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Learning Zone
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How to practice & improve vocabulary? | B2 First (FCE)

Level: B2
How to practice & improve vocabulary? | B2 First (FCE)
Article navigation:
Read articles and essays
Learn Roots
Search for materials to read
Focus on specific types of vocabulary
Memorize English better
Keep track of your English vocabulary
B2 First (FCE)
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Reading is the quickest and most effective way to learn new vocabulary and phrases.

It may include reading articles or doing specifically prepared vocabulary exercises. Although you can learn new vocabulary by listening to podcasts or watching YouTube videos, such exercises are not as efficient as reading.

Start reading regularly in English and learn new vocabulary for about 9 months (or at least 5 to 6 months) before taking the exam. Improving English vocabulary will not happen quickly!

Read articles and essays

When taking the B2 First (FCE) exam, you should improve your knowledge of English vocabulary on various topics. It seems to be slower to do so by reading novels or books (which are generally devoted to one subject).

Reading articles (as well as reviews and essays) is more effective in expanding your vocabulary on different topics. It will increase the possibility that the vocabulary you know appears on the exam.

Besides reading articles, you can also do vocabulary exercises (either online or in books).

Similarly to the articles, do exercises on topics and types of vocabulary commonly used during the exam.

Learn Roots

Learn the roots of words. Most words in the English language are built from a common root, prefix, and suffix, usually with an origin in the Greek or Latin language.

Once you learn a root, you’ll begin to understand more words that use the same root. For example, -duc- (Latin root word) means to lead or to make, such as in the words produce or deduce.

Search for materials to read

Finding articles to read in English on common topics used in the exam isn’t difficult. Nevertheless, finding articles at the right level both for you and the exam might be challenging.

For instance, texts written for native English-speaking adults may be too complicated, and consequently, you may be confused and frustrated.

You can either read things designed specifically for FCE learners, texts intended for students with an intermediate level of English (very similar to FCE), or texts written for or by English-speaking young teenagers.

Below are some websites and resources for reading materials you can use:

Focus on specific types of vocabulary

If you would like to succeed at the B2 First (FCE), you should focus on learning specific types of vocabulary. Looking at the past exams, there are several topics which are often used.

We suggest focusing mainly on the topics listed below:

The environment
vocabulary connected to the weather, climate change, pollution, recycling, animals, plants, different types of habitats (deserts, sea, urban (e.g. towns and cities) etc…
vocabulary connected to different types of jobs and places of work, applying for a job, what people do in work etc…
vocabulary connected to the internet, social networks, using computers etc…
vocabulary connected to films/movies, books, music, concerts etc…
vocabulary connected to ways of travelling, going on holiday, problems related to travelling etc…
Social activities and hobbies
vocabulary connected to sports, hobbies, restaurants, shopping etc…
vocabulary connected to studying at school and university
Family and relationships
vocabulary related to family, friends and other types of relationships

Memorize English better

Starting with just reading or hearing English, you will gradually improve your English vocabulary. However, it will take some time.

The best way to understand and memorize new vocabulary is to focus on guessing its meaning from the contexts.

Next, check the dictionary to make sure you are right, then make a sentence with a given word.

Keep track of your English vocabulary

It’s easy to forget new words if you don’t make note of what you are learning. Be sure to keep a list of the new words as you learn them.

Consider keeping a word journal. Looking at the progress you’ve made with English vocabulary will give you something to review. It will also give you the pride and confidence to keep learning.

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