Here are five more tips I can give you on how to learn and retain new vocabulary.
6. Be active on the Internet
If you are stuck for foreign interlocutors, then there is only one place you can go where you are guaranteed to find people from all over the world: the www. As I wrote last week, you need to practise if you want to remember. Are you a regular member of rugby games forums? How about checking what is being written in other countries – in other languages? What do the XV de France supporters say about the All Blacks? You will be confronted to a lot of colloquial French (and, granted, grammar mistakes too), but you still get to speak your mind on there – and in French!
7. Listen to music
This is probably my favourite way of learning. Being a big music fan, I can listen to the same song or CD for hours. Needless to say, after a few times you know most of the songs by heart and, of course, the lyrics. Do not hesitate to listen to the song while reading the text. Some singers do not articulate much and it would definitely help you making out the words. It is also nice to know what your favourite singers sing, even though you may be somewhat disappointed…
8. Focus on funny words
You cannot learn every single word in the dictionary, so take that off your “to-do” list. Instead of going crazy trying to read your Vox through, just pick words that appeal to you. Some words are easier to remember because you can picture them easily, i.e. unusual combination of letter. Some other words can be hilarious false-friends; these are not easy to forget! One example that led to more than one misunderstanding is the German word “Pute”, which means “turkey.” The same word in French has a completely different meaning…
9. Play games on the Internet
It’s free, it’s fun and it’s educational. What more can you ask for? Crosswords, memory games, hangman, the list is endless! Instead of taking your 15-minute break gazing aimlessly at Facebook (I know you do it), go for a quick spelling game. It’s a better time investment and a very good way to unwind your brains. You will find plenty of websites offering such activities, but here is a good place to start.
10. Be creative
The nine previous points are all tricks that have worked for me, but you could very well find other ways of learning and remembering words. Each of us has different recipes. I know some who stick pieces of paper on the wall. Some record series of words and listen to them over and over. I like funny associations. I used to mix up the German words “Leder” (leather) and “Leber” (liver). Quite fortunately the word “Feder” (feather) is semantically similar to leather and helps me remembering what is what – leather/feather – Leder/Feder. Do you see the analogy? Bear in mind the best mnemonic devices are the silliest ones!