I believe the best way to learn English vocabulary is by topics with explanations of meaning, examples of usage and subsequent exercises. It is possible to practise English vocabulary through exercises in listening comprehension, speaking, reading and writing.
Learners of English should have lists of difficult word meanings and of phrases (expressions) on every topic with usage sentences. They must read those ready-made vocabulary usage sentences many times if needed. Longman Language Activator Dictionary (unique English Idea Production Dictionary) covers this issue thoroughly. It is essential that learners also make up their own sentences with that vocabulary, taking into consideration real life situations.
Students of English can learn a lot of vocabulary on every topic from thematic English dictionaries. Good thematic English dictionaries provide clear word usage explanations and also a few usage sentences for each word meaning, which is especially important. It is essential that students of English also make up their own sentences with difficult vocabulary. They should think about the real life situations where and when that vocabulary can be used.
Do ready-made exercises from textbooks in vocabulary practice. Exercises in vocabulary practice can include dialogues, narrations (telling stories), thematic texts, questions and answers in various situations, discussions, talking points and expressing opinions and views on real life topics and issues.
Learners can also master new English vocabulary by reading thematic texts (materials), first of all on everyday topics with important content, for example: Practical Tips and Advice to Make Everyday Life Easier and Better (practical solutions for everyday problems). Such self-help books on settling everyday matters are available at book stores. Learners must write down unknown vocabulary in whole sentences. It is essential that they practise telling the content of the texts that they have read. As people say, practice makes perfect.
Thematic General English Dictionaries (extremely important for logical and quicker vocabulary acquisition):
- Longman Language Activator (Unique idea production English dictionary, very valuable for solid vocabulary acquisition). There is also Longman Pocket Activator Dictionary. Longman English dictionaries are the most authoritative.
- Longman Lexicon of Contemporary English.
- The Oxford-Duden Pictorial English Dictionary (by J. Pheby, 1995, 816 pages).
- Oxford Learner's Wordfinder Dictionary.
- Word Menu (dictionary by Stephen Glazier, Random House, USA, over 75 000 words arranged by subject matter).
- Cambridge Word Selector/Routes.
- NTC's Dictionary of Everyday American English Expressions (over 7, 000 phrases arranged by topics).
Thank you to Mike Shelby for offering this advice on ways to master English vocabulary based on his considerable English teaching experience.