Advance English Vocabulary with Flashcard Technology Tools

IS_FlashcardSets

Have you ever thought you are not making progress learning new vocabulary words in English? If you are frustrated not advancing to new levels, you can use technology tools to assist you in learning the language.

You will need more advanced vocabulary to achieve English fluency in reading, writing, listening, and speaking and to perform well on exams such as TOEFL, IELTS, GMAT, and GRE. So, why not take advantage of any number of online technology tools to practice vocabulary that can assist you in progressing at a faster rate?

 

  • Make digital flashcards

 

In the past, flashcards may have been thought of as a boring way to study English words, but that is no longer the case. New online technology tools creating fun flashcards with games will make learning English vocabulary interesting and effective because it optimizes your ability to retain knowledge.

  1. Recall the knowledge by engaging “active memory”; when you look at the front side of a flashcard and flip it over, it creates a strong connection in your brain, enhancing the chance of you remembering the word choice.
  2. Looking at the second side of the flashcard helps to advance your memory because you use your self-reflective abilities in learning the language, and investigations show that applying meta cognition builds knowledge into your memories.
  3. As you repeat flashcards in study session practice, you will boost your confidence in your ability to recall the new words. Research has shown reviewing words is an optimal way to improve your memory performance.

Creating flashcards using online website tools is a useful way to maximize your vocabulary advancement in proficient English. Since you review the cards repeatedly, the word choice becomes ingrained in your brain. With the cards, you will recall the new terms. Here are some websites with tools to create flashcards for university students:

  1. QuizMeOnline offers online flashcards and social networking for students
  2. StudyStack offers free online English language flashcards with the fun of games
  3. StudyBlue is a free study app for smartphones that allows you to study with partners online
  4. Quizlet allows you to practice cards, spell, test, play games
  5. Examtime has free 3D flashcards, study plans, and other online tools like mind mapping and notes
  6. Flashcard Machine a service that offers making study flashcards for free to share with study partners

You will find any of these online tools helpful to improving your study progress mastering English vocabulary.

Top 5 Tips to Help Improve Your English

Set concrete goals high

Set concrete goals high

 

  1. Establish short term and long term goals why you are learning English.

Ask yourself:

  • What are the reasons I want to learn English?
  • What will I do with the language?
  • Do you need to travel abroad or to the United States?
  • Do you plan to attend graduate school?
  • Do you want to speak with your friends who are English-speakers?
  • Do you want to use English in running a business?

Self-Reflection:

  • Whatever your reasons, consider why learning English is most important to you.
  • Write down your goals.
  • Make a chart that you can refer to daily to inspire you to move forward.
  • Consider how long you will need to study.
  • What exact skills do you need to improve in the language?
  • How will you get from point A (where you are now) to point B (your destination i.e. your short term or long term goal)?
  • How will you know when you are able to meet your goal?
  • What is going to happen when you reach your objective(s)?

 

  1. Try a new strategy

How long have you been studying test-taking in English? 1-2 years? If you feel your language level has not continued to improve week by week, try a new technique. For instance, if you are studying from a book, try something different. At times, if you feel stagnant, making a change in the manner in which you learn will help to improve your language skills. Doubtless, change will help you grow.

  • Listen to English podcasts
  • Listen only to English music on your phone when you are relaxing
  • Get a native English coach
  • Enroll in an English course online
  • Watch English TV
  • Watch (international) news only in English
  • Meet a native speaker online to do a language exchange by the web
  • Meet an English-speaking colleague/friend
  • Join an English study group
  • Join a college course online that is in English

 

  1. Never give up. Learning a language requires practice. Take runners, for example, who do not run a marathon without training; they put in months or more of training. If you keep trying, and if you continue to practice English, you can master academic skills in reading, listening, speaking, writing, and vocabulary. To be inspired, think of yourself in a marathon. What you can do each day to get you to reach your goal .Keep telling yourself you will get there to a major accomplishment with these minor achievements. The days or moments you feel frustrated while you are learning, remember not to give up hope. Believe in yourself and your abilities. If you keep putting in extra effort into language learning, the next study day you will feel more comfortable, confident, and fluent. When you feel down, think about the last thing you learned, and pat yourself on the back for having learned that. Encourage yourself to keep going forward.

 

  1. Be positive about the learning process. Mastering English does not happen overnight, so be patient with yourself. Avoid putting yourself down with negative thoughts. If you hear yourself in your head saying, “I’ll never be fluent in English,” immediately switch those negative words to positive encouragement. Tell yourself, instead, “Even though it’s a new language, if I keep studying, I’ll learn more each day” or “Though a lot of new vocabulary is challenging, I can accomplish learning more if I keep studying day by day.” Stay positive in your mind, because in this way you will learn English more quickly.

