Vocabulary- how to learn new words

Posted on Sep 22, 2010

Always learn new vocabulary in a relevant context

I strongly believe that the best way is by learning words in a context. If you simply learn words by reading a vocabulary list, you will probably forget most of them in the following three days. Instead, I suggest you learn new vocabulary through reading and translation of texts and articles or, if possible, through listening to native speakers and asking them for an explanation or a translation.

Learn it using Post-Its

This method works mostly for learning vocabulary of the concrete things and items you can see around you and touch.

  • Decide which words or phrases you want to learn.
  • Write each one on a post-it, if possible with a picture or a symbol (This uses both sides of the brain, and makes the most of your linguistic grey matter).
  • Stick your post its around your home – anywhere is fine, as long as you will see your words regularly.
  • Even better, stick it to the actual thing you want to remember how to say in your target language.
  • If we are talking mainly about things-nouns, in many languages these will have a gender. Colours can help with this – why not use blue post-its for masculine nouns, and green for feminine?
  • Every time you come across one of your notes, simply say the word out loud.
  • When you think there is a word you have learned and remember, remove the notes (and save them all. It will be nice to see how many new words you have learned already..)
  • This way you will see less and less notes around you, which to you will mean you know more and more words. It is surprising how effective this effortless memory technique is.