Do you study Spanish but find it hard to memorize the vocabulary? I can help you discover how to remember vocabulary easily with these 7 practical tips.
Memorize each noun with its article, and in its context!
You already know that in Spanish nouns have a gender, so you need to try to learn the vocabulary without forgetting the articles that go before the words.
Try to invent an example which uses the word you want to memorize, and then imagine the situation. When we create a context for the word, it is much easier to memorize it.
If you want to go a step further, try to make that context a real situation. If, for example, you are learning vocabulary in Spanish related to speaking in a restaurant, then try to use those phrases in real life.
Maybe you aren’t lucky enough to be in a Spanish-speaking country, but remember that you can always look for exchange classes near you, or, alternatively, you can practice online with me. In these classes you’ll be able to use all the Spanish vocabulary that you want to learn, because usage is the key to remembering!
Learn words that have a connection with each other
Learn vocabulary in Spanish that’s all related to the same topic.
If you learn clothing vocabulary, for example, first of all make a list of all the items. A good trick is to write the names of the items, and, at the same time, to think of an item of clothing that you have.
For example, when you want to learn the word ‘trousers’, think of your favorite trousers and say the word in Spanish at the same time. Thinking about an object you have will enable you to remember the vocabulary much more easily.
You can also group words together that all have the same root. In this way you will learn several words at a time, for example: study, student and studious.
Use word associations and acronyms to remember new words
Sometimes the most absurd word games are the ones that’ll help you memorize the most difficult vocabulary. If, for example, you have trouble learning some animal names in Spanish, use the acronym ANIMAL, and then apply it to some animal names in Spanish, for example Asno, Nutria, Iguana, Mono, Alce and Lobo. (If you don’t know them you can look them up!)
Write the vocabulary and, most importantly, repeat the words out loud!
It’s true that writing is always a good way of learning vocabulary. But try to go beyond simply making lists of the the new words in Spanish that you want to learn. Try making flash cards using the words with examples or descriptons.
It’s also a very helpful exercise to put post-it notes on the objects around the house that you want to learn. However, keep in mind that you must say the words out loud, and, from time to time change the post-its and put them on other words. That’s because, as time goes by, you’ll get used to those notes and you’ll start to ignore them.
Invent a ‘memory palace’
To learn vocabulary in Spanish there is another very useful resource: a “memory palace”.
What is this learning tool? Firstly, you have to choose a place that you know well: your house, the building where you work, etc. Then you have to think about that physical area, and place in it mental images of the word associations you make with the Spanish words that you want to learn.
It’s important that the images that you put in the rooms of your memory palace are either large, dramatic or absurd, because that will help you to learn much more vividly.
What’s the most important thing about this technique? You’re going to make an imaginary tour of this place that you know so well. The ideal thing is to take a mental tour five times on the first day, five more times on the second, and for as long as you want.
I recommend that you make that mental tour before going to sleep, when the brain is able to remember what you want to learn a lot better.
Memorize word combinations with Quizlet
Quizlet is a very practical tool to learn all kinds of vocabulary.
It is a web page where you can create lessons yourself and, in each one, make index cards that relate words.
Imagine that you want to create cards to practice combinations of words that are difficult to memorize, for example “to ask a question, satisfy hunger, a garlic clove, etc.”. Using the word relationships you want to learn, Quizlet creates different activities to practice with that vocabulary in Spanish and, when you practice the words, you’ll learn them in a more entertaining way, without getting bored with endless lists of words.
Lexical combinations and idiomatic expressions usually give students problems, due to the fact they are set expressions that must be retained in the memory. That’s why working with Quizlet can be really useful.
Learn phrases to remember similar words
If, for example, you are studying food vocabulary, and you want to learn the Spanish word ‘masa’ (dough), you can repeat the phrase “I make the dough with my hands on a table (‘mesa’)”. Thanks to this phrase you can easily imagine the situation and understand the differences in meaning between the two similar words (“mesa” and “masa”). Also, if you already knew the word ‘mesa’, it will help you remember the new word that you are trying to retain in your memory, because of them both sounding so similar.
As a teacher, I recommend that you learn vocabulary in Spanish using the most effective memorizing method for you. There are those who repeat words out loud aloud time after time, and there are others who prefer to have a visual image of those words.
Finally, remember that the best way to memorize the words is to pracitice the new vocabulary in Spanish using many different activities. Put all this into practice with me and you’ll find it much more fun than studying alone!