• Do you want to boost your vocabulary knowledge, read and comprehend new texts, and be a good conversationalist? • Do you feel that your writing style stays the same every time you put your pen to paper? • Do you like to improve your learning habits and enhance your memory and attention?  • Do you struggle understanding course content in college, or are you a teacher who wants to help your students build their academic vocabulary? • Do you like to improve and increase your WORD LISTS faster?  If any of the above applies to you, I encourage you to read this book. It identifies and offers help for most issues that arise when you encounter new words which might hinder your understanding of a new text or involvement in conversation. These moments of disconnection come from not knowing words. Thinking strategically and improving your autonomous self-learning skills are the basic aims of this book; they will help you to retain new vocabulary into your longer-term memory and develop your language. For over 10 years, I have been a language learner, teacher and researcher. I have carefully researched and gained so much knowledge from these topics (vocabulary acquisition; vocabulary learning strategy). Now, I am ready to put this book in your hands for you to use as a reference. My greatest motivation to write this book was my students. They struggled hard to keep up with academic work and to write excellent college papers. Now, I want to share what I know to help people like them This book contains the self-learning strategy that each learner has but may not know how to use. TheVocab-backup Strategy has been analytically collected, designed, researched, and finally published to enrich your learning habits with the most important skills you need to build up your vocabulary size. With its sequential processes and procedures, you can develop an excellent knowledge of new vocabulary, beginning with Step 1 - Look for synonyms first - up to Step 5 - Remembering Strategy for Writing.  In this book, the 5 strategy to learn vocabulary is very beneficial for English as a Second Language learners to boost their vocabulary knowledge. It will help them increase and build extra VOCABULARY size for their English Language learning. 

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Adel Alharbi

Vocab-Backup Strategy

5 sequential self-learning steps to boost your vocabulary knowledge

To my mom (Fatimah) and Dad (Marzouq) who taught me my life’s first vocabulary. BookRix GmbH & Co. KG80331 Munich






About This Book


How and Why Did This Strategy Come About?

Why Learning Vocabulary is Important

My Vocabulary Story

Introducing the Vocab-Backup Strategy – VBS


Step #1: Synonyms First!

Synonym Strategies Process

Semantic Map Example


Step #2: Meaning with Context


Step #3: Pronunciation Practice Process


Step #4: Bookmark Your Vocabulary Search


Step #5: Remembering Strategy for Writing








First and foremost, my absolute thanks are to God [Allah, The Creator] who made our knowledge in words to be seen, developed our language to be spoken in infinite tongues and meanings, and guided our actions to the right path.

I would like to give my thanks too to all my professors and students who supported me in writing this book and who showed their motivation toward my book topic. Also, I should give a special thanks to my book editor, Dr. Steven Miller, who made this book look better.

This book’s initial spark came from the immense support and guidance of Dr. Mahmoud Amer, who pushed me to continue investigating this topic. I am especially thankful to the Self-Publishing School for supporting me to walk me through how to publish. I have built more confidence after I joined their program. The pro. class level allowed me to master all the requirements to make my book publishing dream happen. Additional appreciation goes to Dr. Teresa Dalle (my PhD supervisor) for her great assistance and support in guiding my research.

Finally, I must thank Dr. Rebecca Oxford for her endless endeavors to encourage the flourishing of the field of vocabulary learning strategies and language learning strategies. She inspires and motivates us to think strategically in our language learning and to activate the power of self-regulation in the field of Applied Linguistics.

Lastly, my endless gratitude and thanks to my family Samar and Rayan who supported me the whole journey to publish this book. Thank you so much for giving me time and courage to make my book publishing happened on time.



Vocab-Backup Strategy: 5 sequential self-learning steps to boost your vocabulary knowledge aims to help language learners integrate the best strategies in acquiring new words. The core stimulus of this project came after years of teaching ESL students and noticing that students’ language proficiency in most classes (English, history, grammar, reading, and other writing-intensive subjects) were insufficient, despite their academic achievements. In other words, it is neither their lack of learning motivation nor different styles of communication that lowers their language proficiency, but rather a lack of building a sufficiently sized new vocabulary to use the language. Years of research in language learning has shown that most language learners prefer to use a strategy that they can depend on, and most start with vocabulary learning strategy during the process of learning. For this basic reason, I am offering this book for students to succeed in their academic journey and fulfil their course requirements to achieve higher vocabulary knowledge. Frequently, teachers’ frustration about students’ progress was mostly recognized as due to a failure of vocabulary building. This motivated me to contemplate this topic and offer a workable method to learners and teachers as well. Another purpose of this book is to evoke the use of vocabulary learning strategies in the mind of language learners.

