How to memorize 50 new English words daily

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Modern English teachers claim that rote memorization of words is inefficient. It’s said you could learn 100 words a day, but a week later, 90 of them will be forgotten. This is partly true. Words need to be learned with an understanding of their meaning, complemented by grammar and stylistics. Considering these recommendations, many have developed ways to quickly memorize words and retain them in the future.

In this article, you’ll learn about such methods, which will help you to learn 50 new words daily.

Why Do We Forget Words?

Hermann Ebbinghaus, a German psychologist, researched memory. He used a method of studying nonsensical syllables, consisting of two consonants with a vowel in between, to eliminate semantic associations. His experiments revealed that information is rapidly forgotten after the first error-free repetition: up to 60% of information is lost in the first hour, and only 35% remains after 10 hours. After six days, about 20% of the material remains in memory, which persists for a month.

As a result, in 1885 he drew a diagram showing that multiple repetitions are important for improving memorization. For long-term retention, it’s necessary to repeat the material at least five times: 20-30 minutes after learning, then a few hours later, the next day, after 1-2 weeks, and finally after 2-3 months.

However, this method needs to be supplemented with others to achieve the desired language learning outcome.

The Method of Associations

Mnemonics, a method of memorization based on creating visual links, is becoming increasingly popular. This method involves linking a word with its meaning through visual images. Studies show that visual connections are most effectively formed in the human brain. This method has ancient roots—used by the ancient Greeks, including the philosopher Socrates.

Mnemonics work effectively thanks to the visual parts of the brain, which contain many neurons. Each word can be represented as a specific picture, creating neural connections that associate the word with the image. These associations provide quick access to information, for example, recalling the situation when hearing a familiar song for the first time. With regular mnemonics training, one can memorize 100 to 300 words per session.

The mnemonic algorithm consists of the following steps:

  1. Create a vivid and concrete mental image for the word you’re learning. For example, visualize a clenched fist for the English word “fist.”
  2. Associate the English word with a unique or humorous concept that sounds similar or is easy to link. This can be an object, action, or any memorable idea. The more distinctive and amusing the association, the better for memorization.
  3. Combine this association with your mental image. For instance, to remember the word “crown,” you could picture a large crane hoisting a royal crown. Employing large, exaggerated objects or scenarios, and adding sounds or music, can enhance memory retention.
  4. Repeat the English word aloud 4-5 times, gently shifting your gaze upwards. This eye movement is thought to engage more neurons, aiding in memory retention.
  5. Revisit the words after an hour or two, the following day, and then again after a month. Effectively created associations can remain in your memory for a long time, enabling long-term recall of the words.

The Flashcard Method

You can buy special flashcards with English words and meaningful pictures at bookstores. Every day, you can pick 50 random cards and learn them using the association method. It’s important that the words are not in alphabetical order, as their pronunciation might get mixed up in your head. If they are different words, they are easier to remember.

A set of flashcards can consist of 1,000, 5,000, or even 10,000 pieces (though there are more than 270,000 words in English). Divide the pack randomly into 50 pieces each day. When they are all finished, mix them up and repeat. This way, you will return to each word approximately once every 1-2 months, following Hermann Ebbinghaus’s rule.

Dividing Words by Themes

Another effective way to remember many words is to divide them into groups and meanings. For example, come up with 30 themes (one for each day of the month). Learn 50 words from that theme. On Monday, learn words about finance and economics, on Tuesday about engines and cars, on Wednesday about IT and blockchain, and so on. This way, you will cover all the topics in a month and form a comprehensive vocabulary.

Conclusion

Once you achieve the goal of learning 50 English words a day, your next task is to remember them. To reinforce your knowledge, immerse yourself in reading in English or listening to audiobooks. Consider various online courses or subscribe to the page of an American blogger you find interesting. It’s important that these activities are related to the words you recently learned. Also, the content you read or listen to must be genuinely interesting to you. If you don’t like the topic, there’s no point in forcing yourself.

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