The first thing that often comes to people’s minds when discussing the journey towards foreign language fluency is the need to study vocabulary. And unless you’re one of the rare ones, the second thought that follows is how boring and useless studying vocabulary is.
Do you really need all that endless drilling? The truth is that traditional ways of learning vocabulary can hurt your progress. The trick is knowing how to study vocabulary so that it supports your goal of attaining foreign language fluency.
The first part of learning how to remember better vocabulary is to understand how the brain remembers. Your brain is highly adaptive. It’s always trying to figure out how to optimize your life by filtering out information that doesn’t have any relevance to you. At the same time, when it realizes that it needs to learn information to function, it adapts to support memory.
The process is very similar to how muscles work and grow. The more you bench press, the more your body adapts to the weight and builds muscle fibers to improve. When you first start working out, you can often end up sore for days after the gym. However, after a time, your body adapts and acclimates to the stress. It takes more and more to push you to that limit. The same is true with your memory.
Learning to remember is a skill that takes time to fine-tune and grow. If you’re looking for a quick way to learn French, for instance, then the key to making this happen successfully is persistence. The more you stick with it, the easier it becomes over time and the more you can increase the difficulty. If you want to develop your vocabulary, then you need to expose yourself to new vocabulary often. Your brain will adapt, and you’ll more easily remember.
Many people think that knowing the definition of a word means understanding it, but that’s not necessarily true. You can easily see this when someone asks you to explain the meaning of certain words in your native language that you don’t regularly use. You may struggle to remember or explain what they mean, even though you know the meaning.
Meaning comes, however, when we put the word in a sentence or phrase. Think of the word, “uncanny.” The definition might not come to mind. However, when you put the word in a phrase, “she had an uncanny resemblance to…” you understand the overall meaning. And if you don’t, you can use the context clues to understand what the word means.
This is what we’re aiming for when we’re learning new vocabulary. You want to either know the definition or be able to figure out what the word means because of the context clues and prior exposure to it.
On the road to foreign language learning, you’ll need to adapt skills for effective vocabulary building. The key word here is effective. Raw rehearsal, endless drilling , doesn’t work for long-term memory storage. In fact, it can hurt your progress. Luckily, this isn’t your only option. Follow these strategies when learning new vocabulary words to make sure they stick.
The mind works like a muscle. Learning new words and recalling them is a skill that needs development. Revisiting and remembering is the best way to learn something. This is okay. The fact that you’re attempting to make progress towards your goal is what matters.
What also helps is choosing a great program that supports fluency. With a language learning program like Optilingo, you won’t waste time on strategies that don’t work. Instead, you’ll follow a proven path towards foreign language fluency.
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