I should tell you here that this book is supplementary data for my published paper, “Building Vocabulary for Language Learning: Approach for ESL Learners to Study New Vocabulary” (Alharbi, 2015). This book reveals the full details of the five steps of vocabulary learning strategies called Vocab-Backup Strategy (VBS) to assist English Language Learners (however, it applies to first language users as well). It encourages language learners to be exposed to and to acquire sufficient vocabulary information in a sequence of words’ search that will allow them to maintain their vocabulary knowledge easily. In the previous study, there were five strategies: continuum-building synonyms networking, learning definition(s) with contexts, listening and pronunciation process, remembering strategy for writing, and bookmarked word search, as the measurement of the vocabulary learning habits by L2 learners and native speakers as well. In this presentation, there will be a detailed analysis of the VBS and extra discussions about each strategy explicitly. It is to be assumed that this research will help and enrich ESL teachers’ and students’ perception of vocabulary learning strategy for better language development. Also, it will add extra knowledge of vocabulary learning by examining each sub-category of this approach from the Second Language Acquisition perspective.


I am putting in your hand my passionate project that I have built from nothing. Since I first thought of writing this book, my goal has been to assist teachers and language learners of any language, because what I have gone through during my language learning has proven that the vocabulary learning strategy works better to develop your language, which is necessary for becoming successful in your academic life.

However, and for sure, this work also should empower teachers, educators, English as a second language learners, and curriculum designers. Teaching and learning strategies are the core factors in this book, but more significantly, they are your tool for better learning and for enriching your mind at every moment.

In this project, I prioritize successful practice of language learning. For over eight years I taught language learners, and I decided to create this work to integrate both my learning and teaching practices that converged together from various education experiences. So, I pledge to offer this book as a tool and guide for my students and colleagues to achieve remarkable learning and teaching outcomes.

This book introduces a first-hand work of vocabulary strategy named Vocab-Backup Strategy, or VBS. A word on how this book works: you may realize that each set of vocabulary strategies I will introduce is mingled into one group but consistently intact. In other words, they are ordered from 1 to 5 with some extra explanation for each strategy. This means you need to consider all sub-strategies in relation to the main steps. Do not worry, however! I will get into these details later, and by then you will discover the big picture of how the Strategy works as you finish reading this book.

About This Book

A good strategymust lead your way and light your path. Vocab-backup strategy isa step-by-step guide, but it is also a strategy to help you boostyour vocabulary knowledge. I have tested it, published it, and I nowwant you to benefit from it. Vocabulary learning is a tough andchallenging process, and language speakers and learners needstrategies to help them expand their comprehension of language. Ihave put over eight years of experiences into thinking, analyzing,designing, collecting and developing a highly effective vocabularylearning strategy, which I am now delighted to share with you.Vocab-Backup Strategy, or VBS, is a tool that will assist you as youinfuse your mind with vocabulary, taking ideas from vague globalconcepts to specific local ones. This tool will enrichboth your previous and new vocabulary knowledge, helping you expandyour vocabulary and establish extra connections within the languageareas of your mind. The VBS works sequentially, which means that youhave to complete step number 1 before you move on to step number 2.This process lets your brain work from unknown and easy access wordsto more detailed understanding of the new vocabulary. A good quickskill to have is to write down each of the five steps on a separatenotecard and practice applying each step in turn while encounteringnew vocabulary.

This book wassparked by my students’ determination as they struggled tomanage their language learning and showed that they wanted to succeedin their academic life. If you spend a lot of time reading yourtextbooks or struggling to establish a good writing style, or feelincompetent to speak using proper language, then Vocab-backupStrategy: 5 Sequential Self-learning Steps to Boost your VocabularyKnowledge