The process of acquiring new English words, idioms, phrases, and expanding one's vocabulary is most effectively achieved through a method known as contextual learning. This method involves learning new words and phrases by understanding them in the context of sentences or narratives, rather than in isolation. But what constitutes the optimal strategy for implementing this method of learning?

Here are the steps I follow: Initially, I assemble a comprehensive list of English words that are unfamiliar to me. These could be words I've come across in books, articles, or conversations that I didn't fully understand.

Once I have this list, I turn to Copilot, an AI assistant, for help. I ask Copilot to provide the Persian meanings of these words, as Persian is my native language. Understanding the meanings of these words in my native language helps me grasp their nuances better.

In addition to the meanings, I also ask Copilot to provide definitions of these words in English. This helps me understand how these words are used in the English language context.

But I don't stop there. I also ask Copilot to craft a narrative in English that includes all the words from my list. This narrative serves as a practical example of how these words can be used in real-life contexts. Reading these words in a story makes them more memorable and helps me understand their usage better.

This approach has proven to be quite effective for me. It allows me to commit the words to memory after just one reading within the story's context. The combination of understanding the meanings in my native language, the definitions in English, and seeing the words used in a narrative, provides a robust learning experience.

However, I'm always open to improvements. Are my steps correct? Is there a more efficient way to learn new English words using the contextual learning method? I'm eager to hear any suggestions or feedback.

  • Why not just use the context where you originally saw the words?
    – Lambie
    Commented Mar 17 at 15:31
  • If you're learning from context, then I don't see why you necessarily need a list. For material on paper/ebooks, using a highlighter pen or highlight command will be enough. Efficiency is a balancing act, though. In theory, the more you highlight, the more you are learning, however, if it's too difficult, then it won't stick together well in your mind. On the other hand, if the material is too easy (i.e. no words are unfamiliar), then you're not really expanding your vocabulary, either. The highlighting-pen method has the advantage that you can easily review the words (in context) later.
    – Brandin
    Commented Mar 18 at 12:14

1 Answer 1


Contextual learning is surely one of the best methods to enhance your vocabulary. But linguists suggest many other methods to improve vocabulary. Since everyone has difference learning curves, so a more general approach is suggested. As cherry on the top, I would like to give you some suggestions that complement your already very effective technique.

  • Instead of relying too much on the Copilots intelligence, use your own. By this I mean, try to write as much as you can using the new words you learn. You can write blogs, short stories, articles for the magazines, newspapers and so on. Ones language blooms when he puts it from his brain to the paper without any aid.
  • Expand your scope of reading, every domain of art and science uses a subset of language. This is why a doctor could not communicate with a software engineer, and so on. Terms like hypervirtualization is unknown to people working in cloud systems. So, expanding your scope of reading would expose you to many new words. Don't expect even native English speaks to know 100% of the words in English.
  • Try to indulge yourself in conversation with native speakers. There are so many online chatrooms you could join.
  • Make your habit a fun - try using flash cards. Get some buddies who share similar interest.
  • DON'T translate everything you learn in Persian. Whenever you find a new word, look for its meaning in English to English dictionary. This would help your brain train in English.
  • Listen to learned and knowledgeable people, Oprah could teach you better English than Taylor Swift. You know what I mean.

Happy Learning!

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