Remembering new vocabulary when learning English can be tricky. When studying any new language we come across new words all the time and it can seem like an impossible task to remember them all. Here at The Language Corner, we’ve made a simple list of tips to help you with this daunting challenge. Remember, at our language academies in Madrid, our native teachers are always willing to help you. So, let’s have a look at some of the best ways to retain that new vocabulary you have learnt.
- Visualise what a word or phrase looks like to you. This works especially well for those pesky idioms. While they can’t be translated literally a lot of the time, they often conjure up an image in your mind which can make remembering them a hell of a lot easier. If you are artistically inclined you can draw or sketch something to help you recall a new word or phrase. If not, you can usually rely on google images to turn up something similar. Here’s an example. “To race against the clock.” It means your trying to do something before a certain deadline. Usually a pressured situation where it is really important.
- Put new words into a context that is relevant to you. When we learn new words and expressions if we can’t relate them to our own lives, we have little hope in remembering them at a later date. We need to associate the words we want to remember with something that is important to us. So for example, if you like music and you want to remember the word “soothing” you could say “I find instrumental music very soothing”
- Write it down. Keep a notebook for new vocabulary and write down the things you want to remember in a sentence so you can remember the meaning easily. It’s important to go back and look over this from time to time to refresh your memory.
- Learn it in chunks. Trying to memorise stand-alone words is pointless, not only do we need context to make sense of it but it also is of great benefit to learn a group of words that go together. THese can be verb/noun collocations or just expressions that are almost always followed by a certain structure or word. This technique comes in very handy when learning phrasal verbs. Take for example the phrasal verb “make up” On its own, it’s difficult to remember it means to invent, but if you always think about making up a story you can instantly recall the meaning.
- Repetition. Repetition. Repetition. It seems obvious but the more you repeat something, the easier it will be to remember it at a later stage. The trick with this, however, is not to repeat ad nauseam the day you discover a new word but to actively try in incremental stages to recall it. This means an hour or so after learning it, trying to use it in a sentence. Again the next day repeating it in that or another sentence. After that every few days should suffice until it is firmly lodged in your long-term memory.
Hopefully with these tips you’ll start to retain the new vocabulary you’ve been learning in your English classes at The Language Corner. Feel free to stop by our academies in La Elipa and Calle Gandhi for information about our classes.