Difficulty in remembering new words is a problem that everyone who is learning foreign languages has. It is hard, especially at the beginning when your vocabulary is limited and insufficient for comfortable communication and reading.
Why does this happen? Maybe because we do not do anything to remember new words.
Usually when we see a new word, we try to find the translation and then stop working with it. Soon we see the same word again, but we don't even remember that we've already found it earlier, and we have to search for it again. Have you ever looked for the translation of the same word ten times? Ever been faced with a word that you just looked up, yet can't remember its translation now? It could make anyone mad, couldn't it? :)
In order to save your time, I want to share with you an easy seven-step method that will definitely help you widen your vocabulary in Russian--or any language.
Step #1: Choose a book that matches the level of your language proficiency. You can ask your teacher to help you find a book or you can do it by yourself. It shouldn't be too difficult to read, but it should still offer new words for you and also provoke your interest, which is the most important thing to keep your motivation going. You can start with the books written by Chekhov, Bunin, Tolstoy and Bulgakov for example. Read a short part of the book every day. Ten to twenty minutes of reading is enough, but if you want to read more, you are more than welcome.
Step #2: Underline new words while reading, look for their meaning in the dictionary and immediately write new words with their translation in the margins. Writing by hand makes you awaken your mechanical memory, which automatically helps you to remember.
Step #3: Write down new words in a special word-book straight after reading. You can use a special word-book that you can find in stationery shops or simply divide your usual notebook's pages in half with a line and record your vocabulary in Russian that way.
Step #4: Have your word-book available on your table and look in it every day. You can just read words and their meanings. That will be a task! But it's more efficient and useful if you also play with your word-book. First, cover the meanings with a piece of paper and try to recall the translation of each new word. Move the piece of paper down word by word and check yourself. Then uncover the meanings and cover the new words and do the same. Try to recall them and check them. It will help you to check yourself and also to remember more new words.
Step #5: Then imagine yourself as a comic storyteller or writer. Create several sentences with the new vocabulary in Russian. Try to use the sentences in a story. The less logical and more comical your story, the better! You can also try to use grammatical constructions that you've studied recently to “kill two birds with one stone”. It will help you to start using new words in your everyday speech, and also to remember more new words. Write your story down in order to use your mechanical memory again.
Step #6: Show your story to your teacher to check your mistakes and then analyze them. It doesn't help you to remember new words, but it helps you to use them correctly and avoid future mistakes.
Step #7: During a class, retell your story to your teacher and discuss it together. Try to use as many new words as you can during your retelling. If you don't look at the text of your story and can retell it without reading, that's great! It is easier to remember a funny story than plain words, disjointed phrases or a meager and boring text. But, if you need to peep at the text sometimes, don't hesitate to do it. It is absolutely fine.
Now open your notebook with the new words again and check how many you remember. More than before, right? Or maybe all of them? Great job! You are ready to start reading the next short part of the book and repeat the methodology again.
It would be also great if you do Step #4 once a week for all the new words that you've been studying during a week.
Thank you for reading my article until the end. Now, I would like you to go and try this method to increase your vocabulary in Russian, or whatever language you're learning!
I would appreciate it if you write your results in the comments section or share what helps you to remember new words.