Test-taking / TOEFL / Vocabulary

Three Simple Steps to Powerful Vocabulary Retention

12.8.15 Vocabulary-wordle2As you wade through your groups of lengthy vocabulary lists, do you feel overwhelmed, as if you forget your new words from your vocabulary list? Are there times when you are frustrated from seeing a word you know you have seen before, but you cannot for the life of you remember what the meaning is? Of course, you realize you have to learn select new vocabulary in English to expand your word base before you take the TOEFL iBT, but are you approaching the process so that you have a distinct advantage?

Perhaps you are now scratching your head and asking yourself what strategies are more useful to quickly acquire a more extensive language base so that you can use that vocabulary efficiently on the TOEFL exam. Or, maybe you know how to encounter new English words in your study sessions, and you have been made aware of those vocabulary by writing them in a journal list to refer to, but your memory fails to recall them when you are reviewing since you have not yet implemented a set strategy of how to recall them over time. Of course, certain ways of remembering work better than simply memorizing a word. Let’s examine five.

  1. Study your new word in context by learning in chunks. Don’t just study one new word alone.

If you write down a word by itself, you will not have the context of where the word may arise in the future, so it will be easily forgotten. In English, we never communicate using only one word. English is commonly communicated in phrases, groups of words or chunks. For instance, instead of memorizing the word “bail” on its own, write down and practice reviewing these phrases “bail her out of jail,” “bail my friend out of trouble,” “bail a company out of its problems” or “bail out a company from debt.” Instead of remembering the single verb “constrained,” recall the phrases “she constrained herself from talking much,” “the ropes constrained the goat” or “he felt constrained by rules.” Each word normally is in a common phrase, so when you remember the group of words that go with the new vocabulary you are trying to recall, you will ensure you will know how to use it accurately in context.

 

  1. Don’t just write them in a vocabulary notebook. Make those words more visible everywhere around you to interact with them.

Put the new words somewhere written down where you will see them as much as possible. For example, put them on poster paper a wall (in front of your desk,) write them in a notebook that you carry with you all the time, place them on your computer desktop screen (to see them repeatedly at a glance on the computer,) have them on your smartphone in a note-taking app to refer to them throughout the day during your downtime. In that way, you can review your new words much more often and recall them more easily than simply sitting down to memorize or review them at a study session.

     3. Don’t overlook using new words daily.

Make an organized effort to use some of the new words in context every day, either in writing or speaking. If you have a short term goal of learning X amount of new words per week, be sure to have another goal of reviewing your words consistently. Take time to attack words on your vocabulary list by selecting a group of ones to use in context daily. The more you attempt to use the new words, the more you have the possibility to retain the meaning of how to use those in the future.

     4. Don’t just focus on similar words, but examine opposites too.

When you encounter a new word choice, not only take down a synonym, but make sure you look up the opposite meaning as well and take note. If you have the synonym and antonym of the new word, it will build your contextual learning base. Your brain will enact a reference point of both extremes, so you can remember more quickly.

      5. Keep “like” words grouped together.

The brain makes connections with “like” ideas, so when you come across a new word and know the meaning is similar to another word, group those words together in your word list so that you can expand your memory of those synonyms.

 

If you enjoyed sharing this advice, read Effective Note-taking for TOEFL Success to score higher test results.

 

 

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