us the emotions and images we need to learn new words.

At the same time, you improve your language proficiency skills. This is just the perfect mix for gamers!

Mario stands on the ground
Video games are the perfect source of new words too.

Words Source 5: Songs

This source of new words is especially suitable for you if you are a music lover.

But there’s no need to translate every song you hear. The approach is the same: we only work on what you particularly like.

If, for example, you study Italian and, at the same time, are a fan of Adriano Celentano and listen to his songs all the time, feel free to take them into work. A big advantage of such a “study” is that you build up your personal dictionary with new phrases, and that it will also be much easier for you to memorize them. In the future, when you listen to this song, your brain will automatically “repeat” these words and learn to distinguish them in context (thereby improving your “listening” skills at the same time). It also helps improve your “pronunciation” skills if you love to sing and at least say the words of the song when you listen to it. Cool, right?

But there is a nuance here.

Song narrative is often not so straightforward, and this significantly complicates the “translation process”. You may know how to translate each word, but you may not understand the meaning. In addition, there may often be so-called “conversational grammar,” which can be confusing.

If the song is famous enough, search engines will help you find a lyrics translation already made by someone else, which will definitely help you out. But if the song isn’t so popular, then your language teacher (if you have one) or a native speaker can help you get the essence of the lyrics.

In any case, by learning songs in this way, you immerse yourself deeper into the culture of that country and those people who speak the language you study. So you shouldn’t neglect it. Listening to foreign music improves your vocabulary, listening and speaking skills.

Now let’s move on to the most “difficult” but particularly valuable sources of new words.

A man is listening to the music as a words source
Listening to foreign songs improves your vocabulary, listening and speaking skills.

Words Source 6: Communication

If you want to master a foreign language, communication practice is essential. However, here we are not talking about the necessity of this practice, but about what it can give you in terms of replenishing your vocabulary with new words. And it can give you a lot.

Because when we communicate with other people, we try to build sentences based on our existing vocabulary (in our native language). And this is exactly the place where all our gaps are exposed very well. When we sometimes start stumbling and don’t know how to express our thoughts in such a way that our interlocutor understands them (because we simply don’t know how to translate this or that word). And your task here is not to dismiss this (although during communication, of course, you need to replace words that you cannot yet translate with other phrases and words that you already know), but to remember and subsequently record in some way (in your notebook or the Langavia Personal Dictionary application, for example) all the words and expressions that you could not use when communicating.

In this way, you will directly work with the words that you use in your everyday speech. Because your native language has a lot of words that are used all the time, these words will easily move into your vocabulary of a foreign language you are learning. Perhaps it’s not possible to find a better source of new words.

Friends are talking to each other as a words source
Communication will help you identify the words and phrases you need to know to be fluent in the language.

Source 7: Thoughts and inner discourse

And in conclusion, let’s talk about what, ideally, everyone wishing to master a foreign language in perfection should come to. Namely, the ability to think in a foreign language.

We all have our own inner discourse in our native language — try to convert this dialogue in your native language into one in a language you study. This can be a challenging task, especially if you’ve never done it before. But it’s worth it — the efficiency of developing your spoken language and identifying gaps in your vocabulary is simply off the charts.

And if you are a big introvert and do not really like communicating with people in general, this method can help you out a lot, because here you are one-on-one with yourself.

Think, reflect, and talk to yourself in a foreign language the way you usually do it in your native language. In doing so, as in real communication with other people, do not forget to write down words and expressions that you cannot translate into the foreign language you study. It would be perfect if you put the entire sentence as a context in your dictionary.

A woman thinks near the window
Talk to yourself and find new words this way.

Final Words

Learning a foreign language is a long and, at times, seemingly unending, process.

Sometimes you need to set aside time specifically for language study. For example, time for classes with a teacher, grammar, and learning new words. But overall, try to incorporate language study into your daily routine. In this case, the learning process will be as smooth and efficient as possible.

By the way, if you thought that it would be necessary to cram – you’re mistaken. In this article, we explained why learning is better than cramming.

Believe in yourself and good things will happen to you!

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Langavia Team

We help people to learn new languages and expand their vocabulary effectively.

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  1. Jeremy

    Thnx for a good article. Previously i didn’t think about thoughts and inner discourse as a way of expanding my vocabulary, because how can I find new words in my mind if I dont know them at all. I found out that I can do that by remembering words i previosly heard somewhere. Great, thanks again!