How to Learn New English Words And Remember Them

© 2013 JupiterImages Corporation
© 2013 JupiterImages Corporation

As language students, we are driven to increase our vocabulary in order to express ourselves with more precision.  When we first start learning another language, we are frustrated because of our inability to communicate all of our thoughts and ideas.

Many students will study a list of vocabulary words and forget most of them after a few days or a few weeks.  Why does this happen?  The most common reason is that students studied too many words, too fast, and without sufficient context to anchor the word to their long-term memory.  Indeed, it is important to implement tips to memorize English.  One of the most important factors for successful long term memorization of a vocabulary word is how many times you “encounter” that word.

Generally, the more you encounter a word, the more likely you will remember that word in the future and it will become part of your long-term memory.  Students who write out a vocabulary words multiple times in a row may do a good job at memorizing the word in the short term, but not the long term, because this is not a true and natural encounter of the word.  In other words, the students are mindlessly repeating the word instead of genuinely retrieving that word from their memory.  Students can encounter a given word in two ways:

  1. Using the word:  You can encounter a new word by using it out loud or writing it in a sentence.  In order to use the word, you will have to think about what the word is, and draw that word from your memory.  The first time, it might take you a long time to remember the word.  However, each time you draw that word from your memory and use it, the better you will remember it.  Eventually, using that word will become natural and you will not have to think about it at all.
  2. Noticing the word being used:  You can encounter a new word being used when you hear it or see it in a sentence.  This will give you an opportunity to see how and when that word is used.  This is why it is important to do plenty of reading and listening exercises, especially when you are just learning new words.  The more you hear and see a new word being used, the more you will understand what the word means and how to use it.

One technique that I recommend to all of my students is to carry around a small pocket notebook to write down new words.  This technique worked great for me when I studied Spanish and Arabic.  The idea is to always carry this notebook with you wherever you go.  It is small enough to fit in your pocket so you have no excuse not to have it on you all of the time!  When you want to know what the word is for something you can immediately ask and write it down.  When you are talking to somebody and you want to use that new word you just heard, you can take a quick peek at your notebook and use the word.  That right there is an encounter!  You have now used the word once in the course of a conversation and the context of the conversation will help you remember that word long term.

The idea is that every time you want to use a new word, you will be able to because you will have your notebook there to help.  After a few times, you will no longer need to use the notebook.  The key is to always carry the notebook and write down all of the new words that you want to learn as you encounter them.  By having the notebook to refer to later, you will not deprive yourself of the opportunity to use the word later in a conversation.

What do you think of this technique?  Do you have any other methods that you use to memorize new vocabulary?

Blake Mills is an English language instructor and teaches an Online TOEFL Course through his website TOEFL Scholar.  Join him on Facebook or Twitter and feel free to ask him and language learning question.

Better English for Better Freelance Writing

© 2013 JupiterImages Corporation
© 2013 JupiterImages Corporation

Working from home as a freelance writer can increase income and provide you with the family time you want. However, writing from home for a client requires more than having basic knowledge of grammar and good spelling. Developing your skills can be greatly beneficial for creating a stable income of work in order to keep your bills paid. How important is it to further develop your skills as a writer?

1. Increased Number of Clients

While your skills may attract a client to use your services, continued growth of your talents can help keep them satisfied with your work. Although you may receive a great deal of practice with each article you write, it doesn't hurt to expand your knowledge in order to attract more opportunities from the same clients or others. The more active you are writing from home, the more money you make to pay your bills.

2. Presentation

As part of your need to increase the number of clients you have, being able to present yourself well can help solidify their trust in you. Because you may have a profile or website dedicated to your talents, your writing must be clear and concise. Improving your English talents can help you develop your skills for writing your own blog posts or profile entries as well. Freelance writing isn't the only reason that you would want to have a good presentation.

3. Professionalism

Increasing your knowledge of the language does more for you than you may realize. One who is well spoken shows professionalism regarding the content he or she may be writing. Even those who have an extensive background in a particular subject could be viewed poorly if they don't practice good grammar and spelling of content. As a reader, would you trust a blog post from someone you don't know if it was full of grammatical and spelling errors?

4. Future Marketability

There may come a time when your grammatical skills may be required in another career path. Strong writers could find themselves developing content for large corporations for instructional materials, magazines, or a variety of other content that need a strong grasp of the English language. The more practice and knowledge you obtain, the more marketable your skills become for future endeavors.

5. Intelligent Conversation

People are more receptive to someone who speaks well than to someone with broken English. You can enhance even the most mundane conversations with your children as your language skills begin to transfer from writing to speaking. Words you've never used before are promoting themselves in your conversations, and in correct context. Your conversation, in addition to your speaking, improves with proper knowledge. As you continue speaking, you will notice the difference.

