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Learning new vocabulary is an essential part of learning a second language; without sufficient vocabulary students will not be able to express their ideas or be able to fully understand others.
Unfortunately, unless you are blessed with a photographic memory memorizing the whole dictionary is not possible, however, there are a number of things you can do which will help you to learn and remember new vocabulary!
1. Try to learn new vocabulary in context – if you learn words out of context it will be much more difficult for you to remember them. Words should be introduced in the context of a story or relating to a particular topic, such as sports, animals, jobs and so on.
2. Using mind maps or vocabulary trees will help you to remember words about different topics.
3. Keep your own personal dictionary – every time you encounter a new word write it in your notebook along with the definition. It is also useful to write down if the word is a noun, a verb, an adjective or an adverb. At the end of every day, revise your new words. At the end of the week, revise all your new words for that week and again at the end of the month. According to recent research a student has to encounter a new word between ten and sixteen time to effectively learn it!
4. When you learn a new word, try to write a sentence with that word in it. This will help you to remember the word in context and ensures that you really understand the meaning. Ideally, ask your English teacher to check your sentences to ensure that you have used the word correctly.
5. Try to use visuals when you are learning new words – Make flashcards with a picture and the word together. Research shows that students are much more likely to remember a word that they can associate with an image!
6. Use a post-it to label physical things around your house, such as your fridge, the door, a chair and so on – seeing these words every day will make it easier for you to remember them.
7. When you are learning new words, it is useful to learn not only the word itself but its collocations – words that are commonly used together, for example: take a shower, heavy rain, completely satisfied, a dog barks, do homework, a bar of soap and so on. Check out some of our previous posts on collocations:
A good online resource to check collocations is: http://oxforddictionary.so8848.com/
8. Read, read, read!!! One of the best ways to learn new words is by reading. When you encounter a new word, don’t look up the meaning straight away – try to guess the meaning of the word from the context. If you are still unsure, look up the word in a dictionary and write it down in your own dictionary.
9. Why not download a vocabulary application for your phone or tablet, such as http://www.vocabulary.com/app/
10. Check out the excellent resources on our Facebook page, our goal is to make learning English fun and easy for you!