How to learn vocabulary / sentences in a foreign language
1. Rote-learn vocabulary and key sentences, using a multi-sensory approach:
HAND > write the word
MIND > understand the word / the sentence, what it means, how it translates (literally or not)
EYE > look and take a “mental picture” of what it looks like, of the similarities with your language, of any pattern
EAR > hear what the word / sentence sounds like (use recordings or computer software)
MOUTH > speak, say the word / sentence ALOUD
BODY > if it helps, move at the same time, around the room, throwing a ball, rocking back and forth on your chair, etc
- Vocab: repeat the word without looking at it up to 3-4 times until you know it
- Longer passages: Learn the passage in breath groups, or what can be comfortably stated in one breath. Repeat the breath group until it is firmly in short-term memory, then go on to the next breath group and do the same. When that is done, put groups together and repeat them until you know the complete sentence or passage by heart.
2. Consolidate regularly for long-term retention:
Compose sentences with the words being learnt, or mini stories to use expressions / sentences in a specific context
Get typical examples of the words being learnt from a dictionary, write them down and learn them
Use semantic mapping
Write new words repeatedly, using coding colours / coloured card, etc.
Read related topical texts to be exposed to topic-specific vocabulary
Search synonyms and antonyms, create word families
Create your own tests to make sure you can use the words correctly after memorizing
Get definitions from a single language dictionary
Use a combination of sounds and images (create illustrated vocab lists, and have them recorded by a native speaker)
Make vocabulary cards of important, complex words / expressions
Grouping words being learnt into categories.
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