Rees, English Teacher/Teacher Trainer, ELT materials writer
Remembering and learning vocabulary
Remembering new vocabulary involves storing it in your long term
memory. This is best achieved by doing things with the words, organising
the words and by making links to other words or memory prompts such
as colours. This is where you draw on your knowledge of your learning
style. Don't just repeat words endlessly.
- Here are some activity
Make connections between new words - which have similar sounds?
Do any belong to a themed word family e.g. jobs, the outdoors
Write personalised sentences using the new words, something that
is relevant to your life
Write short stories or paragraphs connecting the words and expressions
that you want to learn
Look out for the words and expressions you are trying to learn
when you are reading or listening to English
Make vocabulary cards, each holding a word or phrase, with a definition
and something to help you remember the word - a picture, a colour,
a movement? Or, keep the words you want to learn in a small notebook
with an example sentence. You can then take it with you wherever
you go and when you have a few minutes (whilst waiting for a bus),
Draw simple pictures to represent the words
Mime the word, as in the game of charades.
- Fight memory decay
Make sure that you keep revisiting vocabulary you have spent time
learning. If you don't use it, you'll
lose it! I always advise my students to look at their class notes
again that evening and do some work to fix them into long term memory.
Then to look again at the notes a week later, and use the vocabulary
in some way, and to look again at the notes a month later.
- How do you keep a record of vocabulary?
Really, a simple word list is not very useful. Think of a new way
to organise your vocabulary. I suggest a system which is really
flexible, a loose leaf file is best, perhaps an A5 size one.
This allows you to organise the vocabulary in different ways -
by topic, by alphabetical order, by sound, by book unit, by week
- and it gives you flexibility, you can change things as you wish.
For example, on one page the words may be in a list, on another
you can have the same words as a spider diagram. Or, a word may
appear on its topic page, and also on a page of words that all use
the same dependent preposition...