A big part of second language learning is new vocabulary. You may already have a good database of words stored up mentally or otherwise, but relying on the tried and true is all too easy and to progress, you’ll need a challenge. Never under estimate the power of a thesaurus, where synonyms abound. But what can you do to make sure your new words don’t go in one ear and out the other?
Write it Down
“Oh, I already do that” you say, and I believe you. But HOW are you keeping notes? Are you simply jotting things down here, there, and everywhere in illegible chicken scratch or are do you have words arranged nice and neat and looking sweet? Being organized is key. Do you have a notebook specifically for vocabulary? Are words laid out by category such as verb, noun, adjective? By topic? By day? In what contexts can you use the new word(s)? Create a system that works for you.
Review Times Two
So you’ve written the new vocab down or easier still, stored it on your Smartphone adding to an ever growing list. Great. Now you know some new words right? Time for a little honesty. When was the last time you actually REVIEWED what you’ve written? Take a little time to look back at old notes to refresh your memory. And unless you activate them, all of your notes will just sit there, dead on the page.
Use it or Lose it!
This may be the most important step of all: Finding ways to put your new words to good use. The more you use new vocabulary, the easier it will be to remember it. Write practice sentences, tell someone about that new word or expression you learnt. Use it in conversation as soon as possible. Tricky, but try it.
When studying a foreign language, it’s not enough to just write things down. A little extra effort is needed. When listening to a native speaker and you hear something new, don’t let those moments simply slip by. Make the extra effort to ask what it means, or press pause and google. After all, the more vocabulary you learn, the more you can say. But don’t just take my word for it.