You can hardly become fluent without knowing any words in your target language. So, acquiring new vocabulary is a necessary (albeit somewhat annoying) step every language learner must take. From the words lists everyone was forced to learn at their school’s foreign language lessons to several new apps developed just for that reason, there are different ways of tackling this problem. One thing remains constant, however, and that is that you will still need sheer memory power to burn all those new words to your skull.
Luckily, there are also ways on how to get better at memorising new vocabulary and that is what this guide is all about.
Set Goals and Priorities
It is said that it takes less than 150 words to get by in a language, and while that is obviously far from fluent, it does provide a lot to be happy about. With such a limited vocabulary required to make yourself understood, you are free to set your own goals when it comes to addressing everything else.
Depending on why you’re learning the language in the first place, focus on the most important words first. That way you’ll see quick progress with being able to get your point across (which will hopefully serve to keep you motivated to learn more). Additionally, according to the 80/20 rule, you’ll manage 80% of your goal with 20% of your effort which really demonstrates how easy learning vocabulary can be if you get your priorities right.
Take Care of Yourself
One of the easiest ways to increase the number of new words you can learn is to simply improve your overall memory capacity. Although there are some aspects to that that are beyond your control, there are definitely steps you can take to improve your memory – most of which come down to a healthy lifestyle. Stress and bad nutrition have been long proven to be some of the worst enemies for a language learner, while regular exercise and healthy eating are known to help your memory.
So, in order to progress quickly, keep up the daily jog and vitamin D supplements and get a good night’s sleep.
Incorporate Learning New Vocabulary into Your Daily Schedule
The best way to learn new vocabulary is simply taking bite size pieces and repeating what you’ve previously learned over and over again. It might not sound pleasant or inviting, but that is really what acquiring new words comes down to.
So, to make the process easier on yourself, a great way is to incorporate learning new vocabulary in your daily schedule. The best option for doing that is to download one of the many apps designated to gamify learning new words. You can find a comprehensive list of the ones available for iOS and Android. Just find one that works for you, keep it in your pocket and learn a few new words whenever you get the chance.
Focus on What You’re Learning
The short bursts of learning also help you to keep your mind focussed on what you’re doing. It’s hard to overestimate the importance of keeping your brain tuned into the present while you’re trying to memorise new words. Keeping the study sessions is a great way to ensure your mind will not drift. And when you feel that everyday thoughts are harassing you more and more, simply stop the session for that time and pick it up again when you’re more relaxed.
Learn in Context
The main problem with word lists is that they provide very little context for what you’re trying to learn. We, as humans, are more programmed to grasp an idea when it’s placed in a convenient setting to fill out the larger picture. So, learning words in context is a great way to increase how much information your brain will retain.
Naturally, the easiest way to find words in a proper context is reading various newspapers, magazines, or literature. This becomes especially beneficial if you start reading material about your own interests or issues you like to talk about – the more involved you are with the material you’re learning, the easier it becomes to memorise new words.
Another idea you might want to try is dividing the vocabulary by themes. That way, you can focus on learning words about hobbies and interests on one week, household appliances the next, and office work-themed vocabulary on the third week. This all helps to keep the attention on the same themed context which should really improve the number of words you can retain.
Conclusion – Right Priorities, Short Bursts, and Context Help to Remember Vocabulary
Although learning new vocabulary can be an annoying task, it is a necessary one. Thankfully, there are ways to make that process easier for yourself. Trying one of the popular vocabulary learning apps is definitely a step in the right direction, as are keeping your word-learning sessions short to retain your focus and building context around what you’re learning. And don’t forget to take care of yourself to keep your brain top fit and ready to absorb new vocabulary.