“5 Ways” Learning Tips

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Want to increase your English vocabulary – FAST?

Then maybe it’s a good idea to learn from successful learners…

Here are 5 learning tips from polyglots, language learning experts. Polyglots are people who can speak at multiple  languages fluently. (Some famous polyglots can speak up to 30 different languages.) They are masters at language learning — and they can teach us some useful study habits and strategies.

Here are 5 techniques polygots use to memorize new vocabulary words in a foreign language:

1. Learn vocab words in context

Many language learners try to memorize huge lists of individual words. Not a great idea! Actually,  learning an isolated word without context is just waste of time and effort. It will not work. You’ll forget it in one day.  The idea here is quite simple: we speak with phrases not with words. If you learn a word by itself you will have trouble using it and will probably take long breaks between words thinking about what to say next making you sound very unnatural. Here’s an example of how to study a new word. Let’s say for you are French and are trying to learn the English word: taciturn. Here’s how to approach learning the word:

Lingual Net English language learning

2. Learn only the words you need

Learn only the words you need currently or will need soon. Start with words in your environment (things you see) and your interest areas and professional arena (ideas you work with). Since these are words you need, you are likely to use them regularly.   That of course will help you remember and retain them. Most people start learning a new language by learning words they won’t usually use like elephant or monkey. That can be fun, but it’s hard to create a “snowball effect” (where the words stick together and you build the size of the “ball”.) You have to figure out what are the most important and relevant words for you to learn now and only learn those words. Words like “stigmatize” or “elucidate” can wait for later. (And they’ll be easier to learn later when you need them!)

3. Write words down by hand

Writing anything down makes us remember it better. Why?  Well, writing is a physical activity – you move your hand, your arm, your upper body, your eyes and head.  This physical activities improves that encoding process.  (“Encoding” is the first stage of active memory.  If you don’t encode well, you’ll never remember something!)

So…. when you write something down it has a much greater chance of being remembered. (Of course, “encode” very consciously – slowly and deliberately!)  You will remember what the word looks like and when you write a word down, you repeat it in your head once again making it stick better.

You can also make gestures to help you remember the words.  This gives you a stronger “encoding effect.”

4. Say a word out loud

La-la-la-la-LA!  In order to remember anything you have read, heard or done, repeat it out loud. Slowly, loudly, with an exaggerated intonation.  That’s right.  Say it out loud, even if you’re alone.  Saying something aloud creates “muscle memory”.  Muscle memory in this case means:  you’ll remember with your face muscles, lips, tongue.   Facial muscle memory – that’s the idea here!

5. Make connections

One of the most effective ways to learn new vocabulary is by connecting new words to the ones you already know. (*You can do this using your native language, but it’s more powerful if you can do it with the target language – English!)  Try to make connections. Making as many associations to a word as possible will help you to access the word at a later time from your memory. You will effectively recall it much faster and easier.

How to do this?  Listen to the word carefully. Does it sound like a word you already know? For example, if you’re trying to remember the English word “unlimited” you might make a connection with the Spanish word “ilimitado“, which sounds similar and happens to mean the same thing.

If not, split the word into parts and see if you can associate separate parts to a word that you already know. For example, if you’re trying to memorize the word “abrogate”, which means to cancel something (like “abrogate an agreement”), you can separate the word into the parts “a – bro – gate”. You could imagine a guy (a bro) standing at the gate of your house, while you’re not letting him in – canceling his right to enter.

If you are more of a visual person, what could draw an actual or mental image that reminds you of that word. Like in the previous example, we’ve separated a word into parts that make sense and we’ve also made up an image about the actual meaning of the word. So you would draw a sketch of a guy standing at a gate with a big “X” (can’t do it) over the gate.


OK, test yourself.  Can you say the 5 principles – without looking?

Lingual Net English language learning

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