Lesson #115: Some Tips for Memorising Even More Vocabulary

When we are learning a language, we often memorise new vocabulary by using flashcards or repeatedly writing out lists of words.

Those methods can be helpful, but not everyone can recall afterwards what they have so laboriously studied! πŸ€”

A French teacher once shared a very helpful tip with me and I want to share it since it also works when learning English. 

πŸ‘‰ TIP # 1: Try to memorise new words in PAIRS. 

So if you are looking at the photograph collage in this post, and you notice that some flower petals or leaves are in contrasting colours (such as yellow and green side-by-side, or white or purple petals surrounding a yellow eye), you might want to learn the words ‘white’ and ‘yellow’ together, or even ‘mauve’ and ‘beige’ together, for example.

This tip works particularly well with opposite words such as ‘angry’ versus ‘calm’, or ‘above’ versus ‘beneath/below’, or ‘exhaustion’ versus ‘energy’. 

A good way to begin is to memorise adjectives in pairs, nouns in pairs, and so forth. Later on, if you are feeling ambitious, you can try to memorise some nouns and adverbs that relate to the same pair of adjectives that you memorised, so for example:

* workaholic VS lazy

* hard work, diligence, industriousness VS laziness, indolence, slothfulness

* diligently, actively, energetically, industriously VS lazily, indolently, sluggishly, remissly

πŸ“– Here is an example from literature, specifically from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet (the emphasis here is my own):

‘My only LOVE, sprung from my only HATE!
Too EARLY seen unknown, and known too LATE!’

– William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet (1.5.147-150)

πŸ‘‰ TIP # 2: Use a thesaurus to help you find the antonyms (words that denote the opposite of something) and synonyms.

I personally like the Visual Thesaurus online, but any good dictionary will probably at least include antonyms.

I hope this helps on your language learning journey!

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by Joyce E. Gibbons

English language tutor and researcher at 'Learn English Through Literature' (2021)