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How to Improve Vocabulary When Learning a Foreign Language

Aug 17, 2007
Vocabulary improvement is undoubtedly one of the key elements in any language learning process, regardless if you're learning French, English, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese or any other language, no matter how "complicated" it is and what its rules are. Actually, obtaining an initial vocabulary base is one of the key elements you need to focus on when learning a foreign language and afterwards, increasing your vocabulary is a constant process you need to go through. There are several means to do so, some of which we will be going through below.

Translated texts

Using translated texts is a great way to improve your vocabulary, especially in the beginning stage of the language learning process, when you can't deduct words out of the context from a foreign text, simply because you don't understand it at all. Having a translation of the text however, allows you to form links between the words and their meanings. Obviously, it's important that these texts are kept simple and clean and that they don't use words that can have several meanings that would only confuse you.

Mnemonics

Although not necessarily a "new" method, mnemonics have been proven to be very effective in allowing students to memorize new words. The "trick" behind mnemonics is to link words in your native language to words in the new language and form visual images from the two. Oftentimes, these images will be far from common, sometimes they will be bizarre or interesting, which will only make them easier to be remembered. To give you some insight on how to use mnemonics, we'll take a look at the famous "yellow ice" example used in several free online courses as well as in many course books: the Spanish word for ice is "hielo" which resembles the English word yellow. This automatically forms a visual image of "yellow ice" which will help you remember the connection between the two.

The Dictionary method

The Dictionary method is a continuous effort and unlike some of the other vocabulary improvement methods, it won't be that fast, but it will definitely be long-term effective. What this method is all about is trying to learn a new word in the language you're studying on a daily basis. Open up the dictionary at a random page each day, spot a word you don't know and memorize it and what it means. This doesn't sound much indeed, but in fact you will be learning several words at once with the help of the dictionary's explanations. If you manage to form a study rhythm with this method you'll be on a constant vocabulary improvement streak.

In conclusion, one thing you need to always keep in mind is that a language's vocabulary is the foundation you will be working on and if this foundation isn't strong enough, the other parts of the structure won't be extremely stable as well. Besides the above-mentioned methods, you will be able to find several more on websites dealing with language learning techniques, some of which will prove to be well suited for you, whereas others will prove to be a waste of time. It will be your call to judge which ones you will take upon.
About the Author
Increase your foreign language vocabulary at http://www.InternetPolyglot.com by playing online games and become a true polyglot. The site contains thousands of lessons in different languages from English, Spanish, French, Russian to Dutch, Portuguese, Arabic and many others.
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