System for memorizing vocabulary

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#1 24 August, 2011 - 14:04
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System for memorizing vocabulary


I’m working on improving my vocabulary - English is my first language, but you can never have too many words! The way I’m going about it is by noting down any words that I come across in my reading that I do not know. I then look up the words in the dictionary and try and find out their other contexts online.

The problem is, with some words, there are a lot of different ways to use them and it seems pointless memorizing every single “context” that I can find on the internet. So I’ve decided the best idea is probably to use the context that I find in the book and go on that so I don’t become overly confused.

I was wondering what the best way is to memorize words and/or their contexts? At the moment I just use the link and I’ve learnt about 20 new words recently. The problem with this is that it’s not a very organized system for retrieval. On the other hand, I’m not sure loci would work either. I want to expand my vocabulary for my writing, but also so I can be more eloquent in conversation. Obviously wandering through a building to retrieve my words whilst I’m talking to someone may not be the most practical of ideas.

Does anyone know any other systems for word-learning?

24 August, 2011 - 17:29
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Look up the etymology and derivation of each new word. A bit of Latin helps too.

24 August, 2011 - 19:35
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Have you looked at Memrise.com? They might have some good mnemonic ideas for English vocabulary.

I like Dominic O'Briens method of giving mnemonic images locations.

When I was learning vocabulary in school, one teacher made me write a story that used the vocabulary words we studied. I think I still remember all the words from that experience.

Another teacher made us write nonsense poetry using words that we didn't know the meaning of (without getting to look them up). I still don't know what those words mean, but I remember all the words, because I remember the poem, so a quick nonsense poem could be a starting point for storing the words to be reviewed. :)

25 August, 2011 - 16:02
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Thanks for the replies. I checked out Memrise.com and it seems like a really useful website for vocabulary-learning. I’m not having any issues with my mnemonics themselves, but it would be useful to find a better way of retrieving the words I need at the times I need them.

For example, say I’m having a conversation and I say that “x is very concise, clever and witty” instead I could say, “x is very epigrammatic.” But even though I know the word epigrammatic, it might not be what springs to mind when I’m having the conversation - understand what I mean? So I was wondering whether there might be a specific system wherein I could perhaps link the new word I’ve learnt to a word I already know. Or I could “store” all the words which are similar in the same place. For example, all the words which are related to evil or malice I could store in a graveyard or something like that.

Josh Cohen wrote:
Have you looked at Memrise.com? They might have some good mnemonic ideas for English vocabulary.

I like Dominic O'Briens method of giving mnemonic images locations.

When I was learning vocabulary in school, one teacher made me write a story that used the vocabulary words we studied. I think I still remember all the words from that experience.

I have read Dominic's book, but isn’t his vocabulary-learning just for foreign languages? The story-writing method sounds good. What I've been trying to do once I've learnt the words is write as many sentences as I can using the vocab. I've just learnt. Google news is also a brilliant resource for seeing how they are used in context.

27 August, 2011 - 16:47
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The Nightingale wrote:
So I was wondering whether there might be a specific system wherein I could perhaps link the new word I’ve learnt to a word I already know. Or I could “store” all the words which are similar in the same place. For example, all the words which are related to evil or malice I could store in a graveyard or something like that.

Those sound like good ideas. :)

I think that linking the words to each other would make them easier to recall in a conversation.

29 October, 2014 - 23:40
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Joined: 6 years 1 month ago

A lot of language learning experts talk about context being very important.

I'm not entirely convinced.

Or at least, I would define context differently.

For example, if you are regularly reading, writing, speaking and hearing the language, you are immersing yourself in the context of the language itself and how it is used on multiple levels.

By adding a dedicated memorization strategy to the mix, you are engaging multiple aspects of your imagination.

Because you need lots of vocabulary to even begin to practice and use grammatical principles, your focus is well spent on learning the sounds and key meanings of words (you can pick up other meanings later).

And if you're reading, writing, speaking and hearing the language while you go along, context will take care of itself.

4 November, 2014 - 12:42
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Joined: 4 years 2 weeks ago

Ive heard that it is best to memorize whole sentence when learning new language. You get the context and you can store few words in one short story. That's the way how children learn and I've heard it from a guy who make classes called "Spanish in 7 days". He also use mnemonics to teach whole sentence with coded words in another language.

I started to learn Deutsch now, I hope that way I can learn faster.

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