How can you make sure that your memory is always sharp - even when you're learning important vocabulary?
Here are a few important points that will help you set up your language learning routine. The concept always remains the same: You need to acquire, memorize and review your words until they go in.
Follow The Vocab Flow: Acquire, Memorize, Review
There are three steps that I want to take you through about vocabulary. These steps don't make up a method, but they will teach you how to think about vocabulary.
1) You Can Learn a Language Without Frequent Word Lists
The first step is growing (or acquiring) your vocabulary, and this one is about organization. You need to know where to find the words. Some learners use frequency lists for this, but in reality your new vocabulary is all around you.
It's more helpful to you if you think about which words matter the most to you and what you will want to talk about. For example, in Welsh I learnt the word for "self-employed" really early because a lot of new friends at the Eisteddfod asked me what I do. That is not a word you'll find in frequent word lists, but it's definitely one I need.
2) How to Memorize Vocabulary With Ease
There are lots of methods for memorizing vocabulary. For me, two core steps work best: First of all, I examine my vocab lists and start looking for patterns. Words are made up of different components, and many of those components repeat in language.
My background in having learnt Latin and many other languages comes in very handy here. For example, look out for prefixes, for example I started seeing more words that started in cefn in Welsh, so I looked up the meaning of cefn by itself and started to see a pattern in how all those words connect.
Related Blog Article: What Gets Easier When You Study More Languages?
If you're a German learner, check out this interesting explanation of how the prefixes work and what many of them mean.
If you don't want to observe your words themselves, you can also check out word association and even Memory Palaces. Connect your words to something that is meaningful and vibrant for you - this works with phone numbers and grammar rules too. Pretty much anything. In The Vocab Cookbook, I described some of these methods step-by-step so you can practice memorization immediately.
Here is a free bonus video from my Fluent Language Learners Facebook Group
3) You Can Train Yourself to Remember Vocabulary
No matter how well you memorize a word, your brain might forget it at some point. This isn't a failure - in fact, it's normal.
All language learners recognise that forgetting is part of this learning process. The forgetting curve isn't so easy to control, either. Sometimes a word can stay in your mind for a week or two, just to disappear after another week. This is why good systems work on the spaced repetition system (SRS), meaning you will need to revisit words many times over...but you also get a break in between.
Great online systems that are built on SRS abound, and you will find that most flashcard apps are built on it. My personal system is first based on handwriting and working away from screens. But for the stubborn words, I also add in a Memrise course in which I curate the words to be the most efficient use of my time.
But every now and then, I trail off and just study everything. Make it your own and "do you" -- it's one of my favourite rules!
What's Your Best Vocabulary Learning System?
You don't have to follow every single step and become a slave to my method.
Instead, experiment through finding a style that you can set once and use for ANY language you'll ever want to learn.
I will help you with this in The Vocab Cookbook. The book is exactly what it says on the cover: a "cookbook", full of helpful recipes for you to try out.
And if you have a tip and want to get involved, please share your ideas and vocabulary learning tips in the comments below!