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Student Information


How to Remember New Words

By Mike Gill, Teacher at St Giles Eastbourne

English has a large vocabulary and it is really important to find ways to remember new words you meet in and out of the classroom. Here are some tips that many of my students have found helpful in the past to improve learning:

  • Firstly, try to keep a personal diary for a few days each week. In the diary include 7 new words. In this way, the new vocabulary  begins to belong to you  personally. Showing  your diary to others helps to open up conversation with  others, too.
  • Use online dictionaries as well as your own electronic dictionary so that you can listen to a variety of accents.
  • Cut up some small cards –recycle if possible- and write the new word on one side. On the other side write either a definition of the new word, an example containing it or maybe an opposite or similar word. Test yourself from the definition or example. Also, say the new word, cover it, say it again write it down, check it.  Remember:  Say, Cover Say Write , Check.
  • Old shoe boxes are very useful. Find 3 old boxes. Label one box “This week” Label another box “Last week”. Finally label the last box “Last month”. Put your cards in the boxes according to when you studied them. Open the box labelled “Last month” If you remember the word on the card, put it in “This week”. If you have forgotten it, put it back. Study it again. The aim is to get every word in the box for “This week”. That is the challenge.
  • Take an old juice carton and cut 2 letterboxes, one near the top and another near the bottom of one side. Open the top and tape two strips of card inside that connect the letterboxes inside. Close the top. When you post a card through the top letterbox with the new word showing, it will magically flip over to reveal the definition or example on the other. Great fun!!!
  • There are many word games that families play together. One example of these is Scrabble. You needn’t play on a board. Take a fixed number of tiles and make as many words as you possibly can in a minute. Keep adding to the remaining tiles so that you are always playing with the same number.
  • Diagrams: There are many diagrams you can use to organise new words: Two examples are:

Venn diagrams for synonyms:

Rockets for collocations:

  • Remember: new words are often linked to words you know. Linking the new word to another helps you remember it. A peach is a kind of fruit. It grows on trees  in warm countries and makes great jam. It’s like a nectarine. Can you name 10 other fruit?
  • Play with the sounds of new words: For instance: each peach that you reach, you can eat on the beach.
  • Finally, repeat the new word often. Repetition helps memory.