How To Learn New Vocabulary
Start early. Don’t wait until the night before the test to start studying the words. Start studying as soon as you are given the vocabulary list and then you can review a little each day. Learning in small increments is much easier and you will retain much more if you study over a period of time. Repetition is the key to learning.
Make note cards for your vocabulary words. On one side, write the word, on the other, write the definition. For a more visual effect, draw or attach an image to help you remember the word. For example, if the word is “cherub,” attach a small clip-art image of a cherub next to the written word. Making the word-picture connection is one of the basic steps of learning new words. Some people are visual learners - they learn best by seeing something over and over.
Find a partner or helper. Ask someone to call out the words to you, and you answer with the definition. Or, have them ask the definition and you answer with the correct word. Some people are auditory learners – they remember things best when they hear them.
Write the words over and over on a chalkboard, dry erase board, or on paper. Use colored markers to make it fun for kids. Some people are kinesthetic learners – they learn and remember best by writing something again and again.
Use memory tricks. For example, let’s say that the words “synonym” and “antonym” are on the vocabulary list. A synonym is a word that has a similar meaning to another word. An antonym is a word that has an opposite meaning. You can create a memory trick that the “S” in synonym means “same.” Another example are the words "stalagmite stalactite." Stalagmites are the cylindrical calcium deposits on the floor or GROUND of a cave, stalactites are the cylindrical calcium deposits hanging from the CEILING of a cave. You will see that stalagmites has a G in it - for GROUND, stalactites has a C in it - for ceiling. Memory tricks!
Understand Latin root words. Much of the English language is derived from Latin. Knowing Latin root words can help you figure out the meaning of a word. For example, the words recognize, cognitive, and incognito all come from the Latin word “cognoscere” which means “to know.” Recognize literally means “to know again,” cognitive means “the process of knowing,” and “incognito” means “to conceal identity, or unknown.” Learning Latin roots can really pay off when remembering the definitions of new words.
Create tests and play games. You can make up tests (for yourself or your child) with matching, fill in the blank, or multiple choice style questions. Use the flash cards creatively by spreading them out on a table and quizzing yourself. Again, repetition and practice is the key to fast learning.
Use the new words daily. Try to use the new words in your daily conversations, emails, or even in your thoughts. If you are helping your child learn, use the words when you are talking to them. Incorporating the new word into your daily vocabulary will make it stick in your mind.