How to Memorize Vocabulary Fast

with Lingvist’s Course Wizard

*This post was published on the Lingvist Blog.

The most frustrating feeling when speaking a foreign language is knowing the word for something but not being able to remember it. The “tip of the tongue phenomenon” occurs when we fail to retrieve a word from our long-term memory. Although we can’t guarantee that this will never happen to you again, utilizing the following strategies along with Lingvist’s Course Wizard can help you avoid it in your target language!

What makes a word memorable? The same things that make a moment or experience memorable:

1. emotional impact, such as humor or inspiration

2. unexpected, bizarre, or unusual circumstances

3. context surrounding the event or word

4. sensory input (visual, tactile, or auditory)

5. repetition

6. categorizability

So the trick to memorizing vocabulary is manipulating your learning methods to utilize one or more of these features.

1. Emotional Impact

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said …but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

Films, songs, and stories (whether fiction or non-fiction, even those in newspapers) will connect the new vocabulary with a feeling, helping you to learn them faster. A popular mnemonic devicefor memorization is to create stories in your mind to help you memorize vocabulary. You may want to stick to humorous stories for this one so that you’re not bringing up sad memories every time you use the word!

Apply it!

If you have a list of vocabulary you’re trying to remember, create a longer story with a beginning, middle, and end. Say you’re memorizing the following list of beach vocabulary in preparation for your trip to the south of France:

the shorele bord de la mer
the sunscreenla crème solaire
the towella serviette
the wavela vague

The following story could help you structure the vocabulary (remember to give the story a plotline, with some sort of occurrence and consequence!):

Beginning: A princess decided to go to THE SHORE because she was so BORED. So she went to le bord de la mer. She was famous in the kingdom for her CREAMY white skin. Her mother’s rule was that any time she felt the AIR on her skin, she had to be wearing SUNSCREEN. So she put on lacrème solaire before she left.

Middle: Once she arrived, she noticed a sign which warned of especially large WAVES that day. However, it was very VAGUE and didn’t say which part of the beach was dangerous. So she was walking along when la vague came out of nowhere and got her completely drenched.

End: She was completely wet and upset. She decided never to come to le bord de la mer again, no matter how BORED she was. She called for a SERVANT to SERVE her up a fresh TOWEL. So the SERVANT brought her la serviette right away.

See the full article on the Lingvist blog!