Who has time to study a list of thousands of words!
How big is your list of words that you ‘should’ be studying regularly? Does it have 500, 600 or even 1000 words?
It is easy to build vocabulary list very quickly, but it can be difficult to find the time to study them as often as you need to remember them. Let’s talk about the best way to get better at vocabulary building, and this is to stop reviewing ‘old’ vocabulary in your list.
Context is the Key to Quick Vocabulary Building
It is much easier to understand the meaning of a word when you see it or hear it being used in real life, in context. You can understand what the word means because of the situation it is being used in.
For this reason, I always recommend that you study interesting videos, articles, books or audio tracks so that you can connect the new word to the situation where you first seen it. If possible, use the original sentence where you saw the word being used as an example sentence with the new word. This process helps you connect an ‘unknown’ word to an idea that you remember where the word is being used.
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Faster Vocabulary Building
In my experience, it is easier to remember new words when I review them for the first time within 1 day of learning them. When I review the new words 2 or 3 times within 1 week, I usually know them well enough to feel I have learned them successfully.
15 minutes per week should be all the time you need to spend studying to remember the words that are really going to stick in your mind long-term. The key, is to see or hear the words 3 or 4 times within that first week.
The best way to review the new words and successfully do vocabulary building is to watch the video or read the article again where you originally seen the new words. You are getting a review of context and seeing the words at the same time.
If a word is used often, you will see it shortly after learning it. Therefore, if you forget a new word, it is probably not used very often. Why should you try to remember a word you are never going to use? The idea of vocabulary building is to find words that will be used often.
Also, once you have learned new words (after reviewing them for a week or so), you will probably recognize it if you hear it in audio or see it in writing for several weeks. At this point, you will either remember it when you need it for speaking or you won’t. Keep studying and exposing yourself to the language, to have the best chance of hearing, reading or experiencing the language and vocabulary as much as possible.
When Your Brain is Ready, You will Remember it.
Sometimes you find words that are difficult to remember because you haven’t learned other words that are similar to it. As your English vocabulary grows, it will become easier to remember more advanced vocabulary and strange words because you will be able to connect them to other words that seem similar in English.
If you can’t remember a word, no matter how hard you try… Stop studying it. You are not ready to learn that new word or phrase yet. If it is an important phrase or word, you will see it used often and it will become more familiar each time.
Leave a comment below if you have been studying ‘old words’ and you see the importance of using your study time to find new words instead!
If you are looking for a flash card app to use, I recommend using this one: Brainscape. You can read post here about how to use flashcards to learn words faster.