If you’re here, you’re learning a new language. And whatever your motivation is for learning a new language, you have probably have faced difficulties with learning new words. Some can be just too similar to each other. Some do not make any sense. If you think there is no other way to learn vocabulary than cramming the material, don’t be discouraged! This article will help you find creative ways to remember new vocabulary.
New information is easier to remember if it’s arranged logically. So, if you have a chaotic mixture of new words, try breaking down the content according to:
Several subjects may have overlapping words. In this case, make a separate list for them. That way, you will know at least the basics.
If you have a long list, break it down into manageable groups. Make sure as you work through each group that you’re getting comfortable with the content. Do you feel like you recognize each word whenever you hear it or read it? If not, keep reviewing before moving on to the next group of words.
Make a consistent plan.
For example, on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays you may review vocabulary in one topic, bit by bit. Other days can be spent on something something else.
There is no need to try and learn the same list of words for hours at a time. Short but frequent sessions are less stressful and more efficient.
The Pomodoro technique is a perfect fit for this sort of learning. Set a timer for 25 minutes and try to learn as much as you can. As soon as the time is up, move on with other chores or tasks.
Or, you can try Drops and learn vocabulary in 5-minute sessions each day!
Drawing helps you not only better commit the subject you’re drawing to memory, but also works to distract you from “usual” routine.
If there is a topic that covers interconnected concepts, draw a chart showing the connections. If you can’t remember the difference between 5 types of almost similar vehicles, draw each of them. It doesn't matter if it’s not as good as in the original picture. Even the most basic drawings will do.
The information reproduced by your hand will stick in your memory more easily. More so, you will be able to review your drawings at a later time and to reactivate your knowledge instead of having to read through large chunks of text or unorganized notes.
Trying to recall something you learned? Don’t be too quick to review your notes or look at the text. Use your memory. When you have the patience to try to recall what you’ve learned before looking it up again once more, you may be surprised at just how much information you actually retained.
If the field of study is connected to some specific vocabulary, you’re going to have plenty of similar and complex terminology on your hands. Take legal theory, for instance. It will include Latin and terms that can’t be learned by heart quickly.
You need to understand the connection between a word and the context it fits in. So, learn about the origin of something you need to remember. Watch educational movies about something you struggle to understand.
There are plenty of apps out there that let you create flashcards. This can make your learning process much easier. Yet, many researchers and professors keep emphasizing that writing is better. Motor memory is a powerful tool for storing information for a longer period.
This technique is especially useful for the students who learn Chinese or other languages that include foreign writing systems. You may forget what the symbol name sounds like but be able to draw it without hesitation. And if you need help learning a new writing system, you can always try out Scripts!
The easiest way to train new vocabulary is to record your voice. The goal is to say a word and then pause. The pause should be long enough for you to repeat the word. Just note that it may take time to make the recording if you have a huge list of words to learn.
Studying in the same area may be peaceful. But changing the scenery once in a while has its benefits as well. Take a walk and try to remember the material. If you have an audio recording as suggested above, you can train vocabulary on your way to the grocery store or school. This technique can disrupt your routine in just the right way to root the information in your long-term memory.
When recalling new words or their translation, say them out loud. Talk to fellow students or native speakers.
Learn how to circumlocute. When you’re chatting with native speakers, you may forget a word you need (or may have never learned it to begin with). When this happens in a conversation, rather than asking for a translation, start describing the word in the second language. This is very useful as you may find you often come up with the correct translation yourself.
You can also describe the word to a native speaker or a friend and train your communicative skills. Go to speaking meetups. Each speaker has their own set of active vocabulary, so, in the process, you get the chance to learn new words from one another.
You’ve likely heard about mind palaces. If this technique seems out of reach to you, try easier techniques first. Associating a complex word combination or a notion with something you already know makes the learning process less boring or challenging.
You may come up with a senseless yet catchy verse or song. Create a phrase where the first letter of each word makes up the one you won’t remember. For instance, the very word “mnemonic” has its mnemonic key for spelling: “Memory Needs Every Method Of Nurturing Its Capacity".
Don’t stop if you find some techniques aren’t right for you. Keep at it! If your visual memory is rather good, opt for visual techniques. If you have a creative imagination, use mnemonics. Plan your studying process ahead of time. Try out all techniques to find out which one suits your needs best.
About the Author
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