Tuesday 15 November 2011

Study - Vocabulary

How do you study vocabulary?  Do you scribble a note on a piece of paper and never look at it again?  Do you keep vocabulary cards? Do you look at your vocabulary frequently?  Do you prefer to do a little bit of English every day or a lot in one day? 

Scientific studies show that to truly remember a word or expression, we need to see it in use between 10 and 20 times.  Therefore, it seems sensible to review as much vocabulary as possible as frequently as possible.  Here are some ideas to help you do that:

1.  Recording vocabulary:
  • Write an example of how it is used
  • use colours to help you remember
  • note different forms of the word, e.g. noun, adjective, verb, negative/positive, opposite, etc.
  • highlight any special features of form - for example, if a preposition follows the word e.g. proud of)
  • translation - be careful with translation.  Sometimes it doesn't have the same meaning or use.

2. Review frequently.
  • After class, rewrite your vocabulary using one of the methods above or create flashcards.
  • Carry your vocabulary notebook/flaschards with you.  Read it while you're travelling, waiting to see the dentist or the doctors, etc.  Any time you have a few minutes give yourself a mini test.
  • Find a study partner and test each other

    3.  Most of us have brains that get tired after too much processing.  When learning new language, studies show that most people remember between 7 and 15 words and expressions in one study session.  So, maybe it's better to study little and often instead of trying to do 4 hours on a Sunday!  Try studying 30 minutes to 1 hour of English every day instead of doing it all in one long afternoon.

    4.  Try not to learn individual words. Try to learn small phrases - this will help you to use the language correctly too.

    5.  There are always some words and expressions that are more difficult to remember than others.  Write the words on post-its and stick them on the walls and cupboards at home.  By seeing them frequently, it could help you to remember them more easily.

    6.  Instead of creating boring lists, create colourful spidergrams.  It is more fun creating colourful pictures than writing long lists - this might help you remember!

    Finally, the most important thing to remember is that learning a language is not the same as other subjects.  It is not possible to memorise a whole language.  For most people, the best way to study any language is to study for a short time every day - little and often.  This way, you have frequent contact with the language, have an opportunity to review vocabulary and grammar, and you won't get tired and bored!

    See you next week!

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