What is the best way to study vocabulary?What is the best way to study vocabulary?

Expert Answers
psmortimer eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Everyone has their own unique way of learning. Some use music to memorize and/or learn since both sides of the brain are addressed. Some can simply memorize. I do agree that words should be learned and used repeatedly in context.

Here are three tips I have used for my students:

1. Each word should be used and repeated three times.

2. Relate the word and/or its meaning to something familiar. One example: A student was struggling with the word amity (friendship). She had a good friend named Amy. In her mind it was easy to link amity to Amy.

3. This is a favorite of mine. Put each word on the front of a card, definition on the back. Make a stack of nouns, verbs. and adjectives (or whatever you need). Choose several at random and write a poem, story or song using those words correctly. The more ridiculous the better! You will remember.

scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

If you are asking about learning vocabulary from a list that your teacher has given you, it is a little more difficult to learn it in context (which is as Post 2 states the best way to learn words). Many of my students find flashcards to be helpful, whether it's from learning terms for history or science class or literary vocabulary for English.

If you are a visual learner, you can try creating images for vocabulary words--this also helps many of my students. However, keep in mind that to truly know a word, you need to be able to use it effectively in a sentence or your writing.

Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Quite honestly, it depends on why you want to learn the words.  All the above posts are correct in saying context is essential if you want to learn and then use the words throughout your life.  If, however, all you want to do is learn them for an exam of some kind, rote memorization on flashcards or whatever is acceptable (though I can't imagine learning words of any kind and not ever wanting to use them).  My foreign exchange students trying to learn vocabulary always want to hear the word used in context and often ask me for sentences or to check their conception of how to use them. 

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Literacy is a lifelong habit of reading, writing, learning and practicing.  I recently undertook the Rosetta Stone program for beginning Arabic.  It is such a different language, with such a different pronunciation and structure that I have to practice every day for weeks to master basic phrases.  When I back off for a week or two even, I lose some o what I have gained.

By using the language day after day, in spoken and written forms, we reinforce fluency, but it takes a lifetime of consistent and habitual practice.

ask996 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Anytime you can process information in multiple ways the learning will take place quicker. For any word, have students write down the word. Write down a definition in their own words. Have them write down a synonym for the word. Have them write an antonym of the word. Have them create a visual representation of the word. Give them many opportunities to use the word in meaningful ways. In addition, teaching roots helps students break down words into understandable parts.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I'm trying to improve my Japanese vocabulary right now.  What I do is I read the words in a book that I have.  Then I write down words that I do not know on flashcards.  I'll go over the flashcards, but I'll also reread the passages.  Sometimes I'll reread the passages with the flashcards in hand so that I can look up the word if I need to.

So I guess my point is that I think that a mix (of flashcards and reading in context) is good (for me at least).

adobson1 | Student

write the word on one side of an index card and on the other have its deffinition. then try to memorize the word and deffinition together. and then later you can quiz yourself by only reading one side and trying to figure out the other side.

eilarmos | Student

Since reading is an active mental process, I think it is one of the best way to help you study and improve your vocabulary. Try getting an interesting book or any reading material of your interest and spend time to read; while reading, bring a dictionary with you so that you could always check the meaning of unfamiliar words, or at least you could have a concept of their meaning.

In addition, try using context clue in order to give you a hint to the meaning of unfamiliar words, and to see how those words are to be used in real sentences.

Better... you may use a dictionary to find meanings and counter check those meanings with the context clues in the material that you are reading, it will be better because oftentimes, words have multiple meaning which are only discovered through actual usage of the word. I mean, with context clue, you could sometimes find alternative meanings of words.

But above all, the saying goes "practice makes perfect" I encourage you to get involved with the language. Use it! Practice all the basic communication skills: reading,writing, listening and speaking; as you go though, you'll find yourself with improved vocabulary. ^__^

epollock | Student

The best way to study vocabulary is continuously, and always in context. One can not simply look at a list of words and think to himself that he can memorize them all in ten minutes. By taking it step by step, one will improve his vocabulary in it is studied in a  progressive manner. One of the best vocabulary books on the market is one by Norman Lewis entitled, "Word Power Made Easy."

It is a book that does not merely give lists but constantly renews and recycles words for maximum comprehension. Also, if you come across new words as you read, the best thing to do is skip it and come back to it later. Do not interrupt the reading process and review words later as this will cause you to review the material you just read as you go over the new words encountered.