According to science, our brain is mainly an image processor, not a word processor. This is proof of the fact that visual learning is much more effective than any other learning methods. Hence, when you learn English vocabulary through pictures, it’s easier to understand and remember. You will have a lot of fun and feel no pressure with your learning process. This article offers you 6 best ways to learn English vocabulary through pictures.
1 Picture books
I know what you are thinking, ‘Picture books are for children‘. But being a second language learner, you learn English just like native children learn their mother tongue. So imitate the way they learn, and you’ll see the good results.
Each picture in a Picture book illustrates a simple short verbal narrative. This is a plus of Picture books. When you close the book, I’m pretty sure that you can still remember what you’ve read as the pictures tell you all.
Moreover, there are picture books for all ages now. You can pick the one that you find suitable for your English level.
How to learn English vocabulary through Picture book?
- Read the narrative of the picture.
- Learn the expressions and new words from the narrative.
- If you notice any objects in the picture that you don’t know what they are in English, search the Internet for them.
- Look at the picture and try to narrate the story in your own expressions. By this way, you can learn many new words at the same time and still remember them well because:
- All the words are linked to a story.
- It’s easier to remember the picture than the new words you learned. More importantly, that picture illustrates a narrative. And each time you imagine that picture in your head, you can tell the story. When you tell the story, you have done a revision for your new words.
I will take a page from the picture book ‘Off to See Spiders!‘ by Vena Kapoor as an example.
From the narrative, we can learn
|Look||verb||/lʊk/||to direct your eyes in order to see|
|Like||preposition||/laɪk/||similar to; in the same way or manner as|
|Crab||noun||/kræb/||a sea creature with five pairs of legs and a round, flat body covered by a shell, or its flesh eaten as food|
|Say||verb||/seɪ/||to pronounce words or sounds, to express a thought, opinion, or suggestion, or to state a fact or instruction|
|Squint||verb||/skwɪnt/||to partly close your eyes in order to see more clearly|
|Yellow||noun||/ˈjel.oʊ/||a colour like that of a lemon or gold or the sun|
|Flower||noun||/ˈflaʊ.ɚ/||the part of a plant that is often brightly coloured and has a pleasant smell, or the type of plant that produces these|
|Spider||noun||/ˈspaɪ.dɚ/||a small creature with eight thin legs that catches insects in a web (= a net made from sticky threads)|
|Caught||verb||/kɑːt/||past simple and past participle of catch|
|Bee||noun||/biː/||a yellow and black flying insect that makes honey and can sting you|
|Visit||verb||/ˈvɪz.ɪt/||to go to a place in order to look at it, or to a person in order to spend time with them|
|Wonder||noun||/ˈwʌn.dɚ/||a feeling of great surprise and admiration caused by seeing or experiencing something that is strange and new|
|See||verb||/siː/||to be conscious of what is around you by using your eyes|
|Same||adjective||/seɪm/||exactly like another or each other|
|Colour||noun||/ˈkʌl.ɚ/||red, blue, green, yellow, etc.|
- Look (v) like sth: to be similar in appearance to something
- Squint (v) at sth: to partly close your eyes to see sth more clearly
- No wonder: it is not surprising
- The same as: exactly like another or each other
Now when you have already learned all the vocabulary and grammars, let’s look at the picture. What does the picture show you? Can you produce your own narrative? Here’s mine:
‘The little girl squinted(1) at the yellow flower(2). She saw(3) a spider(4). It looked(5) like(6) a crab(7). The spider caught(8) a bee(9). The bee might have not seen the spider as it has the same(10) colour(11) as the flower.’
In my narrative, I have used 11 over 15 of my new words, and 3 over 4 new phrases. Not bad, right?
2 Comic books
For comic fans, this might be the best way to learn English vocabulary. Even if you are not really a fan, I’m pretty sure that you will find your own interests in learning English through Comic books because:
- It entertains you.
- You can learn the most colloquial vocabulary and phrases.
- You can learn vocabulary with particular subjects. For example: If you have an interest in Crime and Criminal, you can read Detective Conan. If you love cuisine, you can read Yakitate!! Japan.
How to learn English vocabulary through Comic books?
Learning English through Comic books is quite the same as the way you do with Picture books. The only difference here is that the narrative in Comic books is shorter, and a picture usually illustrates an action. So this is how we learn:
- Note down any new words or phrases.
- To memorize the words, memorize the picture illustrating them first. This would help you to learn vocabulary effortlessly and effectively.