 

  1. Harbor no fear about making minor errors in English. In fact, being fearful of making mistakes can stop you from learning quickly. If you sometimes avoid speaking with native speakers because you lack confidence, you can change your attitude to be more confident. Stop being fearful of producing mistakes since it is natural to make errors when using another language. When people speak other languages, mistakes arise. You will only get better in another language the more you practice it and the more confidence you feel about your abilities.

 

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Why Am I Not Improving English?

Woman Writing in Daily Planner

Avoid translating

  1. You are translating from your native language into English. That’s a big “no-no.” Avoid translating from your first language into English. You can speed up your progress in English if you simply focus on listening to English and catch the words you understand. Use the context to guess understanding. For instance, if someone says, “There will be a big shin dig this Friday night.” Imagine you don’t know the word shin dig. Don’t translate it. Just imagine what those words could mean in terms of happening on Friday night: a feast, a reception, a get together, a dance, or a dinner party.

 

  1. You are not practicing enough English speaking with a native. Dedicate enough study time to make advancements. Don’t expect to study English only a half hour per week and improve rapidly. Intensive language learning of a few set hours every weekday can expand your progress. When you do have a set study session in-person with a native speaker, don’t forget to speak. Sometimes, when you are conversing with someone in another language, it’s easy to just listen, but you won’t learn English faster if you don’t practice participating more in the conversation. So, the more you converse, the more you will learn to communicate better in English. If you spoke English just one time today, next time or tomorrow, try to speak two times. Of course, the more often you practice speaking, you can improve your confidence and your fluency in the language.

 

  1. You lack confidence in your English abilities. How can you improve in the language if you do not believe in yourself? Be confident that you are learning, and you will acquire more language skills day by day. Avoid saying, “Sorry,” if you don’t feel confident using English fluently yet with a native speaker. If you come across a new word/phrase/express, you can always ask a native speaker, “What does (~phrase) mean?” Just because you may not be familiar with idiomatic expressions or advanced vocabulary, you don’t need to apologize if you are not at the highest level. Remember that you are trying. Give yourself a break because you are learning a language. Keep trying your best, be confident that you will learn more and more. No doubt, you will learn more vocabulary as you progress to a higher level.

 

  1. You are not listening to a sufficient amount of English daily. Perhaps you do not understand enough of what you listen to. Let’s say that you comprehend only about 65%. This is particularly a concern if you live in a foreign country (a non-English speaking place) and do not have access to listening to speakers of English face-to-face. Solution: get a native trainer online or in-person, or listen to English on the web. Practice listening to English every day to train your ears to focus on words you already know in English and listen for word chunks, phrases, which you may be familiar with to comprehend the context. Avoid listening just for grammar. You won’t be able to attain fluency by picking apart a conversation through grammar points. Stop trying to catch single words. Neither will you be capable of advanced fluency if you are concentrating only on individual words in a dialogue. You need to listen for how phrases are grouped together in a pattern. You can listen to music, television, or movies to gain more fluency and understanding. Tell your ears they must listen to English phrases, understand English in context, and capture the bigger picture, the overall meaning.

 

  1. You forgot what you already studied in previous lessons. If you are not remembering your intake, then taking notes on what you learned during your study sessions will help you review and keep the knowledge fresh. For example, keep an English notebook for acquiring more information. In your journal (digital or paper,) you can take note of phrases that are new that you can learn. Then, try to use these new groups of words if you think of it in context. If you write down only the vocabulary word, you may not understand in the future how to use it in context, so try to catch an entire phrase. Later, when you review your notebook, the whole phrase will serve as a reminder of the meaning in context. Consequently, it will be much easier to recall. Furthermore, it will be a base for you to move up to the next level.

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Improve English to Score High on TOEFL

Success and Failure Road Sign with dramatic clouds and sky.

Have you picked your brains about how to rapidly advance your language progress to improve your TOEFL score?  Here are a few techniques to help get you achieve your objectives.

First, stay mentally motivated. You need to put in the time to study to improve. You can give yourself constant encouragement by dwelling on all of the reasons that you want to attain your target score. If you make a list of those reasons, you can post them on the wall near your study desk so you can look at them daily to keep you focused on your goal. Having your reasons posted nearby will help you not procrastinate. Whenever you feel like you want to put off studying, look up at your list with your goals, and that reminder will help you stay on task. If you are able to study consistently without being distracted, you have a higher chance of keeping your motivation level high. Only you can drive yourself to the next level of commitment. Your list serves as a daily reminder.

