It is expected that leaning new words will happen in stages, but it always begins with no knowledge of a word. Students that have never heard or seen the word  are unable to understand the word even in context. Then, we move on to having a “general sense” of what a word means. Perhaps the student knows enough about the word to understand that it is positive word, but not enough to know exactly what it means. Next, they have enough knowledge of a word to know what it means when read in context, but not if they see it in a different context. A good example of this would be knowing the form of dazzle in the sentence “the stars were dazzling” but not when you see it in the sentence, “he dazzled me with his eyes.” Later, you may have enough knowledge of a word to understand its meaning, but not enough to correctly use it yourself. The final stage is when you have a deep, concrete knowledge of the word. You understand its meaning and can use it in various contexts.

There are also different ways in which we learn new words. For example, we may learn new words based on the context we find them in. We can also break the word into smaller sections to help us determine what the word means; this process is called morphological analysis. For example, in medical terminology, we know that hypoglycemia means not enough sugar in your blood because hypo means below or low, glyc means sugar and the suffix emia means blood. Last, we have the use of lexical resources such as dictionaries or thesauruses to find the meaning of the word.