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Learn English Vocabulary

How to use a vocabulary list

Just got this question from a member of our forum and I thought maybe some other people would be interested.
I have created my own list of vocabulary. In fact its almost like 5000 words now spread over 100 pages. Usually its a daily job and keep adding words - at least 7 to 8 - everyday. But the struggle has been to keep those in my mind and using them as often as I can. Can you suggest what I can do in this regard for really want to master the vocab that I have created. Any tips in this regard would be very very useful - perhaps a website where I can link my created list to images or whatever that you think be possible in this case.


Here is my answer:
That's a tough one because it's not how I would suggest learning vocab. I have done flash cards so I can study a few words when I'm on the subway or something but mostly you'll learn vocab in context while using language to communicate. Listening, reading, writing, speaking - they all beat making lists. If you could take the words on your list and use them in real life, then you'd be on the right track.

Reading

If you take a look at the vocabulary learning principles thread you should note well reading fits the ideal way to learn vocabulary:

1. Vocabulary is learned incrementally (multiple exposures)
2. Learning requires multiple contexts
3. Vocabulary processed more intensely will be learned better (the depth of processing notion, or learning involvement)
4. Vocabulary is learned through spaced exposures and not fewer massive exposures)

So reading stuff with new vocabulary in it is good for you, but how much new vocabulary? You should understand more than 90% of the words when you tackle a new reading - if you understand any less, you might have trouble getting the main idea of the story / article / whatever. Since vocabulary is learned in context, you must understand the reading to benefit from the exposure to new words.

So find something that's fun to read and that you can understand. Do a lot of reading this way and you're vocabulary will increase (gradually).

Personalizing

When I was a teacher trainer at Sookmyung Women's University in Seoul, we taught our students (who were teachers) to get their learners to personalize new vocabulary items being taught. So let's say you learn the word "train". You might answer questions like "Have you ever ridden on a train?" or for its other meaning, "What was the best training you ever received?"

For me, the answers might be:
I've taken lots of train trips. My parents live in the suburbs so when I visit them I often end up taking the train in to Manhattan. I also remember a train ride in Thailand from Hua Hin to Bangkok. We couldn't understand any of the announcements so at every stop we had to ask someone if it was Bangkok yet. And a few years before that we took a few train rides in Italy. Those were often packed and sometimes we had to stand for the entire trip although we susually were able to get a seat.

As for training, when I started at Sookmyung Women's University, the lead SLA (Second Language Acquisition) teacher trained me to teach SLA according to the establised curriculum. His training style was very clear and he really helped me understand the content, deliver the content to the students, anticipate student questions, and more. In ym first sememster with a brand new system I was the highest rated techer in the program thanks to the training I got.
Now all that personalizing takes a while but it's how you learn vocabulary. Look for chances to personalize new vocabulary words on these and other forums.

Vocabulary learning principles

These come from a presentation I saw, but the English teacher's name is not on the handout. I'll give due credit as soon as I figure out who deserves it.

someone wrote:1. Vocabulary is learned incrementally (multiple exposures)
2. Learning requires multiple contexts
3. Vocabulary processed more intensely will be learned better (the depth of processing notion, or learning involvement)
4. Vocabulary is learned through spaced exposures and not fewer massive exposures)
5. Learning requires recycling
6. Learning tasks need to be manageable
7. A supportive learning environment is needed
8. Metacognitive awareness enhances learning
9. Motivation enhances learning