Memorising new vocabulary


Hi everyone,

Anyone who has tried learning a second language will testify to the following problem; You are mid-conversation and just about to make an important point when … blank… a key word that you need to express yourself just won’t come to mind! You stall, you stutter, you lose your flow and the conversation suffers as a result. It’s even more frustrating when the word in question is one that you KNOW you have studied and used correctly in the past but just when you need it to complete a point you are making, perhaps to woo a handsome stranger or to talk yourself out of a parking ticket it just… won’t…. come!!!


Well fear no more! Today’s blog will look at how you can use flashcard applications to help you to remember both new and old vocabulary. When combined with regular speaking practice these apps absolutely improve your ability to recall vocabulary when needed, however I am often surprised at how many of my students don’t use them.


Tip 1 > Download a flashcard application

There are many flashcard applications on the market. I use Flashcards Deluxe to learn Spanish vocabulary but there are many other apps available. Some of them, such as Anki, allow you to download other people’s flashcards. The process of inputting your own cards is very simple:

  • Download the flashcard app for your cellphone
  • Create folders for your new vocabulary as you learn it (verbs , adjectives, shopping, travel, phrases etc)
  • Create a flashcard > On side 1 of the card input the word in your native language.
  • On side 2 input the word in your target language.
  • On side 3 you should write a sample sentence / phrase / collocation in the target language that includes the vocabulary.
  • Fix the settings of the folder to ´spaced repetition method’. This is very important.
  • Fix settings so that side 1 of the flashcard (your native language) shows first.
  • Follow the instructions on the app and start learning!

Most studies agree that it is essential to repeat or practice a new set of words immediately after being exposed to them. Repetition should follow at progressively longer intervals.

  • Input new words into your application immediately after you have learned them.
  • Review them again a few hours later.
  • Review them again one day later
  • Review them one week later (general review of words learned in the previous week)
  • Review at regular intervals using spaced repetition method on your app.
  • Practice out loud when you can. Studies have shown that reading aloud is more effective in improving retention.


Remember, when learning new vocabulary always learn words in context, always input sample sentences and focus on HIGH-FREQUENCY words at first.


TIP 2 > Increase your Output


Now that you have increased the amount of vocabulary that you know and your ability to recollect it, it is time to start using it! Memorizing flashcards is a useless exercise unless you use what you learned! After you have spent some time reviewing flashcards, you should do the following:


  • Speak to yourself. No, I’m not crazy! Every English dialogue that you have in your own head increases the time your brain spends using your target language. Practice imaginary conversations in English, speak to the dog in English, plan your day ahead in English, write your daily diary in English… do whatever it takes to keep vocabulary fresh in your mind.


  • There are a number of language exchange apps on the internet that are completely free. They allow you to connect with people who are native English speakers and want to learn YOUR native language! Tandem is one such application, the interface of the app is like WhatsApp; you can text, send voice messages or call your language exchange partner. It is an excellent way to meet new people, learn about new cultures and use that new vocabulary in a social setting with real people!


  • Of course, the best way to use the new vocabulary you have learned is through conversation with a professional tutor. An experienced tutor will have the ability to guide the conversation in a way that challenges you to use more advanced vocabulary. They will push and encourage you to express yourself in ways that will really improve your confidence with the English language. Detailed feedback will also help to pinpoint any areas where you need extra help.
  • Luckily for you, we have highly experienced and professional tutors here at who are ready to help you bring your English  to the next level!


If you have any questions about how to integrate flashcard applications into your learning schedule, just send us a message. We will be happy to help you.


Good luck!


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