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How To Learn Foreign Vocabulary

Education : Exams And Revision

If you are studying a language either at university or night classes, it is vital that you improve your vocabulary on a regular basis, because this will help you enormously in every aspect of your studies: reading, listening, speaking and writing. The first thing to do is buy a vocabulary book or use index cards and put the foreign word on one side and the translation on the other.

You should try and note down any new words as you hear them in lectures, and when you have a reading passage and are looking up key words, make sure you write them down because otherwise it is pointless looking them up - you will find you are doing it again and again, what a waste of time!

Make an effort to revise your vocab everyday, not just the new words but the old words too. Get into a habit, even just taking out 10 minutes before you go to bed will help. If possible, you might want to write out names for objects in your room and stick them to that object - that way you are revising without even thinking about it!

Or you could also write out vocabulary onto large sheets of paper in brightly coloured pens and stick them up on your walls. This can also apply to key grammar points or irregular verbs you are having particular trouble remembering.

If you have lessons with a native speaker then really make the most of this, and listen to what they are saying. Similarly if you can access satellite TV, try and watch some programmes in the language - you pick up some great phrases and colloquialisms, and also this practice improves your listening and concentration skills dramatically.

Reading newspapers in the language is another good idea because you get practice at scanning an article and understanding it by just checking the meaning of key words and phrases.

And of course, if you get the chance to visit the country whose language you are learning, then make the most of it and really make an effort to speak. It can be scary at first but after a few days you will get used to it and develop more confidence as being forced to speak to natives is one of the best ways to improve your knowledge of a foreign language.

By: Bev Woolfson on Wed, Jun 12th 2002

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