7 tricks to remembering new vocabulary words

Many students ask me how to learn vocabulary. Of course it's not so easy to remember new words in another language. However, here are some things you can do to make it easier.

1) The first thing may sound obvious—but you have to want to remember. If you are not in a good mood, you feel tired, angry, nervous or upset about something you will not be able to remember new words. Try to feel relaxed and positive about your learning. See it as a challenge and not as a chore.

2) Next, try to find a way to link the word to something you already know. If you think of your brain as a big room with lots of things in it, you need to "hang" the new word on a "hook" inside your head so that you can find it later when you need to use it. Try to make up a funny story using some new words and form a picture in your mind of that story. Or try to think of some sound in your language that the word reminds you of. It doesn't need to be related in meaning to the word you are learning, but it will help you to remember the sound of the word.

3) Another good way to remember vocabulary is to find songs using the new word. When we hear a song, we often remember the words in it well. The melody and rhythm of the song can help us to remember how to say the word.

4) Some people like to learn new vocabulary by writing the word or repeating it many times. Maybe these ways may work for you too. Try to learn in different ways and find out which way is the most effective for you. I have had students who were able to learn words by recording themselves and playing back the word many times to themselves. Of course, many of you have mobile phones which allow us to easily record and play back that recording, so that is very helpful.

5) Utilize phone apps that can help you learn vocabulary, such as Duolingo or Anki, but don't think that an app can solve all your problems, and remove all the hard work. Learning a language requires hard work and you will not get "something for nothing". If you want to center your learning all in one place, utilize Verbling's Words feature, where you or your teacher can add vocabulary words to online flashcards and practice them in a fun way.

6) Remember that you must learn words in meaningful situations. Don't try to learn a word in isolation—always put it in a chunk, a sentence or within context so that you will know how to use it correctly. It's best to practice putting words in sentences, or stories. It can be fun to make up funny sentences, and again this will help you to remember. Playing games with the words can be another effective way to remember new vocabulary.

7) Another thing to be aware of is your learning style—what kind of learner are you? Today we believe that everyone's brain is different. Some people learn by hearing (auditory learners) , some by moving around and doing something (kinesthetic learners), and some people need to learn with a friend or partner (social learners). Try to find out which learning style works best for you and then you won't waste time on a method that is not suited to you. If you are auditory, use songs and recordings. If you learn socially, try studying with another person. That way you will maximize your study time.

All the best in your journey to learn another language!
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