How to learn and memorise new vocabulary (EWR Podcast)

Everyone who learns English or other foreign languages understands how important it is to expand and improve vocabulary. If we don’t know English words and phrases, we can’t speak. So how to learn and remember new words and phrases? Let’s talk about it today!

How to learn and remember new vocabulary?

I’ve been learning languages for many years and I’ve experienced the same difficulties that you might have now with your vocabulary. I can imagine how annoying it’s when you want to say something, but can’t remember some words that you just learned recently. It makes you sad, you lose your motivation and some people even give up studying a language. 

Before I share with you my approach to improving vocabulary, I want to notice that learning a language is not a quick journey. You need to understand that studying a language is a slow process. Our brain can’t remember new information instantly. We forget the most information we receive during the day, because our brain doesn’t find it relevant and useful. In order to memorise something we need to repeat it again and again. That’s why learning new words and phrases is so difficult. Our memory needs time for that. 

One more important thing is that we don’t actually need to know a lot of words to be able to talk with people. At the end of this video I will tell you how many words I have used to make this lesson. I am sure you’ll be surprised. Some people spend a lot of time learning new words and phrases by heart. They believe that the more words they know the better their speaking will be. It’s not true.

Our speaking mostly depends on our ability to think in English and to use those words and phrases we already know. We need about 500-600 words in order to be able to hold basic conversations in English. If you know thousands of words, it doesn’t mean you can speak advanced English. The most important thing is to train your speaking.

So let’s have a look at some powerful ways to learn new vocabulary and improve your speaking!

Write everything down

I really like writing down all the good words or phrases I hear. By writing something down you make your visual memory work on you. I write down everything I find useful to me. No matter what I do. I can listen to something in English or read or watch. It doesn’t really matter. Every time I see a good word, I write it down! When I read a book I write down useful vocabulary with my pencil right inside the book. Sometimes I can write the same word several times or even write the whole sentence again and again! 

I like writing by hand, rather than typing on a smartphone. When I write with a pencil I memorise words and phrases much better. The reason is that when we type something we usually do it so fast and don’t even think too much. We do it automatically with our smartphone. When I write something by hand, I do it slowly and try to pay attention to writing. It helps me to learn and memorise vocabulary.  

So I recommend that you have a notebook. Write down new words and phrases that you find useful. I’ve been learning German now and also have a notebook. As you can see there is a lot of handwriting in there. I really enjoy it and it helps me a lot!

Look into your notebook from time to time and review the vocabulary. Or you can use a special program that I’m going to tell you about right now.

Impove vocabulary with AnkiApp

The next tool I like using in order to improve my vocabulary is an application based on spaced repetition of methodic cards. I am sure you’ve heard about such apps. The most popular one is Anki. The app is absolutely free and available on Android and iOs. You can find the links in the description. 

So I add the words and phrases I want to learn in Anki by creating so-called flashcards. Each flashcard includes the word or phrase in my own language on one side and its translation into English on the back one. The program will automatically show   the words to you and, depending on how well you know the word, you need to choose from “fail, hard, good or easy”. Based on your answer the app will show you the words again sooner or later. It’s called spaced repetition, which is very effective for memorising any kind of information.

I really like the app and work with it on a constant basis about 5-10 minutes a day. I don’t have to learn new vocabulary by heart. I just need to open Anki and review the flashcards I have created. In some period of time the words and phrases are stored deeply in my brain. I memorise them well and can easily use them in a conversation. 

So Anki is a must have app for those who learn a foreign language!

Learn words and phrases with reading

The next important thing that helps me to improve my vocabulary is reading. I like reading PDF transcripts of the podcasts. By the way, if you are subscribed to our podcasts yet, you can do it right now. 

First I listen to podcasts and then I read a text version of it, making some notes in my notebook and adding new flashcards in the AnkiApp. When I read something I try to do it out loud with my voice. When I see a good sentence I repeat it several times keeping the right intonation in pronunciation. I always remind myself that if I want to 

memorise something, I need to repeat it in order for my brain to find the information relevant and useful.

There are a lot of graded books for English learners. You can easily find a book of your level of English. I like books from Oxford Bookworms Library. I will put the link in the description. They are books that were adapted by native speakers for English learners. So you can read them using the same approach I described earlier. Reading is a powerful way to expand your vocabulary and improve your English in general!

Speak English and improve vocabulary

One more perfect way to memorise new vocabulary is speaking itself guys! It may sound a little bit strange, but speaking practice is one of the best ways to improve vocabulary. When we speak a language, we have to use different words and phrases. By using them in a real conversation we actively use our memory and vocabulary is being stored deeply in our brain. The more we speak the better our vocabulary becomes. We learn how to think in English and start using words and phrases automatically.  

Moreover, we learn new words and phrases much faster when we hear them from other people. A real speaking practice is your best helper in improving vocabulary. Don’t forget about it!

So guys it was some tips on how to improve vocabulary when studying a language. How do you learn and memorise new words and phrases? What kind of experience do you have? Share it with us in the comment section!

As promised, here is the number of unique words I have used to make this lesson. As you can see, it’s not a lot. It’s not necessary to know a lot of words to be able to speak English and discuss the most common topics. 

Thank you very much for watching and don’t forget to like this video! Keep learning English and see you later. Bye bye!

Unique words used: 383