How to learn new vocabulary in a foreign language

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I’ve taught a lot of students to learn another language, and a lot of them go for the memorising of new words method to improve their language. These students will take out books with lists of words in them and try to remember these words perhaps by writing the words out again and again, or perhaps by reciting them out loud. While we all learn in different ways and some students may learn a lot this way, I feel that there are better ways to improve your vocab in a foreign language.

First keep the ammount of new words that you are trying to learn bite-sized, dont try to learn too many at once, stick to say 20 or so, that should be more than plenty. Remember that revision is important too if you want to really remember them, just trying once to learn the new words just isn’t going to cut it.

A lot of my students who use the reciting way to learn new words face two problems, first it is boring- brain numbingly tedious! Second it dosn’t help you know how to use the word, sure you know this word means this in your language, but can you actually use the word in a sentence or a paragraph? So the key is to see the words, and learn them in a context, this is where I tell my students to read, read and read some more. Firstly it is much more interesting than just looking at a list of words, secondly it allows you to see how these words are used. The more you read the more you will see the same words used again and again in different situations, it is also a good way to revise, as the words that are most common, and thus most useful, will appear the most in the texts and articles that you read. Another thing about reading, students can learn not only English but also other knowledge at the same time, you could read a book about the country’s culture or fairy tales and learn more about the culture that goes with the language you are learning, at the same time. Lastly reading is a good way to get students to learn a lanaguage in a more interesting way, if your students hate the language they are learning but are mad about Football, then let them look at football articles in the target languge, this is a perfect way to increase their motivation to learn.

Lasty where should we find all this reading material? Well online off course! You can probably find anything about any topic online, if your students are learning English- Why not send them to Bukisa!! 🙂


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