Have you just come out of your French lesson with a long vocabulary list and a spinning head? Not sure how you are going to learn all these words in time for next week? Try out some of the tips below.
1. Verbalise the new French words
Repeat them out loud. When you come across a new word, make sure you know how it is pronounced. If you are learning on your own, use your pronunciation guide to help you. If you are learning with a teacher or a tutor, ask them for assistance and get them to say it so that you are able to write it phonetically as a reference point for when you are learning by yourself.
If you are having trouble remembering how French words are pronounced, don’t worry – it gets easier as your vocabulary expands! Try to revise your alphabet often and ask yourself if this word looks like one you have seen before. The chances are that parts of this new word will be pronounced like another word you know how to say.
2. Find a French learning buddy
Partner up with somebody who is at about the same level of proficiency as you, so you can keep testing each other outside the classroom.
Are you a French Speak student and looking for a learning buddy? Let me know and I will try to pair you up with someone in our French Speak family!
3. Use colour
In your French notebook, use colour to group the related vocabulary depending on whether it is a noun (a thing), a verb (an action word) or an adjective (a descriptive word).
4. Guess the English meaning first
Divide your pages of vocabulary into two columns, with the French words on one side and the English words on the other. Start learning by first guessing the English meaning of the word – this step will help engage your memory. Once you know it, hide the French words and learn it the other way.
5. Use it in a simple French sentence
When you come across a new word, try to use it in a sentence. This provides extra context to the word, and your brain loves to learn when it is given context.
6. Categorise new French vocabulary
Use mind-maps or themed lists to group new words. Useful ways to do this are to link new words to vocabulary you already know as either synonyms (words which share the same meaning) or antonyms (opposite meaning).
7. Have a guess – nobody will laugh
When you come across a new word, take a look at the word and see if you can guess its meaning. Whether you guess correctly or not, this exercise will increase your chances of recalling it later on. Beware that some words in French will really look like a word in English, but may mean something entirely different. We call these words ‘false friends’.
8. Review your French regularly
This is essential for long-term memory. There are very few who are able to hear new vocabulary in class and remember it a week later without revision!
9. Visualise when the French word would be used
Keep saying the word out loud and imagine a scenario where you would say it or hear it. What context would it be? Who would say it and why?
10. Make the most of those boring times…
It may be on the bus on the way to work, or during the ads on TV, but try using that time to remember a few words in your new vocabulary list. Stick lists on the bathroom mirror or the fridge (but make sure you rotate them often – how quickly we stop seeing bits of paper stuck to the fridge!) Create flashcards for the tricky vocabulary and ‘play’ with them often (write the word in French on one side and the word in English on the other). In smaller writing, you can even add a short sentence containing the new word.
11. Do your homework
The teachers at school were right – it’s for your own good!
Let us know what works for you
Not all of these revision methods work for everybody (except for #11!) Over time, you will find which methods work best for your revision, and you may even create new ones.
I would love to hear from you about the best ways you have found to learn your vocabulary. Let us know what works best for you!