How to learn new vocabulary – and remember it!

rememberA piece of advice language teachers often give their students is ‘learn three new words every day‘. This is a great idea but only if you can actually remember the words and make them part of your active vocabulary. Here’s a simple tip on remembering new vocabulary so you will actually be able to use it when you speak.

Step 1: Find the new words that you want to remember. I find the best way to find new words in another language is reading the news but maybe you have another way you prefer. If the vocabulary is not in context already, type each word or phrase into your favourite search engine and have a look at some of the real-life examples of it in context that come up.

Step 2: Write the new words or expressions on a small piece of card or a memo on your cellphone / PDA so that you can keep them with you throughout the day.

Step 3: Keep the words with you for the whole day and whenever you have some free time, make three sentences with each of the words. This helps to put them in your active vocabulary so are able to use them fluently when you speak.

By the end of the day, you should be able to remember the words or expressions and won’t forget them for a long time. I find this method works best starting early in the day and finding the new words before work so I have the whole day to make sentences with them whenever I have a few minutes spare. It only takes a few minutes in the morning to find the new words and write them down so even if you’re not an early-riser, it’s still fairly easy to find the time.

Which words are on your list for today?

This is the third installment of my new ‘Tuesday Tips‘ series. Every Tuesday, I try to share a simple tip on how to improve your language skills. Some of these are techniques I use with students in class and others are things I’ve found work well when learning languages myself. If you decide to try them out, let me know how they went by leaving a comment below the article. Click here to see some more tips on how to improve your English.

Today’s image is by Bartek Ambrozik.