How to learn new vocabulary


I often hear complaints from students that they cannot remember the new words. They diligently copy out the new words into their vocabulary notebooks, translate them, repeat the translation and the new words several times but all in vain – they can’t recall the meaning or translation of the new words the following day!

Does this sound familiar?

If yes, then this article is for you.

1)      Understand the new word

If you want to learn a new word, first you need to understand it. Sometimes a word could be very straightforward (straightforward=easy to understand). For example, to increase = to go up. Then it is often enough to translate it into your mother tongue (straightforward = простой).

So, translate it into your mother tongue and make sure you pronounce it correctly.


2)      Check how the word is used in a sentence  

When you are looking up the new word in a dictionary pay attention to how it is used in a sentence i.e. does it require a preposition? What prepositions can/should it be used with? E.g. to influence (influence= to affect or change how someone or something developsbehaves, or thinks= влиять).

When you are learning the word ‘influence’ you look at the example sentences to understand how it is used in a sentence e.g. She's very good at making friends and influencing people. In this sentence you notice that the word ‘influence’ is used with ‘people’ without a preposition. So, it is used without a preposition i.e. influence somebody/something. You look at some more examples and understand that it is used without a preposition in other sentences too. 

Some people believe your biorhythms can influence your moods and behavior.

A good on-line English-English dictionary to check the meaning of a new word and check examples is    


3)      Сheck a few more examples to make sure you understand how to use it correctly.

What influenced you to choose a career in nursing?

She had her own style and was not influenced by fashion.

People’s voting habbits are influenced by political, social and economic factors.

The government’s campaign is aimed at influencing public opinion. 


Another good recourse that will give you a few sentences with the word you need is which will also give you a translation into Russian.


4)      Practice using the new word in your own sentences.

After you’ve checked a few examples and understood how to use the new word in a sentence, make your own sentences with the new word to practice it. This is a very important step because if you want to use the new word in your writing or in your speaking, then you should practice it. Write a few sentences to remember it better. Say a few sentences to learn to use it in your speaking. Some students try learning new words by making up their sentences in their heads, silently. And guess what? When it comes to writing or speaking they are the ones who say to themselves ‘I knew this word! I knew it! I learn it! But I can’t remember it now. ’ Please remember – if you want your written language become richer, then make it a habit to use a new word in your writing. If you want your speaking to become better, use new words when you speak. And practice, practice, practice.


5)      Use poist-it-notes effectively

I also know that some students use post-it-notes(yellow/pink/blue sticky notes) to learn words. It is especially effective if you are a visual learner i.e. you remember information better through images, colours, any visual clues.

However, I would not recommend you to write a lot of text on your post-its. Your post-it-notes should help you remember your words, therefore, use colour pens, write in BIG letters and ONLY write the new words on it. You can write the translation on the back side with the example. Your flashcards should be catchy and readable.


6)      Use several 5 min periods to revise the words during the day

And revise the new words again and again. It is not effective if you only learn the words once a day in the evening. You can revise them whilst you are having your coffee in the morning (5 min), then on the way to school (5 min), then during the lunch break (5 min), on the way back home (5 min), whilst you are having a cuppa tea in the evening (5 min) and then in the evening when you do your English (10 min). This is a more effective approach than trying to learn the words at once because the more you revise, the longer you remember.


7)      Learn fewer words but learn them well.

And the last but not the least, do not try to learn 30 words a day. Honestly, if you are not a genius, it is highly unlikely that you will be able to remember that many words at a time. Instead, take a manageable number but do it every day. For instance, you could start learning 5 words a day. Only 5 new words a day, but every day. It’s better to learn fewer words by heart then fail to learn 30. 5 words a day will amount to 150 words a month which is a pretty good number, isn’t it?


I hope these strategies will help you learn words more effectively.    


Related items

comments powered by HyperComments