How to Build Your Vocabulary in a Foreign Language

 

The Romans have a saying: repetitio est mater studiorum. (Repetition is the mother of all learning).

FLASHCARDS

flashcardsOpen

Whether you are a beginner, an intermediate or advanced student you need to constantly increase your vocabulary. By learning new vocabulary you create variety in your speech repertoire. So how can we learn new words?

Flashcards are a great tool because they engage us in active recall by making us repeat. They allow us to personalize our learning experience by allowing us to choose the vocabulary we want to learn and when we want to study. They also help us learn over a period of time and to track our progress. Flashcards use senses, seeing, hearing and touching, depending on the type of flashcard, paper or online. Flashcards are easy to use. Flashcards use spaced repetition. Spaced repetition is a learning technique that increases intervals of time between new words and old words. New words will be repeated more often than old words.

Flashcards: Here you can go old-school and use index cards to create flashcards by writing the target language (the language you wish to learn) on one side and the source language (your native language) on the other side. Since context is so important to what a specific word means I would also include a sentence in which you would use the word. This will help clarify the meaning and help you memorize it.

Another option for flashcards is to use pictures. Remembering pictures are easier than remembering words. An even better technique is to use pictures and words together.

Comprehension Flashcards are cards that focus on one word/picture.

Production Flashcards are cards that require you to respond such as “Name 3 days of the week” response: “Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday”.

Production cards create an association and require you to remember grammatical features, spelling, and pronunciation.

flashcards

TIPS:

Remember whether you use comprehension or production flashcards to keep definitions simple.

Write how to pronounce the words on the card.

 

The following are a few of the popular web sites and apps for creating flashcards. In the past I have used quizlet extensively and I love it, but I think I’m going to check out the others.

Voxy.com  –  creates photo flashcards on your iphone

ankisrs.net – creates free online flashcards where you can embed visual or audio

brainscape.com – creates free online flashcards where you can embed visual or audio. Uses confidence-based repetition. Learning is highly targeted and personalized.

fluentu.com –  takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons with flashcards.

studyblue.com –  options to add text, pictures and audio to your cards, but you’re also given stats, search options, reminders and a study saver

Cram.com – create your own flashcards or use someone else’s.  Can shuffle order, alphabetize, view either side first, hear pronunciation, ability to sort answers by correct or incorrect, test, games

quizlet.com – create your own flashcards or use someone else’s.  Can shuffle order, alphabetize, view either side first, hear pronunciation, test, games

kitzkikz.com – Make your own flash cards and study aids. Print, Cut, Fold, and Study

many flashcards

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