This simple short comic ‘Donald the duck‘ from Walt Disney offers you some basic vocabularies relating to Weather subject:
- Attention (n): notice, thought, or interest
- Bulletin (n): a short news programme on television or radio, often about something that has just happened, or a short newspaper printed by an organization
- Hurricane warning service: a government system or private organization that is responsible for making people understand that the Hurricane is coming
- Hurricane wind: a violent wind that has a circular movement, especially in the West Atlantic Ocean
- Moving inland: to change the position to the middle of a country, away from the sea
If you want more pictures relating to the words you learn, you can find them yourself.
From my own experiences, the two best free websites for this learning method are Google Image and Giphy. Both of these websites allow you to find hundreds to thousands of pictures by just typing what you want to look up in the search bar.
With Google Image, you will find the most beautiful and professional pictures. Also, Google will suggest other related words so you can have the chance to find out more. For example, I searched for the word ‘sunset’ on Google Image and this is what I found:
I also found other related words that Google suggested to me, such as landscape, beach, ocean, sunrise, etc.
With Giphy, you will find the most vivid gifs illustrating your new words. I also searched for the word ‘sunset’ on Giphy and it has more than 3,000 gifs for this. Those vivid short gifs make me understand the word ‘sunset’ immediately without needing to look it up on the dictionary. Giphy also suggests related words to me like ‘sunset boulevard’, ‘sunrise’, ‘seascape’, ‘clouds’.
Learning English with Flashcards is a widely applied method.
Basic Flashcards have 2 sides: one has a question, or the definition, an example or a picture, the other has the new word and its pronunciation. This means that Flashcards help you to sum everything you need to learn up. They help you to memorize new words faster and easier, to learn and revise vocabulary everywhere you want as they are obviously portable.
How to learn English vocabulary with Flashcards?
Firstly, you need to have a set of Flashcards. You can buy it, or create it yourself.
Secondly, carefully read all the information about the word on both sides. Remember to focus on the picture, attach it to the new word in your mind. Don’t try to memorize the exact definition as this just makes you forget the new word faster.
Thirdly, take regular revision for your vocabulary with Flashcards.
If you want a more detail guide for this learning method, check out the article My Best Way to Learn Vocabulary with Flash Cards.
Infographic is graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge intended to present information quickly and clearly.
An infographic offers us new words that are logically linked together in a chain of information, along with illustrating pictures. This helps English learners like us to take in new words much faster.
Plus, You can find infographics from numerous subjects to learn.
How to learn English vocabulary with Infographics?
- Find an infographic of your favorite subject. (If you don’t know where to find these, try Visual dictionary online.)
- Learn the new words
Try this infographic of Thai boys’ rescue plan:
From this infographic, we can clearly see new words with illustrating pictures:
- Navy diver
- Static rope
- Full-face scuba mask
- Air tank
6 Vocabulary sets with illustrating pictures
Vocabulary set is a group of vocabularies that are of the same topic.
Each vocabulary in a set is designed as a flashcard. Because of this, a set of vocabulary makes it far more convenient and efficient for us to learn. If you want to prepare for your IELTS test, you can easily found a “Vocabulary for IELTS”. If you are a beginner in English, you can start with a “Vocabulary for Beginners”.
How to learn English vocabulary through a vocabulary set?
If you find this process kind of tiring for lots of steps, you may need to know Vocabulary sets with illustrating images of eJOY.
Here’s how you do it:
Step 1. Download eJOY eXtension and log in/ or sign up.
Step 2. Open any vocabulary collection.
Step 3. Select the new words and add them to your Word Bank by one of these ways:
- Way 1: click the ‘Add’ button to save English definition
- Way 2: mark the word to look it up in eJOY eXtension. Click ‘translate’ (translate your language) or definition (English definition) and click ‘Add’.
Step 4. Take revision for new words by playing games
- Go to Game Center (or eJOY will remind you whenever you open Chrome browser)
- Play with all new words you need to revise, or just enough to reach your goal
- eJOY will continue to remind you whether there are any new words to revise or not.
The first time you learn the cards from the same topic with illustrating pictures, pronunciation, and examples. From the following times, you will revise the vocabulary through not only pictures but also audios, and videos. The sequence and frequency of repetition of words are calculated based on Spaced Repetition method, which helps you to have long-term memory of new words.
Let’s start learning English vocabulary with eJOY right now!
Hope that you can choose the most suitable way to learn English vocabulary through pictures. Best wishes for you!