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15 / 01 / 2009

LEARNING VOCABULARY-1: meaning and examples

Good morning.

Almost everything you do with English exposes you to new words and helps you improve your vocabulary: reading, watching original-version movies, writing, etc. However, if you really want to pass new words to long-term memory, you must actively do something with them. You can't just write them down in your notebook and expect them to be automatically memorised.

Today and next week we will review a few ideas that can help to pass new vocabulary into long-term memory.

Word Bank
One of my favourite tools for learning and organising new vocabulary is a word bank. This is a document, notebook or folder where you record new words into different meaning categories. Neuro-linguistic studies have shown that our brain remembers words in semantic groups (or meaning categories). In other words, we remember similar words together. For example, the word "apple" is stored near "orange" and "banana" and other fruits, not with "bicycle." Relating new words with already-known words will help you to pass them to long-term memory.

If you would like a very simple model of a word bank, send an email to with the words "Word Bank" in the subject (asunto) field.

Flash Cards
Putting new words on small flash cards (tarjetas) to review them at just about anytime during the day can be very helpful. Cut a DIN A4 piece of paper into 16 pieces (of approximately 7.5cm x 5.0cm). On one side of each paper write the new English word. On the opposite side write the translation and/or a sentence using the word. You can use these flash cards to quickly test yourself throughout the day, since they are easy to carry with you.

I hope you find these ideas helpful. On Monday we will look at a couple of more ideas. If you have any ideas that have helped you to learn new vocabulary, please tell us about them in the Daily Vitamin Plus! forum section on our website (

Enjoy the rest of your day!