I’m a language learner myself. I’m learning French and improving my Italian. Sometimes I’m extremely motivated, sometimes not, but I promise to write about motivation in learning a language in my next post. This time I’d like to offer my advice on a very sensitive issue of learning new vocabulary, more and more of new wonderful words. Most of my students want to learn new words easily and fast (me too!!!). I’m not sure I could help you with that, however I’ll try to give you some tips on how to enhance your vocabulary of any language you are studying at the moment.
So here are the 7 Effective Ways that Help to Build Your Vocabulary:
1. Listen. Anywhere and anything. Radio news, TV shows, films, cartoons, YouTube videos, songs, pod-casts etc. Let technology help you in this. Take your iPod, iPad or whatever smart gadget you have and expose yourself to the language. If you’re a beginner start with cartoons and children’s stories. Then continue with your favourite songs (find out the lyrics to help you). In this way, not only will you learn to guess the words’ meanings from the context, but you will also learn their pronunciation, grammatical patterns and collocations.
2. Read. Anywhere and anything. Lower level students can read graded readers or short stories for children. You can also read the instructions or descriptions of various products e.g. the label of your shower gel or the ingredients of your favourite English/French/Swedish biscuits (depends on your target language, of course). Read newspapers and magazines, books, brochures anything written in the language you’re studying can help you learn. Online resources are unlimited so just google something you would like to read about. I recommend that you read, listen or watch about something that interests you. In this way you are likely to be more motivated and eager to really learn something new.
3. Practice makes perfect. Finding, translating and understanding the word from the context is not enough in order to be able to say ‘I’ve learnt it!’. That is why you need to practice the new words. You can make some vocabulary cards that you put in your pocket and go through them while waiting in a queue or commuting. You can try to write a story or an email using the new words. Then come back to the same words in 3, 7 and 15 days to revise them. Try to notice the same words the next time you read or listen to something new. (Surprisingly enough (irony) the most common words tend to be repeated everywhere) 🙂
4. Love learning the words and be excited. How many meanings can the word ‘get’ have? What’s the subtle difference between ‘cunning’ and ‘sly’? Isn’t that beautiful? Isn’t that exciting?
5. Organize your vocabulary. Help your brain to memorize and store the new vocabulary items by organizing them well. Group the new words according their family, for example, COLOURS (blue, violet, green, yellow etc.). Learn words together with their synonyms and antonyms, e.g. GREEDY syn. stingy, thrifty opp. generous, altruistic, big-hearted. Learn collocations ‘to take notes‘ , ‘to do business‘, ‘to be short of time‘ etc.
6. You had better buy a notebook for the new words. It’s really a good idea to keep vocabulary notes. First of all, you can track your progress and revise easily. Then, you can draw, underline, highlight, organize vocabulary into groups and clusters, as you may know, visual aids of all kinds help to memorize new information more effectively. I’m kind of a traditional pen and paper type of person, so my favourites are Moleskine notebooks. They shelter my vocabulary lists, agenda, diary and other everyday insights :). There are also plenty of applications for taking and organizing your notes on your computer or Pad. My favourites are Evernote and a SOHO Notes.
7. Associate positive emotions with vocabulary learning and you’ll see how your memory gets boosted and you remember more and more words.Don’t try to learn anything new if you’re tired or upset. The process of learning even if it’s not very easy must be associated with something that makes you feel more confident and happy – you are improving, isn’t it great? 🙂