Read A LOT more.
Never learn a single word by itself – this limits the number of pathways to recall.
Learn the word in a common phrase. Make sure it is a phrase YOU are very familiar with, even better from your everyday life and experience.
When you remember phrases instead of single words, you ensure that you know how to actually use the word. This builds comprehension and inference skills.
Repetition (not boredom) is important. Put the words where you will see them as often as possible to rack up the reps without even trying.
Post words and phrases on a wall with sticky notes.
Practice your vocabulary phrases in a notebook you carry around to review instead of SnapChatting in line.
Put terms on your computer desktop and lock screen.
Get in more review “reps” in small chunks whenever you have down time.
Experiment with a variety of approaches to see what comes most naturally for you to learn best. We are NOT all the same.
Try not to fall into a grind – mix it up and even take a 24 hour no-study-zone break.
Find a method you are comfortable with – BUT make sure it is effective. Don’t try to cut lumber with a dull saw!
Use pre-made flashcards only to save time.
Hand-write your own flashcards for the benefit of recall (not because regular flashcards are effective).
Write down new words in sentences, in phrases, in different tenses and usages.
Vocabulary trainer app are helpful for some.
Creative storytelling is potent – combining unrelated terms takes creativity and ties them together in your mind.
Build emotional contexts – emotions can help seat a memory.
Build sensory contexts – more senses give you more pathways to recall. We often know something but cannot access the memory. This technique helps.
Study by rote if it works for you OR for very last minute recall. For example, immediately before a test. The instant you get your test, write down the words you have been repeating in your mind. This is an emergency technique for memorizing jargon just to get through a test. In two days you won’t recall any of these terms. But you might pass the test.
Link the words to characters from television, movies, stories.
Link the words to places you know well or even objects in the classroom!
Link terms to relationships in your day-to-day life.
Link new words to friendly words with which you are intimately familiar.
Study it in context – don’t repeat the word, repeat a key phrase that uses the word.
Flashcards not enough alone – read and write phrases and sentences.
Apply the new terms in different contexts – fiction vs. nonfiction, academic vs. slang, etc.
Look for placement in sentences – there are always patterns that give away hints to meaning.
Look at words that appear with and around the new word.
Look for other patterns and tie them to words you already know well.
Practice context clues – this skill translates to every subject and every language.
Use new words in a few sentences – say five out loud and write down the strongest one or two.
Teachers! Don’t accept one word answers – make students repeat vocabulary in sentences as part of their answers. Usage builds mastery!
Spaced repetition – set words aside and bring them back into rotation to keep them fresh.
Avoid tedium – walk around while studying; burn incense; keep the room bright or go outdoors.
Learn the Memory Palace Technique – some people swear by it.
The key to remembering mnemomincs is….uh….I forget. But use them. I like to use things like the letters are in alphabetical order…or they aren’t. Either way often works.
Quiz yourself and have someone else quiz you. Don’t study or quiz terms in the same order or the same groups – mix it up!
Relate terms to your past experiences.
Use creativity – often the outlandish becomes the unforgettable.
Learn and master a dedicated memorization strategy that uses some form of mnemonics and make that your one-inch punch.
Don’t wait to learn new words later. Classes are often filled with empty wasted time and you can learn, practice and apply new information while the teacher hands out homework.
Engage with new vocabulary. Think with the word and about it. Don’t set it on a mental shelf.
Put the word into context in your mind.
Match the new word phonetically to make a silly-gism. Example: Europa, the moon of Saturn. Imagine the moon of Saturn using one of Saturn’s rings to “rope” you and pull you into space.
Use a sample sentence.
Use the word out loud, often.
Google: “Anki app”
Best vocabulary builder in the world: lots of reading.
Practice the words in regular conversation – even if you sound weird!
Use sentence/phrase flashcards instead of single word.
Use real people to associate with the term.
Use facts from your life to associate.
Write the word in different forms and colors.
Use in multiple tenses and pluralities.
Break word into syllables.
Sequence groups of words by part of speech, by number of syllables, by presence of prefix or suffix.
Color code by syllable.
Color code vowels/consonants.
Color code by part of speech.
Color code word groups or families.
Color code root words/prefix/suffix.
Say it out loud.
Spell it out loud.
Pair it with an antonym and study them together as a pair.
Pair it with a synonym.
Pair with a word that is completely unrelated in meaning.
Use audio materials.
Use the words to relate to different denominations of currency.
Pair words with nations and capitals.
Pair words with different Presidents or Kings.
Assign the word a color.
Is the word spicy?
Embed the new words into your daily life – scribble them on your folders.
Look for patterns with which you can repeat your newly acquired words regularly – think “The wrist bone is connected to the arm bone…”
Vary the situations and ways in which you review your vocabulary.
Sing the new words. Opera. Rap. Hum.
Sing them in series to the tune of a song like “Row Your Boat” – make them fit the tune.
Focus on learning vocabulary in context – use google to find sample usages!
If you do use flashcards, make sure they include complete sentences.
A good vocabulary-building method is a method that keeps you motivated.
Effectiveness of a method varies from learner to learner.
And actually it will vary for the same learner over time! You will change!
Use a little note-book.
Use your phone or iPod.
Try Reddit.com – whatever you are learning, there is a subReddit for it already. If not, start one!
20 mins a day instead of long sessions.
Reading and writing!
Learn a foreign language version of the word at the same time – double the pathways to recall
Write the word BY HAND.
Practice only so many words per week or three day block – overload leads to shut down.
Spaced repetition software.
“Your brain loves context”
Learn phrases instead of just words.
Have a notebook of phrases.
Learn words through stories – you make the story!
Pictures with association makes memory stronger and faster.
Conversation – use it!!!!!!
Music activates more parts of the brain than language does.
Write all new vocabulary words on a piece of paper to keep in your pocket. Lose the paper.
I hope these ideas have helped you. By the way, if you want to build vocabulary I have a gift for you – a unit from my Ultimate WordShop.