Second, make time to study. You need to schedule enough time to practice each section and review your errors so that you can improve from your mistakes. Though you may have a balancing act of student, work, or family life to juggle, keep concentrating on your priorities of getting to your highest score. You need to arrange time and dedicate extra energy outside of your normal life activities to study test preparation so that your English will advance step by step. It is not only important to study new materials, but also to brush up on what you learned a few days previously, so that you can easily retain the information to use later on.

Third, think about learning positively. Do you have a good spot to study? Wherever you plan on having your study sessions, make sure that area is conducive to staying focused. Eliminate distractions. If you have a positive learning environment with a clean desk area, you will feel less stressed to get down to study. Sitting yourself in a quiet, clean space will help give you a positive mindset. In your study space, plan your time to accomplish certain activities. For instance, study for 25-30 minutes and then take a break for two minutes standing up and moving around to move your energy. You must not study more than one hour sitting at one time because the brain performs better when it has a little rest. If you are planning to sit down and study for three hours, a positive approach would not be to study straight through, but to take 3-5 short breaks within the overall time. Statistically, the research has proven that the brain focuses better in this way. You will be able to retain more information, and it will bring you more success in the long run.

Next, avoid anxiety and stress. If you tend to worry about negative thought patterns such as, “It’s difficult; I can’t do it.” Eliminate those ideas from your mind. Don’t be frustrated. Try to be patient and focus on your goals. Talk to yourself with positive words like, “I am learning more every day. I retain all the information that I study. I am good at English. I can achieve my goal with my daily studies.” If you are able to avoid stressing yourself out, you will be able to block out the negativities. Positive reactions to taking a test will result in calmness on the day of the test. You will have a mental advantage on the exam. When you feel overwhelmed, it is okay to just take a break. Get enough rest, and don’t forget to have fun. Keep yourself positive and the stress will melt away.

Lastly, find a balance in your life. Work-study balance is vital to keeping your brain calm so it functions well on the test day. You will be able to achieve success if you schedule in time to do fun things with friends and family. It’s not just about studying. To get your goal, you need to have a solid balance of academics and normal life so that the brain is stronger. Take time to eat well, exercise daily, and reflect on all the positive improvements you have made and all the skills you have advanced on.

How to Study Effectively, Part 1

Be organized

  1. Create a study calendar. Organize your timetable so that your biggest weaknesses are prioritized first and given the most attention time. Prioritize (high-medium-low) skills and practice what needs to be learned urgently first. Then, address what weaknesses you can strengthen and plan out how long you expect it to take you. Avoid procrastinating and be sure to give equal time to your least favorite task. Practice the skill that you enjoy most LAST not first. The skills that are the least urgent to learn practice last as well. Use color coding on your calendar to highlight the most important skill to learn.
  2. Use a study notebook. It can be either a traditional notebook, or Notes in an app on a smartphone. Whichever you use for taking notes, keep it handy at all times so you can refer to it in your free time. Notes are a valuable tool to keep yourself organized and to retain information you already studied so you are able to track your progress and advance in the language.
  3. Address different language skills when you study. If you take too much time on just one academic skill, it will give you less time for another skill, which may be just as important to improve your English or test-taking strategies.
  4. Keep your notebook/notes/computer files well organized. Create files by academic skills in your computer files, notes in a binder, or notebook. For instance, have a notebook for vocabulary, for speaking, for listening, for reading, for writing; or otherwise, have different sections of your notes in your binder for each academic skill. Write the skill name to label the differing sections, so that when you go to study, you can quickly reference your notes. Be sure to write the date on the left side of your notes for each day that you write new notes. You skill subjects can be then divided into sub topics such as a particular topic of different kinds of vocabulary words or where you got those vocabulary words from. In this way, you can quickly reference your notes by skill, by sub topic, or by date. All of this organization will make it much easier to locate a certain topic when you need to refer back to it quickly later on in your practice.

Have a target range

  1. Timing: when you make your study table with your deadline date, be sure you have given yourself a realistic time frame to complete what you would like to achieve. For example, “Complete writing essay task 2 for 30 minutes timed. Clearly write exactly what you have in mind to accomplish in terms of an activity during a specific time and on a certain date.
  2. Be realistic. When you set your target, it needs to conform to what you can attain. If, for instance, you set an unrealistic ideal, you may not be able to get your target, or you will feel discouraged if you cannot get your objective. By looking at your calendar and working within a specific time frame to complete practice activities, you can set real targets which are attainable.
  3. Reward yourself for minor achievements: think daily in terms of what you can achieve. Every little achievement is like a baby step, and it will help you feel more comfortable in the language as well as assist in building your confidence in TOEFL and for test taking. With this in mind, you can reach your short term and long term goals. Reward yourself after each study session. When you reach a target, mentally congratulate yourself. Positivity goes a long way in building your confidence to succeed.