Why is it difficult to learn new words?
It is commonly believed that a person cannot memorize a language, they have to live the language. This is just another way of saying that a language is more practical than it is theoretical. We learn a language by using it in context. This is very apparent in the learning of new vocabulary. It is impossible to memorize all of the vocabulary you will need because the sheer amount is too large, and you need to come up with strategies to link words to feelings, experiences and contexts.
This can be observed with the list of Irregular past verbs
What stategies can I use to learn effectively?
There are several things a person can do to improve their language aquisition. Most of them are based on Mnemonics and involve the use of context to learn effectively. The one take home message you should always remember is that it is easier to remember a phrase than an individual word, therefore, you must always write and say phrases with new words. Here are some examples:
A great way is to put verbs into groups and use them in context. You should focus first on the verbs that never change for example HIT/HIT/HIT or PUT/PUT/PUT. Then you should focus on verbs with similarities.
High frequency first – low frequency
You should try to start with the verbs that you will use most often, such as: DO, MAKE, EAT, DRINK, SEE and make sure you can use them in context and then later move on to the verbs you will use less often.
The most high frequency verbs:
DO – DID
DRINK – DRANK
EAT – ATE
GIVE – GAVE
GO – WENT
HAVE – HAD
MAKE – MADE
SAY – SAID
SEE – SAW
SLEEP – SLEPT
SPEND – SPENT
TELL – TOLD
WEAR – WORE
You need to group verbs based on their pronunication, especially with Regular past verbs
Learn through examples
As we have said earlier, it is much easier to learn a sentence in context than random words, therefore, you should always write new words in phrases that you will actually use. Take a look at our 5+ rule for vocabulary aquisition to make sure you are doing this effectively.
Some people seem to believe that repeating words is a waste of time, but the opposite is true. You need to repeat words using the 4 key skills (reading, listening, writing and speaking) to consolidate them and use them without having to think about it too much.
Take home message for all learners
The key to learning new vocabulary is to do it little by little and not try to memorize long lists. It is essential to be organized and to use a notebook in order to be able to review what you have seen. The key is to dosify your learning and learn in bitesize chunks. We recommend 15-30 minutes each day.