An effective guide to building up your vocabulary in a foreign language (part 2)

An effective guide to building up your vocabulary in a foreign language
As I previously said in the first post about vocabulary, I’m going to break every method and see if it is worthy or not. However, every method has its ups and downs, and may not be suitable for everyone (so take everything I say with a grain of salt).
More importantly, don’t discourage yourself! Vocabulary is a hard thing to build up, and it will take time. It just matters how you can use that time to develop your vocabulary. You may even try a combination of more methods, there is no simple key to it.
You may use my results as a sort of indicator, and you are more than welcomed to conduct the same experiment and share your results too.
An effective guide to building up your vocabulary in a foreign language (part 2)
Before reviewing the first method, I will show you my data.
1. Environment: I’m studying the language at the university:10 hours (courses) + 4 hours (homework), so 14 hours per week. Sometimes I listen to music or watch something in that language, so another 1 hour.
2. Time: Roughly 14-15 hours per week.
3. The language: Dutch (current level: A2-B1). There are some similarities with English, but none with Romanian (as far as I remember). It has compound words, so it might be helpful to learn the words separately and then together (although, not applicable in every case). That means that I already possess a basic vocabulary.
4. The reason: I want to use them in day-to-day conversation, or for writing or reading exercises during my courses. That means long-term usage.
Method #1: Memory techniques
If you do not know what it means, you can check my previous post and then come back to this post.
How I did it?
My time for learning the words was 1 week, and the number of words was 10. You should spread your words through days or weeks, depending on your schedule (so that you can make some space repetition too).
My 10 words were: druk (stress, crowded), redelijk (reasonable), soepel (supple, flexible), geweldig (great), behoorlijk (sufficient), drijven (to float), bètavakken (science subjects), voeren (to carry on a conversation), bedienen (to serve), bewonderen (to admire).
Disclaimer: words have different meanings depending on the context. In this case, my words are context-bounded, so the definition from the dictionary may be a bit different or not the first that you see.
These are the associations for the words, some of them funnier than others, some in English and others in Dutch:
An effective guide to building up your vocabulary in a foreign language (part 2)
Ok, but did it work?
I’d say yes and no. It depends. Although, I lean more towards no.
I think the method is time-consuming. I spend quite some time coming up with different associations and phrases (which I think I could’ve spent better). It took me around 30-35 minutes for 10 words. I cannot imagine doing the same thing for 50 or 60 words.
In day-to-day conversation, it did not work. I did not have many opportunities to use them, but it takes some time to think about what you want to say, then think about the association, then remember the word. In writing or reading, I’d say it was a bit better providing I have more time to think.
I consider that some associations and phrases can be done a bit better, and maybe it will feel more effective. I advise you to do more research on this if you want to use it.
I think I memorize 5 words out of 10 in the beginning. After quite 2 weeks, 2 weeks and a half I remember 3 words which is a bit discouraging.
For me, this method does not work. It is time-consuming, and I think I should do space repetition more often than I have time in order to see an effect. I did not enjoy it, although it was a bit funny to come up with strange phrases.
If you want to use it, use it when you have quite a lot of time to learn words. The more you read the associations and phrases, the better. I think frequency is the key to make it effective. Try not to force yourself by creating such weird associations that you cannot remember them.

An effective guide to building up your vocabulary in a foreign language


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