It’s August, which means one thing for us today, students: vocab words are coming for you.
That’s right. You can’t avoid it — at least not if you’re in any psychology, science, or language class (whether that’s your native language or a foreign one). Vocabulary words are coming for you. If you’re going to get the year started the right way, you’ll want to make sure you are using effective approaches to learn vocab fast.
Try using these two painless strategies that will help you learn how to learn vocab fast. We’re confident you’ll enjoy the benefits.
1) How to learn vocab fast: use a chunking method of memorization
Some of our students have never heard of this strategy, and that’s fine. Its really simple — but also really effective. Basically chunking just means that you learn things in groups instead of by themselves.
We’re talking here about a serious contrast with one common study strategy: flashcards.
We’ve written elsewhere about the positives and negatives of using flashcards, but here’s the general gist. Flashcards are a great way to know if you have a vocab word down really well. You see the flashcard. If you know the vocab word, you’re set.
But flashcards counteract your mind’s natural preference to learn through using connections. This is where chunking comes in. Instead of attempting to memorize 20 random vocab words, try memorizing 5 groups of 4 vocab words.
Your mind can only hold about 5 to 9 things in your working memory at a time. Memorizing info in “chunks” thus makes it much easier for your mind to remember.
2) How to learn vocab fast: focus on the meaning of a word
This info is coming out of a Samford University study. Basically, the uber-smart folks on their psychological research team discovered that one of the biggest factors in helping you remember more is how deeply you process info.
Shallow processing just has to do with things like the order of the letters in a word, or remembering the order of words in a definition.
Deep processing doesn’t focus on the form of a word nearly as much as the meaning behind that word. We can also include personal connections, thoughts, reflections, opinions, and any other generally deeper level thinking about a word.
So, as weird as it may seem, focusing on understanding the meaning behind a word will help you learn it faster than just cranking out the definition in rote memory fashion.
We know we’re just getting this convo started — we’d love to hear your “How to learn vocab fast” tips on social media! Until then, Adios (our special vocab word for the day).