PS: The program I was thinking of may actually be called SRA: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science_Research_Associates
SRI may be something slightly different.
I agree with all the earlier posts; there is no substitute for reading widely. Also, writing a great deal based on one's reading can also help. I remember, when I was in grade school, that there was a program called something like "SRI." It involved self-paced learning. We would each read through our SRI boxes, which contained cards with stories on them; then we would answer questions about our reading, and then move on to the next level. I loved that program and still remember the pleasure it gave me. I have no idea if that program (or something similar) still exists. I certainly hope so.
Ah! Apparently it still exists: http://teacher.scholastic.com/products/sri_reading_assessment/index.htm
Here is also something from one of the very best sites on the web for anything having to do with reading and writing: http://teacher.scholastic.com/products/sri_reading_assessment/index.htm
There is no question that reading expands vocabulary, especially the reading of quality works. A GED teacher of 20 years noted that repeatedly her new students who read books always scored well on the vocabulary part of the entrance assessment test regardless of the grade at which they had dropped out of school. On the other hand, students who dropped out in 11th grade but did not like to read, consistently scored lower in Vocabulary.
Using a college-sized dictionary rather than going on-line to look up a word is helpful,too, because not only does one learn the new word, but he/she will spot other words on the page that are new and intriguing. Also, working with analogies is an excellent way to increase vocabulary. Taking a French course is, indeed, helpful since 60% of the words in English are derived from French (which is derived from Latin). Of course, taking Latin is helpful!
I agree with all the ideas, and especially with #5. I think this advice also extends further than just reading. Attempting to take on anything above your current skill level is a great way to learn. You may struggle through it, but you will learn a lot along the way.
I have to agree that reading is the most effective way to increase vocabulary. When I was younger, my father encouraged me to read books that were above my current reading level. I found I had to look up many of the words in a dictionary. It really helped increase my vocabulary to read complex words that I had to research. Now, many e-readers have a dictionary included. All you have to do is read and click on the words you don't know to bring up the dictionary. The principle is still the same. Read, read, read and look up anything you don't fully understand.
I agree also that reading is a key to learning new vocabulary words; there's really no better way to learn how to use them in a sentence. Another thing that helps words stick in your memory is repetition and review. You can make up flash cards either by hand or online, carry some and flip thorough them at odd moments, like when you are riding in a vehicle or waiting in line someplace. You can also post words in places where you will see them as you go through your day, such as writing them on a bedroom or bathroom mirror (if you use a marker made for a dry-erase board it will wipe right off), or making a word list into a desktop background or a screensaver for your computer. The more often you see the words, the easier they will be to incorporate into your writing and speaking.
One of my old friends used to literally read the dictionary during his free time. He had one of the most extensive vocabularies of anyone I ever knew, so I know this is one way of expanding yours. I use the Thesaurus regularly, and now that it's online, it's even easier to access. I also agree with the previous post--reading widely will expand your knowledge of new words, and you can always fall back on the dictionary if you don't know their meaning.
There's no quick way to do this. To me, you have to read a lot and read books that use "advanced" vocabulary. The only way to remember vocab is to "use" it over and over in some way. If you read a lot, you will see words over and over and remember them.
For a more short term thing, try writing lots of sentences with each word. That way, too, you are using the word in some context and might remember its definition better than if you do flashcards or something like that.
If you want to actually retain the knowledge for a long time, reading a wide variety of advanced books is the best way to be exposed to good vocabulary. If you are pressed for time or merely want to do well for a quiz, rote memorization is your best option.
Study up on prefixes, suffixes, and root words. Make flashcards on them and study up in your free time. Most words usually have prefixes, suffixes, and root words. So, if you can break up the word into the following categories, you will have a better chance of partially to fully understanding the word.
Read books that can help you in this subject. Read more advanced books or ones that will help you learn new words. Read books from collegeboard that are suggested or even just look up vocabulary words.