The more connections we can form with a new word, the higher the chances of remembering them in the future. For example, I have just come across the word "digest" in an article.
There are several definitions from an online dictionary for that word:
1. to break down (food) in the alimentary canal into substances that can be absorbed and used by the body.
2. a compilation or summary of material or information.
I will think of a theme that I can use for this word. For Definition 1, I can think of the theme of "nutrition", since my body needs to "digest" food in order to have proper nutrition. Next, I can think of five words or phrases under the theme of "nutrition". This helps me to remember the meaning of "digest" by association. Examples: stomach, gastric juices, protein, saliva and carbohydrates.
I would also want to remember the meaning by familiarisation. I will try to form a few sentences over the next few days on italki, and let native speakers correct me if necessary.
Examples: Our saliva digests food. / Protein is broken down when our bodies digest meat.
Therefore, we learn better by using themes, association and forming sentences to familiarise ourselves with its usage.
For Definition #2, I'll go faster.
Overall theme: Reading materials
Five other associative phrases or words: magazines, information, summary, main ideas, periodical.
Practice with two sentences: This is a digest of some current news. / I like to read Readers' Digest.
These are not foolproof techniques, but I think they do help because we learn well by mental scaffolding and forming links between current and new knowledge. You may also want to learn new words under the same theme so that more mental links can be formed. For example, I would prefer to learn words such as "bulletin", "advisory", "periodical" and "subscription" together as they come under the theme of "publications".
I hope this helps you.