When embarking on the long journey towards fluency in a language, it may be English or any other language for that matter; learners always face obstacles that impede their progression. Our courses in this site focus on building vocabulary with bite-size chunks by focussing on key words (HERE) and allowing students to associate words, phrases, phrasal verbs and expressions with common concepts to facilitate learning. Nevertheless, what this post proposes to do is settle the myth concerning vocabulary that more is always better (Spanish = mejor).
Many students have the intention of memorizing large amounts of information, 50 words or even 100 words per week, in order to build a large vocabulary database and therefore achieve fluency faster. But they then later realise that the struggle to remember the majority of what they try to learn. They seem to get confused due to being overloaded with information and fail to progress as they wish.
What we propose at Intercambioidiomas is, to turn the way of thinking related to vocabulary on its head and do it the other way around. It is not a great idea to try to memorize 20. 30 or 40 words at a time and then try to use them: It is far better to try to remember 3-5 words and phrases, apply them to a context and then try to use them and reuse them. This is because recycling vocabulary frequently allows us to remember it a lot easier a it passes to the long term memory, and also we will be able to recall it with greater ease, as we will have formed a greater relationship with the word if you like and will have more connections in our language web (understanding of how language works).
Other methods for learning vocabulary could be by not trying to remember vocabulary at all before speaking. What learners should do it to try and use language and take notes of the gaps in their knowledge (the words they do not know). This way they can later research them and try to use them the next time they speak. Because of this it is very important to repeat. Repetition is an essential part of language learning. This is why podcasts are so useful as they can be listened to an infinite number of times and used in different ways. Your speaking practice should follow a similar trend and you should repeat questions, conversations, discussion and exercises frequently.
Try these things at home:
- Think in English: every time you cannot remember a word or you want to say something you don´t know how to say. Look it up and then later try to use it.
- During a conversation: do not stop when you do not know a word, write them down and later research them. After, you should try to repeat conversations.
Try our vocabulary learning technique HERE