1 Kindle trick to super-charge your vocab

Rob Ashby

Rob Ashby

The Spanish Obsessive

Reading is an important language learning strategy. It’s a great way of gaining exposure to a large volume of input, and is one of the key ways in which we acquire vocabulary.

This short post will show you a simple way to use your Kindle to get more out of your reading.

Step 1: Make sure you read something that you enjoy

Many learners read things that they have already read and enjoyed in English (for example, Harry Potter). They know the plot and characters, so won’t get lost.

I prefer reading books written in Spanish, as I feel something gets lost in the translation from English to Spanish.

The important part is that you are engaged, and not overwhelmed. You should be able to understand 80-90% of what you read.

Step 2: Don’t stop at every word you don’t know

We are reading for enjoyment, rather than primarily to learn Spanish.

Step 3: Highlight words and phrases as you read on Kindle

I like to highlight words which are new to me on my Kindle. I don’t highlight every single word I don’t know, but if there is some vocabulary which has cropped up a couple of times, I will highlight it:

The Kindle will usually give you a translation as well, which is handy.

Instead of highlighting individual words (as I did…), it’s better to highlight the context, or the phrase which it belongs to.

Step 4: Export your highlights from Kindle

These will be sent to your registered email address:

Step 5: Export to CSV

Amazon will send you this vocabulary in pdf or CSV. Choose the CSV download option:

This gives us a handy, copy/paste-able list:


Step 6: Head over to Google Translate

Paste in your words and phrases, and review the translations!


This is where the advantage of highlighting the phrase comes in – this will give you the original context, and as you incorporate this into your active vocabulary, will help you to use this vocabulary correctly.


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