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How to learn vocabulary effectively?

How to learn vocabulary effectively?

Today I’ll write an article about how to use an association, which is a visualization tool for learning vocabulary in a foreign language. A well done association allows to remember a word for a very, very long time. In addition, it is a good exercise for your imagination as well as fun.

Creating an association is a tool that uses the knowledge of NLP and is based on associating a given word with some object, event or another word. Such an association is consolidated in our memory in the form of a visualization that influences every sense.


If you don’t know how to effectively visualize, read about it in this article.

Performing an association takes about 1 minute. During this time, you imagine a given association most intensively. You’re trying to hear voices, feel the touch of objects, notice the smells, see the bright colors and large, moving images. A minute of such an association will be recorded in your memory very effectively as it’s saved in different brain areas (each sense is processed elsewhere). So you can permanently learn up to 100 words in just 1 hour and 40 minutes!

In order for you to understand what it all is about I’ll give you a few associations made by me based on Spanish vocabulary:

el pollo (chicken) – imagine a henhouse full of chickens, each of which is wearing a polo shirt (a shirt with a collar). See the colors of each of them, hear the sounds made by each chicken.

la cena (dinner) – imagine a plate, cutlery, and a typical setting in which you always eat dinner. See a large sticker on the plate with a price tag written on it such as those on the products in stores. Imagine that you cut and eat it.

el cartero (postman) – think of a postman who, instead of delivering letters, is playing cards with each person in the house he visits. Now, think about the game he’s playing, what cards he has and whether he wins or not. See him in your mind with every single detail.

lavarse (to wash) – see how, when turning on the tap in your bathroom to wash your hands, lava, instead of water, is flowing. Feel how it’s burning your hands, see its color and smell.

If you imagine each of these things, you’ll be four Spanish words ahead ;)

When no obvious association comes to your mind, make an absurd, even silly one. It doesn’t matter whether it actually has something to do with this very word or not. It’s important that it has an association for you. Use as much humor as possible, it really favors memorizing. Why?

A memory center (hippocampus) located in our brain is also responsible for emotions. When the emotions are positive, we remember things better and longer.

Of course, from time to time the new words are worth repeating, especially if you learn a lot of words at once. Now, during such a revision you’ll just spend only about 10-15 seconds on each association.

Besides making the association, I always use the so-called “flashcards”. These are small, rectangular cards on both sides of which I write a given word. On one side in Polish, and on the other in a foreign language. Then I look through these cards and make associations. When I make them for all the words, I check whether I remember them all. Then again I look through all the cards always looking first at the word in Polish. It works great for me!

How does it work for you?


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