“Without grammar, very little can be conveyed; without vocabulary nothing can be conveyed.” — David Wilkins (a renowned British linguist).
It might sound obvious, but learning vocabulary is the most crucial part of learning any language. It is easy to overlook this fact when you are knee deep in learning grammar.
Of course you can paraphrase when you do not know a certain word, although it should be your goal to acquire vocabulary beforehand. Paraphrasing should be viewed as a temporary crutch to be used in the process of mastering one’s language skills and not as a permanent solution.
Let’s assume, for instance, that you do not know the word for ‘spoon’ - perhaps you could paraphrase in a rudimentary way by saying ‘the metal thing for eating food,’ although such an explanation could also be mistaken for various other utensils and you could end up spending countless minutes trying to clarify the definition of an unknown word.
If you are serious about learning a language to a high standard, you need to have a strategy to acquire as many words as possible. Whilst watching TV shows and reading books in your target language should also be a key part of your language learning experience, you nonetheless need to have a structured approach to acquiring vocabulary.
One may argue that children do not themselves use a particularly structured and organised approach in acquiring their native language, however one needs to take into consideration the fact that children have considerably more free time than adults and the fact that most children are fully immersed in surroundings in which their native tongue is spoken. If you are not fully immersed in your target language then, as previously mentioned, you need to have a structured language learning plan, otherwise you will be floundering in the dark, patchily acquiring random vocabulary and grammar concepts here and there and you will likely become demotivated.
Reading a dictionary from start to finish is probably not going to be a viable solution for you. This is because our brains need context and/or other stimulation in order to digest and store information into long term memory. It is advisable to create or find words lists that are classified by theme, for instance ‘cars and driving’ and ‘kitchen items’, as this allows your brain to visualise scenarios in which given words are used in an organised and structured manner.
When reviewing your themed word lists, do not merely read and repeat the words, but instead allow yourself to become fully immersed in a visualisation experience. Try to engage as many senses as your mind allows; the goal is to get your brain to form deep sensual connections with the words at hand. Many people attest to the efficacy of using mnemonics when learning new words, which could also be used in conjunction with visualisation exercises.
In order to effectively store words into your long term memory, you should adopt what is called a spaced repetition learning approach, whereby you cyclically review and visualise words at spaced time intervals, the intervals being spaced out at least a week between one another. It could take around seven review cycles to fully memorise a word, although the amount of review cycles can vary depending on how much of a sensual or emotional connection you have developed with a given word.
The best time to review words is when you feel the need to scroll through Instagram or when you are waiting for something. Ideally you want to be at the place where learning words becomes your hobby and your distraction from the mundanities of life. Learning new words should be like a video game for you, where you constantly strive to get to the next level.
You could carry a word list book around with you, however it is far more practical to use a spaced repetition flashcard app, which allows you to track your progress from the comfort of your smartphone. There are many apps available, including Anki (IOS, Android), Brainscape (IOS, Android) and Quizlet (IOS, Android). Personally, I prefer the Brainscape app, as this app has a colour coded system which allows you to track your performance. However, you might prefer the structure of another app, so be sure to try out as many apps as possible before committing to a particular flashcard app.
You could use pre-programmed word lists provided by the various app companies, however I personally prefer to program the word lists myself, as this process further instills the vocabulary in my memory, although it should be noted that this is an extremely time-consuming process.
I have personally created many English-Russian language word lists on a range of subjects and this is a task that I intend to continue well into the future. Feel free to ask about my lists for inspiration and good luck on your vocabulary learning journey!
Оставьте заявку и мы подберём удобное расписание для обучения у этого преподавателя.