Students complain a lot that they cannot remember the words that they have learned in class.
This is a normal problem for anyone learning English, because the human brain is very bad a remembering new information.
This is the rate that your brain loses new information once you learn it.
So how can you remember new words and phrases from your English Class?
In this article, I am going to show you step by step guide to creating flashcards that will help you remember English vocabulary for months.
This article is part one of a three-part series
Check out the rest of the series here.
- What are the different stages of learning English and what do I need to focus on?
- How to practice new English vocabulary so you never forget it.
- Core vocabulary for beginners: Most common words in English.
- Intensive listening: How To Study English With YouTube Videos
- Extensive Reading: How to understand words and phases you don't know in English!
- Grouping Words: Native speakers speak too fast (improve your listening)
Step Three: I still cannot remember the word
I still cannot remember the word I still cannot remember the word
Step One: Why Are Most Flashcards Bad?
This part is not so much a step, but we do need to talk about something vital that you should not be doing.
Don't Download your flashcards, or use flashcards that are already made!
One of the main reasons why flashcards are so useful for remembering the new vocabulary is that you make them yourself.
We are not good at remembering information like a database.
However, our brains are very good at recalling something if we connect that information to a memory, image, or a personal event.
Below is an example flashcard I made for learning Vietnamese.
- The word I am learning is Knee.
- A friend of mine has knee problems but still hikes up mountains every weekend.
- I made it myself, it's a personal event that I am associating with learning the word.
If you download your flashcards and don't make them yourself, then you are working against how our brain likes to work.
Flashcards that you have not made yourself are ineffective, because the way our brain learns languages is by connecting events and images to the words you are trying to learn.
Making the flashcards yourself, by hand or online is much more effective then buying a set of cards.
Step Two: Don't Use Vietnamese (Even if you are a low level)
Write the word or the phrase you want to learn in English, not Vietnamese..
Translating from Vietnamese to English inside your head takes too long and will stop you being fluent!
If you are trying to learn these words by translating them into Vietnamese, then you will find it extremely difficult.
When you're learning English you're not trying to understand Vietnamese words in English, you are trying to associate the new words that you don't know (English Vocabulary), with the meaning behind the word, without having to translate them in your head.
The best way to do this is to not translate the words when you are practicing them.
Write the English word or phrase you want to learn on one side, plus your own definition.
Don't copy the meaning from the dictionary, make your own meaning (something that you find funny and you will remember, see an example below).
You also need to include two examples of you using the word in different sentences.
- Your own definition will help you remember the meaning of the word, but, this does not have to make sense to other people, only to yourself.
- The examples will help you use the word in sentences and recognize the word when you hear it in conversations.
Tip: When you are writing your notes, use Grammarly to check if you are writing your examples correctly
Any flashcards you make has to have...
- An image you find funny or can relate to.
- Your own definition of the word, not copying from the dictionary.
- At least two examples of the word using is in different ways.
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Step Three: I Still Cannot Remember The Word
Did you know that we remember only 10% of what we read but 60% of what we do (The science of accelerated learning)
This is why I'm telling you to use images with all your flashcards and to make them yourself.
But what makes this even more effective is if you use a Mnemonic Devices on one side of the flashcard.
What is a mnemonic device?
These (above) are mnemonic devices.
Now, a mnemonic device is anything that helps you build an association between two pieces of information in your mind.
Mnemonic devices can be anything from rhymes to images, anything that helps you remember the vocabulary, phrase or rule.
If you cannot remember a word then in your definitions and examples use mnomnic devices to help you remember the word.
This will take some time so only use this if it is a word you really need to use a lot.
Step Four: "How Often Should I Be Practicing My Vocabulary Using Flashcards?"
To see results fast, you need to be practicing all different parts of the language.
Make sure you check out our articles , that shows you when you need to practice your vocabulary and how to make a Study Timetable.
Flashcards are very useful for remembering vocabulary, but don't only use flashcards when you are learning English.
You have to combine all the different parts of English regularly (reading, writing, speaking, listening) to learn English fast.
Step Five: "Do I Have To Make The Cards By Hand?"
Personally, I would recommend you make the cards by hand, however, for those of you who want to include your phones more in your studying...
(Which is not a bad thing, as you will then have access to your material everywhere)
If you don't want to make the cards by hand you can use this application, Anki apps
Anki is Free!
And it allows you to create personal flashcards on the move.
This application allows you to upload your own photos from social media, or it allows you to search Google Images and save them onto the cards.
Does this change the way I need to make the Flashcards if I use Anki?
No... step one is exactly the same as step one when you are making the definition and examples of the English vocabulary you want to learn.
Step two is exactly the same, the word + definition + example sentences
The images, however, you will be getting from google images.
As long as they are personal/ you find them funny, then this still follows how your brain works with learning new information.
Even if you want to make the flashcards online, you still need to use the same method as making them by hand.
This is how your brain likes to learn vocabulary.
Flashcards will be one of the most effective methods for learning new vocabulary and phrases for the long term when you are learning English.
You cannot download them, you must make them yourself, I recommend you do this by hand.
But don't forget this is only one of the flashcard methods you will be needing when you are studying.
If you think this will help you learn English faster and want more tips like this book a free trial class with us.
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