Vocabulary building is one of the most effective techniques to develop for efficient language learning. Certainly there is more to language than vocabulary; the grammar puts the words together, and practice makes the sentences you create useful. But without vocabulary you have no sentences to construct, nothing to say, nothing to understand. As you strive to become bilingual, you should focus more and more on vocabulary building because the broader the range of your word choices, the more you can express yourself. That is what fluency is all about!
There are several methods for acquiring a larger vocabulary, but the most important thing is to make learning a full time experience. That is, instead of looking at your allotted study time as the only time you learn, you should incorporate vocabulary into your everyday life. One way to do this is to place sticky notes around your home. Labeling cabinets, appliances, furniture and other familiar items will make you conscious of their meanings as you go about your daily activities. Say the words aloud until they become automatic in your mind. If possible you can do this at work, in the car, and any other place you inhabit. Another method is to carry vocabulary cards to use when you have a few moments to spare. These cards have English on one side and translation on the reverse so you can memorize words at any time. These kinds of things are simple and can be handmade by you, using card stock or even plain paper.
Probably the most popular and effective technique is to use vocabulary CDs. You can play these in the car, around the house, even on your MP3 player so that you have vocabulary learning going on whether you are driving, doing dishes, or taking your daily walk. CDs can be stopped and started, repeated and replayed, and hundreds of words are available to you. They are good for self-testing and reviewing, and they are convenient for almost all situations. The most significant advantage to CDs is that you can hear the correct pronunciation; when you repeat the word you are hearing, you get to focus on the sounds as well as the meaning.
It doesn’t matter which language you decide to learn, just remember to incorporate vocabulary building into your daily routine. The other parts of language learning will fall into place faster if you have lots of words available to you.