How do you remember English vocabulary? In this article, we’ll look at how to make what you learn naturally memorable. We focus on vocabulary here but what we will see applies well to phonics or grammar.
The first thing to consider is that it is only natural to forget. Our brains are wonderful “machines” but only keep what matters. If you forget something, your mind has seen it as unimportant. However, to retain the vocabulary, you need to make your brain understand that the vocabulary in question is important to you. Keep your English vocabulary as natural to remember, you need as many of the following elements as possible and you can memorize them with the acronym CCARE: clarity, context, learning by doing, regularity, emotions.
C for clarity
we can only properly preserve what we clearly perceive. When you encounter a new word, phrase, or sentence, ask yourself the following questions:
Is the pronunciation clear?
Can you hear?
Can you repeat the same thing?
Is the exact meaning clear?
Is the sentence correct?
The goal is to eliminate suspicion as much as possible. Having an audio transcript of what you study, audio transcription, and using high-quality natural content will help clarify all of this.
Regarding the last point (“Is the sentence true”), we are not necessarily always sure. So, go ahead: if you learned the phrase in question from the Aborigines (English language person or media – TV series, movie, YouTube, etc.), then take it as true (“If the Aborigines say that, that means it’s true”).
On the other hand, if you learned the sentence in question from someone whose native language is not English, be careful.
C for context
If you take a word by itself, it is impossible to remember because, first of all, it can have different meanings and you do not know which word to talk about. Then the crux of the matter is that it’s very hard to comment a single word on anything.
Memory works mainly by association and to maintain the English vocabulary you need! This is what will make connections between everything you learn. What does context mean? It means learning a new word in a complete sentence. It means learning a new sentence in the context of a specific situation. For example, if you are learning the word wand, it is better to learn it within the term magic wand than to learn it alone and in isolation. Likewise, it’s best to learn this in the context of a sentence like a magician used his magic wand then: pfft! The girl is gone. It is not out of the sentence.
Learning by Doing Learning by Doing or Learning by Doing in English helps us comprehend and apply – it is precisely about learning and retention by putting things into practice. Or, as the saying goes: By forgery, one becomes a blacksmith (English: Practice creates perfection).
To learn English, you need to use it! The school has clearly managed to, unfortunately, make us forget (as if everything could be learned by sitting at a table studying the text).
And when I say exercise, I mean you need to speak English.
Concretely, it means speaking out loud.
Ideally, we would all have an English speaker to speak with, at all times, to broaden our range of English. Speaking is by far the best way to retain English because it forces us to: Use it to speak; To hear understanding; To verify our understanding and awareness. (All three things are impossible in front of a rule book, for example.)
Practically speaking, you don’t always have an English speaker on hand, but fortunately, surrounding yourself with content and exercising out loud does a similar function. As long as you have English content that you can practice on, you can learn by doing.
In particular, you’ll want to surround yourself with sound (preferably with verbal transcription) to practice your ear and your listening skills.
You will want to be as active as possible, either imagining situations in English (an internal dialogue where you think in English; writing to someone in English) or translating from French to English.
In short, take action. This explains all the difference that exists between knowledge and knowledge. (Failure to do so explains why, even if many French people know so much English grammar when they leave the school system, they are still unable to speak the language.)
If you are having trouble finding your words in English, you need to train yourself to be more active and start learning with practice.
R for regularity
As soon as we discover something, the memory of that thing quickly disappears from our memory (the information is said to degrade).
For example, if your chance of remembering a new English expression is 100% when you discover it … well, it might drop to 80% after a few minutes and then get worse. Roughly speaking, in less than a week, your chances of remembering a new expression will be zero.
So if you practice English infrequently, you will forget everything you learn! If you think you have a bad memory, check how many times you speak English first.
To remember: review what you’re doing.
The most natural way to do this is to speak English all day – morning, noon, and evening! It would be a chore if you do it on boring things (see How You Never Get Bored in English) but it will be a pleasure and an investment in you if you do it in interesting things.
You can diversify your pleasures:
Study English in the morning.
Review the afternoon
and then relax in the evening in English.
Missed moments throughout the day and creating your environment in English (phone, computer, searching in English instead of French) will take care of the gaps.
And to make it effective and make sure you stick to it, be organized!
Every Sunday evening, prepare the contents you’ll use during the week. Put the podcast or audiobook you want to listen to on your smartphone, put an English book on your pillow, or prepare something to practice on in your lost moments (transport, waiting room) either on your phone or in paper form (flashcards, pocket deco) )
E for emotions
Finally, this last point is likely to override all others. If you want to make something memorable and hold it as long as possible, add some vibes to it! When the world and the news look like World War III … well, yeah, it tends to make an impression.
To make things memorable, use resources that are naturally rich in emotion (live content, comedies, plays – yes, I know, another bad thing for traditional school resources!).
Moreover, put emotion into what you learn in English. See it as the work of an actor. Play with your tone of voice and use your imagination to make the English you are learning more lively and therefore unforgettable.
Next: Tools and techniques that help us
This is all for today and for natural ways of preserving vocabulary. In a future article, we will supplement these methods by learning about tools and techniques that can help us retain the English language