There's nothing wrong with being content in your current skill level. However, people should embrace knowledge and aspire to be more than what they are. Contentment doesn't mean that you've given up on what life can offer you, but there is nothing wrong with aspiring to be more. Advancing your skills in English can open doors and enlighten your world far more than you realize. As a freelance writer myself, I can attest to just how much of a real-world impact continued study has made. Don't settle for mediocrity in any of your chosen fields of study.

Ken Myers is the founder of Longhorn Leads and has learned over the years the importance of focusing on what the customer is looking for and literally serving it to them. He doesn’t try to create a need; instead he tries to satisfy the existing demand for information on products and services.

4 Learning Techniques To Help You Memorize English

© 2013 JupiterImages Corporation
© 2013 JupiterImages Corporation

Learning English can be a tough task. Memorizing new words, pronunciation, and sentence structure is a challenge in itself. Yet for some, it involves learning a brand new alphabet.

Your ability to transfer information from your short-term memory to your long-term memory is one of the key factors in shortening the learning curve of a new language. Studies show that over 80% of information that only gets retained in short-term memory is quickly forgotten. On the other hand, when information is repeatedly taken in over a given time span and is ingrained in what we term our long term memory, over 95% of this information will be retained and easily recited correctly.

Having read Kate's post on how to learn English through music, today I'm going to share some of the memory-improvement tips I picked up whilst studying English at the London LAL School, from tutors and other students. Hopefully, you find this information useful as it helps you to achieve your goals with the English language. Feel free to add your own techniques in the comments section of the blog; I will be more than happy to answer any questions, also.

Here are my top four tips for improving your memory when learning English, or any other language.

1. Think In English To Develop The Basics

If you only engage with the language when you are in lessons, or when you are communicating with someone who speaks the language, then the frequency of repeating what you know will be low. Increasing this frequency is key to developing long-term memory.

Trying to think in English will not only help you to recap on the language that you have learned already; it will also help you to focus on the language that is important in everyday life. Most people want to learn a language to be able to communicate on an everyday basis with common people within an English-speaking country.

Focusing on daily tasks and commonly used vocabulary will help you to develop your memory of the most used areas of the English language. Learning more specific terms will become easier once you have developed an in-depth knowledge of the basics.

This tip is especially useful if you are learning English in a non-English-speaking country where you won't have the opportunity to practice your English language skills with native speakers.

2. Reading Is Key

One of the best ways to learn new words is to read. While watching movies with subtitles is a great way to learn pronunciation, the pace of a film makes it difficult to identify individual words that you do not understand. Reading, on the other hand, allows you to learn about the general meaning or perhaps the nuances of a given word in any given context.

When you are reading, it is also easy to keep a learning diary, in which new words that you have learned can be recorded and recapped at a later date.

3. Use Memory Triggers

Post-it notes, scraps of paper or storing words within your mobile phone are all great ways of triggering reminders for words that you are struggling to remember. Post-it notes are especially useful; try sticking the English word for a house-hold item to the item. Once you have used the item a handful of times, the repetition of reading and reciting the post it note will establish the English version of the word in your long term memory.

4. Watch Subtitled Movies To Master Pronunciation

Although watching sub-titled movies is not necessarily the best solution for learning specific meanings of words, there is an opportunity to establish and revise pronunciation outside of lesson time.

While you are watching the movie, be sure to keep a notepad nearby and try to jot down any words and sayings that you do not understand; you can then research these later.

Do you have any special techniques that you think have really helped you to memorize English? Share them with us!

Jamie Ma is currently working for LAL Schools, having graduated from their London school. He enjoys sharing and discussing learning techniques to make learning both easy and fun.

Video Resources to Get Better English Listening Skills

Learn English with English Success

Learning to be a good listener is the first step towards speaking fluently. English learners need to do a lot of listening to improve skills like vocabulary skills and discussion skills. So here is a collection of video resources that will help you to listen better to English speaking and English conversation.

In this video, Carolyn talks about these listening skills: working diligently, asking for repetition, observing body language and reactions, and identify words that you already know.

It is important to recognize common differences between written English and spoken English. Here are 7 listening skills that you need to develop if you are going to understand most native English speakers.

Jennifer and Michael are ready for some big changes. Begin watching this video at 1:25 to practice your listening skills, as you answer questions about a conversation between Jennifer and Michael.

Jeremiah had a crazy weekend in New York City, and Jon's family life is an adventure. Begin watching this video at 1:42 To practice listening to a conversation, as you answer questions about a conversation between Jeremiah and Jon.

In this article and this video, Kate and Holly talk about these listening skills: studying the lyrics, focusing on the pronunciation of words, and watching the accompanying music video.

Practice your English listening skills by watching part of the first episode of the English Fluency Show, which focused on nutrition.

Improve your listening skills with the third episode of the English Fluency Show, which was called "Recreation, Part 1."

Watch an Excerpt from “Recreation, Part 1” of the English Fluency Show


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