Tips for Learning New Vocabulary Words

A 5 Step Method to Learn New Vocabulary Words


Whether you are interested in a new language, trying to enhance your vocabulary or learning words for a class, the memorization techniques for learning new vocabulary words is the same. True learning requires an understanding of the definition, not just straight memorization. Additionally, it requires some repetition and constant review.  Following are five easy steps to help you learn new words and remember them for life, not just for the next quiz.

Step 1: Start Early
The first step in learning new vocabulary words is to start early.  For instance, if a test is coming up soon, do not wait until the night before to learn the words. Studying in smaller chunks makes learning easier. In addition, by starting early, there are more opportunities to review the words.  Since reviewing often is the best way to commit to memory, it is important to have several days to review.  Additionally, students who prepare and study early have more confidence during examinations.

Step 2: Learn Definitions
After receiving a list of words, find out what they mean.  In addition, it is a good idea to learn how to pronounce words properly.  Many sources online have pronunciation guides and provide definitions for words.  Try to find the words used in a sentences and then create some of your own original sentences. Generally, it works best to imagine using the words before trying to commit to memory.  Finally, create a short definition and write it next to the word.

Step 3: Writing
Repetition in writing is an excellent way to commit something to memory.  Many students find it very helpful to write out vocabulary words along with their definitions -five times each. This works best with one word at a time.  It may seem tedious, but the act of thinking about the word and the definition, followed by writing it down several times aids the memory process.  However, it is important not to cheat or skip this step.  Additionally, do not type, but instead, write the sentence out longhand.  Try using a chalkboard or white board to avoid wasting paper.

Step 4: Flash Cards
Flash cards are an excellent way to commit something to memory.  Flashcards allow students to study alone, without easily seeing the answer.  Write the word on one side of the card and the definition on the other. However, it may be easiest to start by reading the definition side of the card to see if you remember the vocabulary word.  In addition, saying it aloud will help, because it allows you to hear the answer as well.  However, if this process becomes too easy, try flipping the cards over and reciting the definition only after viewing the word.

Step 5: Quizzing
When the flash cards are easy, it is time to find another way to test your knowledge. If you have a family member or friend who is willing to help, ask them to quiz you.  However, do not use the same flash cards. Instead, give them the original list of words with definitions and ask them to call out words in random order.  This ensures that you cannot only recall the definitions by seeing the words, but also hearing them and is critical for doing well on an exam.

The best way to learn vocabulary words is to hear them, see them, write them, and say them aloud. This process engages all of the different methods of learning and forces memorization.  Do not be surprised if you find these study tips work so well that the words remain committed to memory long after the exam is over.