The biggest challenge

Posted on June 26, 2010


The biggest challenge when studying vocabulary is to actually remember the words you just learned. Some words seem to stick to your memory immediately, whereas with others you always seem to forget. There are several ways to improve your memory when learning foreign language vocabulary. None is foolproof, and all require some work, but with these tips you will be able to learn more efficiently:

When encountering a new word, you need to make its meaning stick to in your mind.

You can picture your memory as a giant pine tree, with many branches each representing a part of your memory. To remember a new word, you need to hang it on either something existing or something new. It is extremely difficult to remember more than a few new words when they come totally out of nowhere and are not linked to anything else that is already in your memory.

Fortunately, there are many ways to tie a new word to something in your memory like using cognates, but be careful since some of these might be false friends. You might try using the common roots of words which can often be the same in the two languages. If you learn and remember the root and recognize it in some new words, you will better remember them.

One other way to learn vocabulary is to connect words using vivid mental images made up to connect a new word to something you will be able to remember. Using words in context enhances the chance you will remember them, but it is not quite effective (as what?) and might confuse you. This can be as simple as memorizing dialogue from a film or  language program or learning a song and later reading a text where the words are used.You can also be exposed to the word in a memorable context.

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