Transparent Language Blog

Beef up your vocab 🐄 Posted by on Jan 23, 2024 in For Learners, Learning + Usage Tips

If your 2024 goal is to improve your proficiency, vocab is the way.

Proficiency levels have consistently been shown to increase in tandem with vocabulary size.1, 2, 3 And studies show that of all factors contributing to language proficiency, vocabulary size is by far the single most significant factor.4, 5, 6

In most cases, you’re looking at ~1,000 new words and phrases to level up one CEFR level.

That’s roughly 20 new words per week for a year. Completing one lesson per week in Transparent Language Online will get you most of the way there. New words and phrases from lessons are automatically added to your Learned Vocab. You’ll be prompted to review periodically so you know you’re actually learning retaining all that new vocab.

But there are other ways to really beef up your vocab beyond the lessons!

  1. Add extra vocab from lessons.

If you’re working on our Real World lessons or “for Professionals” courses, you’re learning 15ish new words per lesson. But you can add extra vocab from elsewhere in the lesson. The lesson text. Or the culture slides.  Or even comprehension questions in the target language. The lesson is your oyster!

Highlight any word or phrase from the lesson and right click to add it to your Learned Vocab. And if you’re not sure of the meaning, you can also right click to translate first before adding.

  1. Add vocab from anything else you read, watch, or listen to.

News articles. Podcast interviews. YouTube videos. Whatever authentic sources you’re consuming in the target language. Import the text or transcript into Transparent Language Online. Then select new vocab to add to your Learned Vocab for future reviewing.

On the Add Learned Vocab screen, look for the “Add from Source” link. There, you can import a text from a URL or paste in a text. Then highlight the words and phrase you’d like to et voilà.

Add vocab from a text

Tip: For audio sources, look for videos/podcasts that include transcriptions that you can paste in. Many YouTube videos include automated transcripts now that you can find in the video description.

how to find the transcription on youtube videos


  1. Add more context to your vocab.

Building vocab isn’t just about adding more and more words. It’s about how well you know the words you’ve already learned. Which is why Learned Vocab refresh exists in the first place!

You can layer on other memory aids to your Learned Vocab. Images. Example sentences. Grammar notes. Whatever helps you remember as you’re refreshing.

Edit from the refresh screen by clicking the Edit button in the bottom right on any given word. Or edit via the Manage Vocab screen to edit words in bulk.

Add context to your learned vocab

Beef up your Learned Vocab now. And stay tuned for an update soon about new and easier ways to refresh it all! 👀

1 Huhta, Ari J. et al. (2011) Diagnosing reading in L2 – predictors and vocabulary profiles, Vortrag auf der ACTFL CEFR Conference 2011, 4.-6. August 2011, Provo, Utah (USA).

2 Milton, J., & Alexiou, T. (2010). Developing a vocabulary size test for Greek as a foreign language

3 Tschirner, E., J. Hacking, and F. Rubio. (2017). Relating Vocabulary Size to ACTFL Reading Proficiency Levels. Conference Paper, Refereed. ACTFL Annual Convention. Nashville, TN., 2017

4 Alderson, J.C. (2005). Diagnosing foreign language proficiency. London: Continuum.

5 Laufer, B. (1992). How much lexis is necessary for reading comprehension? In H. Bejoint & P. Arnaud (Eds.), Vocabulary and applied linguistics (pp. 126–132). London: Macmillan.

6 Stæhr, L. S. (2008). Vocabulary size and the skills of listening, reading and writing. Language Learning Journal, 36(2), 139-152.

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About the Author: meaghan

Meaghan is the Marketing Communications Manager at Transparent Language. She speaks enough French and Spanish to survive, and remembers enough Hausa to say "Hello my name is Meaghan, I'm studying Hausa." (But sadly that's it).

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