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Short vocabulary is an eternal problem for those who study foreign languages. We at oxbridgemind.co.uk here share proven ways to memorize new words. 

The human brain saves effort (some will call it laziness): if there is a chance to simplify the process somehow, it will definitely take advantage of it. Our cunning 'processor' admits new foreign words to the chamber of long-term memory far from immediately; first, they have to serve their time in a kind of waiting room - in short-term memory. If a new piece of knowledge is not accessed (i.e., used) often enough, it will be forgotten – such is the core of the brain's optimization process. However, if you repeat the memorized word often enough, even at strictly set intervals, you will quickly shove it into long-term memory. What are the secrets of correct memorization of new information?

How memory works 

To put it very simply, human memory is split into two: short-term memory and long-term memory. The information that enters the brain is first stored in short-term memory. Then, over time, depending on the frequency of use, this information becomes imprinted as long-term memory. 

 

There are advertised 'techniques' that claim to make you learn a hundred words an hour or even a thousand words in half a week. That is theoretically doable but actually counterproductive – there is no guarantee that these words will imprint in the long-term memory and quickly fade away. As the saying goes, easy come – easy go. 

Memorization tips that do work 

Practice Rational Repetition

Consequently, you can try this repetition pattern to cement the word in the long-term memory. 

 

  • The first repetition – right after you've learned a new word;

  • Second repetition – 20-30 minutes after the first;

  • The third repetition – a day later; 

  • Fourth repetition – 2-3 weeks later; 

  • Fifth repetition – 2-3 months later;

  • Sixth repetition – 2-3 years later. 

Remember what you deem interesting 

The traditional method to learning new words, tested by generations of schoolchildren, is as follows: foreign words are given in lists by topic, for example, 'Acquaintance,' 'The weather,' 'The Jobs.' These themes are standardized between learning programs, which is not very productive – if the theme is boring, it is much more difficult to find inspiration to learn new words.  

However, it is way more rational to choose the studied words in strict accordance with each student's specific goals and interests. The optimal result, after all, is located at the intersection of helpful and pleasant. So, if you like the good old 'Scrubs' series, it will be much more enjoyable for you to learn words and generate images and concepts related to the medical plot and surroundings. 

Deeply reflect the concepts you learn

The material you've thought about in your head is remembered nine times faster because it is not so much the words and sentences that make up the text imprinted in the memory but the thoughts within them. However, learning how to organize information during memorization properly is not an easy task. 

You can use keywords, diagrams, charts, and tables. The forecasting technique is also effective: after reading a paragraph, try to draw conclusions on your own based on the author's arguments, explain to yourself what you have read, even if it seems obvious. Once the information has been described in your own words, it will be remembered.

Enhance your perception 

To better remember a new word, connect all five external senses you have plus imagination: feel the situation, imagine a picture, try to smell and taste, say the word – or even sing it. For example, as you read about the hospital, imagine how it's working, how it smells in operating rooms and halls, how at times, you can hear the medical machines' beeps. Create a picture in your imagination, try to experience the situation in your head, and grow your vocabulary quickly and steadily. 

Learn different concepts 

The perceptions are easier to reproduce when they have enough connections between each other – the situation. the context in which an event occurs may even be a better trigger than the event itself. 

Our memory is associative. Therefore, try to change the place of learning, for example, learn different topics in different rooms (kitchen, bedroom), on the road (metro, car), and even at work (office, 'negotiation'). Information is associated with the situation, the recollection of which will help to remember the topic's content.

Learn more – but less 

As with eating habits, it is more effective to receive information in parts with short breaks between them. It is better to learn a maximum of 10 objects (words or rule components) in one session. After that, you need to take a 15-minute break. Otherwise, the subsequent training will not be as effective. Learn words in line on the subway – impulse learning is much more effective than continuous learning.

A beginning and an end are what matters  

The information at the beginning and end of a learning session is usually best remembered. Therefore, it is more effective to learn complicated and intractable words at the beginning and the end of a ten-minute session – this is the way for better imprinting into your memory. 

Use mnemonic techniques 

When studying a word, choosing an associative anchor image is helpful. For example, in German, a table is a Tisch, which sounds similar to the dish, and you can imagine a dish standing on a Tisch (table). The image should be bright, understandable, perhaps sometimes even absurd – unexpected associations fix the word well in memory. Effective and loved by many is the technique of memorizing words with the help of cards, when a foreign word is written on one side and its translation on the other.

 

But whatever the method of memorization, alas, no methodology allows you to learn a foreign language overnight. It is a vast and complex job, and it is crucial to choose the best approach to achieve more results with less effort.


Posted by : GoDubai Editorial Team
Viewed 5301 times
Posted on : Wednesday, April 6, 2022  
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