One of the most difficult challenges when starting out to learn a foreign language is to reach a basic level in terms of the amount of vocabulary. It is clear that you need to have a word base to be able to form sentences and reach fluency. One of the common mistakes is to try to memorize too much vocabulary at a time, for example 100 a week are too many for the majority of people, especially people who are not seasoned language learners.

In our experience. we have realized that it is much more effective to learn a word as a phrase, for example, remembering the phrasal verb “LOOK FORWARD TO” can be difficult. However, if you put it into a context like “I am looking forward to going on holiday”. It can be remembered more easily, and not only that, you will be able to use it in context with ease. A key point of this method is to avoid translating as soon as possible and to try to link new words to synonyms and create a language learning web in your mind to relate new words to existing knowledge.


We suggest learning vocabulary based on The 5+ Standard:

When a student sets a challenge, it has to be attainable. We suggest that students should try to learn 5 words a day with example sentences. To assimilate them, they must repeat the same words the next day and add 5 more. This process is repeated every day and in this way, students can learn 35 words a week. 155 a month and 1825 words each year. With this amount of vocabulary, people can start to reach the levels of vocabulary they need to get towards an advanced level.


How does it work? 

Learners need to learn 5 words + synonym (the sooner people stop translating, the better). Then the learner should write 3-5 sentences in context. These sentences need to be useful and it is better to vary the use of tenses and the +/-/?


For example: Travel vocabulary


Book = reserve

I need to book our holiday for next year. I didn´t book the Hilton hotel in the end as it was expensive. Have you booked the flights to Berlin yet?


Arrange = organise

I am arranging my round-the-world trip at the moment. I have made some of the travel arrangements through an agency. I should arrange my accommodation as soon as possible.


Set off = start a trip

What time are we setting off tomorrow? I always set off early to avoid the traffic. We didn´t set off until late because we slept in. 


Get by = survive in a language

I can get by in German. I can´t get by in French. It is great when you can get by in a foreign language.


Check out = have a look

I want to check out the new exhibition at the British museum. Have you checked the Tate Modern out yet? We are going to check out Camden Town market tomorrow.


The importance of reviewing and recycling vocabulary:

It is essential to review and go over vocabulary each day to internalise it. See our model to learn how to do this.


Monday – 5 new words

Tuesday – review the 5 words from Monday + 5 new words

Wednesday – review the 5 words from Tuesday + 5 new words

Thursday – review the 5 words from Wednesday + 5 new words

Friday – review the 5 words from Thursday + 5 new words

Saturday – review the 5 words from Friday + 5 new words

Sunday – review the 5 words from Saturday + 5 new words


The numbers: How many words will you learn?


Day = 5

Week = 35

Month = 140-155

Year = 1825


It is important to understand that when you begin, 5 words a days will be a sufficient amount, but after some time you might want to increase the amount of words to first 10 then probably 15 words a day. This way you can reach an advanced level within an academic year.


With around 2500-4000 words, a person can speak at a B2 level. The key is knowing how to use these words in context and not just translating them.

A2 – 500-1000 words

B1 – 1000-2000 words

B2 – 2500-4000 words

C1 – up to 7000 words



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