Independent Learning Strategies – Vocabulary

A common question many of you have is related to the best way to remember all of the new words, phrases and expressions that you`re coming across. I think that the most important thing that you can do, in fact the essential thing to do, is to regularly review new words and phrases. I would suggest that the most useful piece of kit you can have is a small notebook you can take everywhere and anywhere, not only to write down new vocabulary but also so that you can open it wherever you are whenever you have a few spare moments just to review a few words and phrases. Small but regular blocks of revision are much more productive than long but irregular ones.  These strategies can help you to build your vocabulary and, importantly, to remember and also use it.

  • Whenever you read in English make a note of 4 or 5 new words each time. Choose words that you like/think are useful/expressive etc.
  • Keep a small notebook, small enough to take everywhere, specifically for this purpose. Note the new words down. Include:
  1. A translation
  2. The part of speech, noun/verb/adjective etc.
  3. Any irregularities, irregular verbs/unusual plurals etc.
  4. Note number of syllables and the stressed syllables eg. Chocolate
  • Write a very short story that captures the sense and the meaning of the word, not just `I like chocolate`!
  • A few times a day, just for 5 minutes or so, take out your notebook and review the words, mentally check that you remember the words and how they are used. This is absolutely key to retaining new vocabulary in your memory.
  • When writing or speaking make an extra effort to include these new words where possible.
  • Finally, pay attention when reading or listening, notice these words and how they are used (meaning) and how they are said (pronunciation).

You may also find these past blog posts useful, in them I have included some links to more detailed suggestions for ways to improve remembering new vocabulary. 

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