Let’s be honest… one of the most difficult things when you study a foreign language is to learn new words: there so many to memorize, but not enough time or enough memory! In this video, I’ll show you some strategies you can use to increase your vocabulary in a foreign language!
Here they are 8 strategies to learn as many words as possible (and retain them!)
1 – DEFINE YOUR GOALS
As for everything else, if you want to widen your vocabulary, it’s important to have a good strategy.
To begin with, try to focus on some specific topics. For example: are you studying Italian for work-related reasons? In that case, focus on the words that you think that might help you in your job. Are you studying Italian for fun? Then, start studying those words that are related to your hobbies!
2 – READ AND LISTEN
Once you found your goal, focus your attention on it and try to find all the materials that are related to the topics you chose: magazines, articles, YouTube channels, tv series, films, you name it!
Another great method to widen your vocabulary is to exploit social networks. Something I always suggest to my students is to follow some Instagram and Facebook profiles that might be interesting for them.
Personally, I follow many English-language profiles related to make-up, fashion and cooking – my favorite topics – to improve my English.
Famous people, in fact, use social networks a lot, so they write posts, they upload videos and stories: this is a great exercise for you to read and listen to the everyday language!
So, if you haven’t done it yet, follow us!
3 – USE FLASHCARDS
While you read or listen to something, write the words you don’t know on a piece of paper or on the notes of your phone.
As soon as you have time or come back home, check their meaning on the dictionary and create some flashcards with the word to learn and its meaning or equivalent in your language.
There are many app that let you do this, but if you’re a creative persone you can do it on your own!
4 – MAKE SENTENCES WITH THE WORDS
Besides the flashcards, another great method is to create sentences with the words you’re learning.
When you have to learn a words, try to create simple sentences with it. Not random sentences, but try to think to sentences you might really need during a conversation!
You could write them down and re-read them while you’re in line at the supermarket or on the train to go to work or during the advertising in the middle of your favorite tv show!
Or, you could record yourself while reading these sentences and listen to this recording again and again.
You can choose the system you want, according to your memory: is your visual memory stronger than your audio memory or viceversa? Find it out!
5 – PLAY WITH THE WORDS
When you have to learn new words, try to play with them! Open them, analyze them, chop them, dismember them! Try to think to possible associations and links that might help you remember them more easily!
For example, when I was studying English, I always confused the verbs “borrow” and “lend”. So I found a system that really helped me: “lend” ends with D, like its Italian meaning starts with D (dare in prestito). As a consequence, the other one is “prendere in prestito”.
This is just an idea… associations and links are, of course, something personal and you can let your imagination run!
6 – A LITTLE BUT OFTEN
Don’t learn too many words in one single day! Try to make a plan to learn few words, but on a frequent basis.
Maybe from 5 to 20 words a day: without stress, calmly!
Try to spend a little time every day rather than doing hard challenges in one day!
7 – LONG LIVE THE CURIOSITY
Be curious! Although I said as a first thing that you have to define your goals, this must not kill your curiosity!
While you’re going out, while you’re working, while you’re taking your shower, look around and ask yourself: how is this called in the language I am studying? If you don’t know, check it! If you now, review it!
That’s a great way to widen your everyday vocabulary!
8 – USE IT OR LOSE IT
All the vocabulary you learn must be used! Otherwise, you’ll lose it after a few days! And now you might as me: how can I do that?
There are many ways!
You can travel or move for a while to the country you’re learning the language of! This is without definitely the best way to be in touch with the real language people speak every day!
But if you can’t, there are other means, such as apps that let you speak with foreign people and make linguistic exchanges!
Or you can have Skype lessons with native speakers, follow courses, attend cultural groups in your city, find colleagues that are learning the same language!
If all these alternatives are impossible for you, you can use the words you learn with yourself: write stories and dialogues to read to yourself in front of a mirror!
I hope these tips will help you!
Before you go, let me know: Do you know other ways to widen the vocabulary in a foreign language? Which ones are you using?
Let me know in the comments!
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