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Improving Foreign Language Vocabulary Essay

1092 words - 5 pages

Improving Foreign Language Vocabulary

Various assessments have been used to determine language difficulty based on the ease with which infants learn a language as their primary tongue and how challenging a language is to learn as a second language by older children or adults The American State Department has compiled approximate learning expectations for a number of languages. Of the 63 languages analysed, the five most difficult languages to reach proficiency in speaking and proficiency in reading (for native English speakers who already know other languages), requiring a minimum of 88 weeks of intensive study are Arabic, Cantonese, Mandarin, Japanese and Korean. Japanese is considered ...view middle of the document...

The language we use programs our brains. Even the smallest of words can have the deepest effect on our sub-conscious mind. For example, the word "Try". It is a small word, yet it has an amazing impact upon us. If someone says, "I'll try to do that" you know that they are very likely not planning to put their whole heart in to it, and may not even do it at all. How often do you use the word try when talking about the things that matter to you? Do you say "I'll try to be more confident" or "I'll try to do that" or "I'll try to come, but I might not be able to make it to your party.”

Using translated texts is a great way to improve your vocabulary, especially in the beginning stage of the language learning process, when you can't deduct words out of the context from a foreign text, simply because you don't understand it at all. Having a translation of the text however, allows you to form links between the words and their meanings. Obviously, it's important that these texts are kept simple and clean and that they don't use words that can have several meanings that would only confuse you.


Although not necessarily a "new" method, mnemonics have been proven to be very effective in allowing students to memorize new words. The "trick" behind mnemonics is to link words in your native language to words in the new language and form visual images from the two. Oftentimes, these images will be far from common, sometimes they will be bizarre or interesting, which will only make them easier to be remembered. To give you some insight on how to use mnemonics, there is the "yellow ice" example used in several course books. The Spanish word for ice is "hielo" which resembles the English word yellow. This automatically forms a visual image of "yellow ice" which will help you remember the connection between the two. The Greek word for meat is “greas” (ΚΡΕΑΣ), which sound a little like “grey ass”. So, picture someone who sat on a bench that was just painted grey, and there you are! You will never forget how to say “meat” in Greek!

The Dictionary method


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