Since I was in junior high and high school, I have been feeling that I can often encounter new words again soon after learning them for the first time.

You will be pleasantly surprised, exclaiming, “Oh, I met this word again!”, if you encounter a new word again soon in a different context, and you will rapidly become attached to the word.

Conversely, however motivated you are to memorize words in word books, if you have never actually seen them used in real contexts, it is no wonder that you come to question the meaning of memorizing them.

So, in order to make new words take root in your memory and feel familiar with them, it’s better to have many chances to encounter those words in real situations.

There are two ways to do that; one is to aim to get those opportunities to some extent, leaving it to chance at the same time, and the other is to only aim, without recourse to chance.

The former way is to “read as many passages as possible, instead of being obsessed with word books, if you want to learn more words”.

For example, some people stare at word books all the time, even memorizing not only the first meaning but also the other meanings of a word correctly, and think that their English is perfect.

But that is just like feeling able to hit a ball after practicing swinging a bat in baseball.

Of course, just as swinging practice by itself is well worth it, so learning from word books in itselfis well worth it too, but not practicing hitting a moving ball will get you nowhere in real games.

Just as breaking balls are used in baseball, the meanings of words vary from context to context.

So it is necessary to narrow the various possible meanings down to one, thinking, “This word means ‘this’ when it is used in this kind of grammatical structure” or, “Based on the development of the story so far, this word should mean ‘this’”.

In baseball, just being good at swinging a bat is not all it takes to hit a ball either. With all the types of pitches the opponent pitcher can throw in mind, you must be able to eliminate unlikely possibilities, thinking, “The count is now two and two, so he must throw his best pitch, a forkball.
If that is not sharp enough, I’ll scoop it up and make a long hit. If he sees through me and throws a straight, I can delay the start of my swing and foul it”.

Just like there are various pitches, there are often various meanings in an English word, so practicing how to narrow the choice is just as important as the simple task of memorizing words.

Even if you memorize a word in a word book, it will be useless if you don’t use that knowledge somewhere else.

Our brain forgets the word, thinking that if it’s not used, it must be useless. So it is necessary to have chances to be exposed to words somewhere outside of word books too.

↑I can almost hear you say, “That’s more than I can do”.

Then, you could start by choosing and reading those books or those pages of the newspaper that interest you.

After that, you could explore further.

As is true in Japanese too, you can never expand your vocabulary if you don’t try.

Now, one of the ways to meet new words again inevitably, removing any chance, is to use the example search function of an electronic dictionary.

Electronic dictionaries have this useful function, that can never be realized by conventional paper dictionaries, (not all electronic dictionaries have the function, so please be careful), so it would be advisable to think of buying one regardless of the cost.

It would be even better if you choose those models that come with “The Kenkyusha Dictionary of English Collocations”, because the number of example sentences and phrases increases dramatically.

By using this example search function, you can get access to the rich stock of examples through which you can learn the actual usage of the new words you remember.

Here, the less time you have spent on studying English so far, the more likely you are to find new words in those examples, which gives you the advantage of increasing your exposure to words.

Also, even in the case of learners who have already learned quite a lot of words, it is “doubly” meaningful to check out the new usages of words, as well as learning new words.

For example, suppose you encounter the word “promote” for the first time, and do the example search to learn how it is actually used.

そして、promote world peace という用例に出会ったとします。
And you find this example, “promote world peace”.

world peace (世界平和)というフレーズはすでに知っていたとすると、これは、①promote がどんな目的語とセットとなるのか、一つ例がわかった ということでもあり、かつ、②world peace がどんな動詞とセットなるのか、一つ例が分かった ということでもあるわけです。
If you already know the phrase, “world peace”, then this means, ①you found out one example of what kind of objects “promote” is combined with, and ②you found out one example of what kind of verbs “world peace” is combined with.

Please note that it would cost 20 to 30 thousand yen to buy a decent electronic dictionary.

I know that’s quite a lot of money, so if you are not willing to do that yet, you could use some other means, even though it’s a bit less convenient.

That is, to search a database which is provided on the Internet for free.

The best example is Eijiro on ALC’s website.

It has a quite large stock of English expressions available, sorted by both Japanese and English keywords.

The URL is http://www.alc.co.jp/ .

Also, there are various dictionaries that are provided for free on the Internet. But there are not many that are rich in examples.

私自身が気に入っているオンラインの辞書は、Longman’s Online dictionary です。
My favorite online dictionary is Longman’s Online Dictionary.

I find it useful because it lists many example sentences and give comparatively detailed explanations as to the differences between synonyms.

アドレスはこちらです。 http://pewebdic2.cw.idm.fr/