With the London Olympics 2012 well underway, we invite you to imagine yourself standing on an imaginary podium, a gold medal for vocabulary building draped around your neck. Sure, vocabulary building isn’t an Olympic sport (yet!) but that doesn’t mean you can’t benefit by thinking of yourself as an athlete in training. And as any Olympian will tell you, showing up to for practice is step number one in going for the gold.

Step number two? Working with the right coach. Back in 1993, a study showed that in learning any skill, regular practice alone is not enough. You need to pinpoint what's hard for you and focus on that troubling area if you expect to improve in a meaningful way. (See more about this idea here.) A good coach will help you find this focus; the Vocabulary.com Challenge can do that for you as well.

As opposed to flash cards, which repeat questions on words in a random order whether you need help with them or not, the Challenge tailors a learning experience that’s just right for you. From the first few questions you answer, the game builds a model of what you know and what you’re ready to learn. Then it continues to adjust the pacing and difficulty of the questions you’re seeing based on how you’re performing. This capacity for individualized attention allows the game to push you to work a little harder and in more effective ways. It’s also the reason the Challenge is fun; you’re never bored by answering questions that are too easy or too hard.

So congratulations again on choosing to play. And, um... whenever you're ready to climb down from that imaginary podium, your next question awaits.

Summer is the season of play, and we're celebrating it on the Vocabulary.com Blog. Be sure to check out other gaming-related blog posts: New Games, Just in Time for SummerTour de Vocabulary: On Competition and PlayWord Learning for Word-o-phobes, Do You Have an SAT Prep Personality? and  What's Fun About Failure? on how failing in a game might be what makes it fun.