“How do I stop myself from forgetting the English words I learn?”
Now, first and foremost: don’t focus on words.
Focus on chunks of English, because this is how native speakers actually use English, and how you should learn if you want to speak like they do (i.e. fluently and naturally). But the principle is the same whether you’re learning words, phrases, expressions or chunks of English.
So I’ll say “words”….
… and keep it simple.
When I was first learning Japanese, I’d get really frustrated because I’d learn words again and again… and just forget them. And it’d be really irritating when I was speaking, and I KNEW I’d learned the word I wanted, but I had no idea what it was.
One book I read advised me to use “mnemonics” to remember words.
This is where you make up stories to remember the word with. This kind of worked… but to be honest I didn’t like doing it. It was time-consuming thinking up little stories for every word I wanted learn… and if I was reading, say, a book or article, it ruined my enjoyment stopping all the time.
But then I asked myself…
Why do we forget stuff, anyway?
And the answer to that is simple, but very powerful once you ‘get’ it.
We forget stuff because we put it in our brain… then do nothing with it, connect it to no other information and, then, well, never come back to it.
And so the brain thinks we don’t care.
And since it doesn’t want to waste its time with stuff we’re indifferent about, it assumes we’re done and chucks it out.
The key to remembering then (and indeed, this is why mnemonics work…) is showing the brain that the word we’ve just learned is important, we want it, it’s useful, and we NEED to remember it. And we do THIS by actively repeating, practising and relearning it… and importantly by integrating it into all the other information we have.
There’s that word again…
Remember what I talked about yesterday?
It’s hard to create totally new networks of information in the brain. But it’s very easy to ADD to existing networks. And because the new words we learn get tied up with those existing networks, then stick.
In my new book, English Learning Done Right: How Your Brain wants you to Learn to Speak English (or indeed, Any Other Skill) so it NEVER forgets I go into detail about how your brain learns best (based on what we know from cognitive psychology and neuroscience) and I give you a whole load of different ways you can integrate new English into your existing neural networks.
If you keep forgetting your English mid-conversation, grab yourself a copy and pay attention.
P.S. By the way…
If you’ve already got ELDR (which is the same as “Secrets of Structured Learning – I changed the name), be sure to register your copy to get the free audio version.
There’s a URL in the Resources section.
People who have the book also get extra lessons by email based on the book (and don’t see these promotions to get it).
If you don’t have it though…