Choice to Speak - 20 methods to memorize the foreign words

20 Methods of Memorizing Foreign Words

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Before we move on to 20 ways to memorize words, I want to give you some general helpful guidelines.

1. Always write down new unfamiliar words.

For example, when you are reading a book or watching a movie. Even if at this moment you have no opportunity to check the meaning, you can always write the words in the notes of your smartphone, so that you can later learn the translation.

2. Write out more than just the word and its translation.

Make it a rule to write out new words, indicating the gender and prepositions used with this word.

new word





verb form

3. Use the four column method, not two.

Write out a new word in the first column, then its translation; in the third – examples of use; the last remains for an explanation of the meaning of a word in a foreign language. In addition, you can specify synonyms and antonyms, as well as set expressions with this word.

4. Most importantly, use new vocabulary in your speaking and writing immediately after learning.

It is with the help of practice that you can memorize words and move them from a passive vocabulary to an active one.

Recommended dictionaries

• Reverso: Arabic-English dictionary & words in context 

• Lingea: Arabic-English dictionary & multilingual 

• Lisaan Masry: Egyptian Arabic-English (Arabic & Latin alphabet)

• Bilingual visual dictionary Arabic-English (2009) 

• Arabic English thematic lexicon by Daniel Newman (2007) 

• Oxford-Duden pictorial English dictionary by Moustafa Gabr (2003) 

• Dictionary of modern written Arabic, Arabic-English, by Hans Wehr (1979) 

• Al-Mawrid, Modern Arabic-English dictionary, by Rohi Baalbaki, Lebanon (1995) 

• Arabic-English dictionary by William Thomson Wortabet, John Wortabet, Harvey Porter (1984) 

• Arabic vocabulary, by topics 

• Arabic-English Lexicon by Edward William Lane (1863) 

or scanned books: ا – ث – ج – خ – د – ز – س – ص – ض – ع – غ – ف – ق – م – ن – ي

• Arabic-English vocabulary for the use of English students of modern Egyptian Arabic, compiled by Donald Cameron (1892) 

• Arabic-English vocabulary of the colloquial Arabic of Egypt, containing the vernacular idioms and expressions, slang phrases, etc… used by the native Egyptians, compiled by Socrates Spiro (1895) 

• English-Arabic vocabulary for the use of officials in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, by Captain Harold Amery (1905) 

• Verbal idioms of Quʾrān by Mustansir Mir (1989) 

• The foreign vocabulary of the Quʾrān by Arthur Jeffrey (1938) 

• Dictionary and glossary of the Koran by John Penrice (1873) 

• Arabic and Latin anatomical terminology chiefly from the Middle Ages, by Adolf Fonahn (1922) 

• Lexicon arabico-latinum: Arabic-Latin dictionary by Georg Wilhelm Freytag (1835) : I-II & III-IV

• Lexicon arabico-latinum contextum ex probatioribus orientis lexicographis: Arabic-Latin dictionary by Jacobus Golius (1653) 

• Arabic proverbs or The manners and customs of the modern Egyptians, translated by and explained John Lewis Burckhardt (1875) 


Half Page Method

It is perfect for visuals. You need to take a sheet, bend it in half. On one side, on the edge of the sheet, write down the word, and on the other side the translation. Be sure to indicate the kind of words and the prepositions that are used with it, and ideally write out not just words, but specific examples, phrases.

Traditional flashcards for memorizing words

You will spend a lot of time creating them, but later you can carry them with you everywhere and repeat the words at any time.

Grouping words by grammar or meaning

It’s hard to learn tons of incoherent words. It is much easier to memorize them structurally by semantic groups. You can have separate envelopes for these cards, or just write out the words in different blocks of the notebook. For example, one day concentrate on the group “prepositions” and make examples with them, on the second day – take the topic “animals” and repeat them on the way to school or work.

Word strings

This method represents the selection of a certain group of words and composing a small story with them. The lesson is quite interesting and will even help develop creativity.

Pimsleur method or 24/3/7 method

The method is to repeat groups of words at specific time intervals. The classic method involves the first repetition after 24 hours, the second after 3 days, and the third after a week. Hence, the name “24/7/3”. Nevertheless, you can choose any other time intervals, but the main thing is that each time the time break is longer than the previous one.

The four-column method

Write out a new word in the first column; in the second its translation; in the third – examples of use; in the fourth – an explanation of the meaning of a word in a foreign language. In addition, you can specify synonyms and antonyms, as well as set expressions with this word. This method will help you better work with the word, create new associations, remember when you should use a specific vocabulary.

The right environment

The method helps you to learn all the subjects that surround you in everyday life. You need to take stickers and spend a little time to post them all over the house. Even in one day, you can learn all the words that will definitely come in handy in everyday communication.

Etymological method

This way you will be looking for the origin words in the etymological dictionary. Digging into the historical origin of the word, you involuntarily remember it. It also helps you study and better understand its specific meaning and contextual use.

Method of control and discipline

Ask family or friends to supervise and validate your new word learning. Once a week or more, they can give you vocabulary dictations. It has long been proven that no matter how much a person wants to learn the language himself, with the help of a teacher it will be much more effective and faster.

Quizlet – App or Website

You can find ready-made vocabulary cards or create your own cards. New words are automatically added with illustrations for the association and better memorization. In addition, on the site, you can perform various kinds of exercises to train the learned words.

The method of learning root words

Considering the root of the word of interest, form groups that will contain: nouns, verbs, adjectives, or adverbs. The paper and electronic dictionaries listed above will help you with this.

Learning a word in context

“Cramming” single words torn from different plots, books and lists will be much more difficult and certainly less effective. Write examples and sentences, short stories, work with a dictionary, and look for stable phrases.


The point is to come up with a completely stupid and absurd association for the word. The main thing is that it contains the image of the meaning you need. This is the best way to work with the most difficult words to memorize.

Listening to words

The method is suitable for audiences and those who don’t pull the headphones out of their ears. It consists of recording an audio list of words you need to study and listen to them. Convenient for busy people, because you can do it anywhere. For an even better effect, it is worth listening to podcasts with a detailed analysis of dialogues, texts, and vocabulary for them.

Learning dialogues by heart

I know you’ve given up on this idea already but listen. Studying even small dialogues will help you quickly find the right word and even a phrase in your head in real communication. So, you will know by heart in what context a certain expression should be used.


The method is suitable for those who like to read and have free time. Although this method requires perseverance, it is very effective. Before you start reading mindfully, go over the text with your eyes, and make a list of unfamiliar words. First, try to understand the meaning of the word from the context, and then refer to the dictionary. Use context to understand the translation of unfamiliar phrases. Usually, the words next to it can help with this.

Don’t try to understand the whole sentence at once. Break it apart using commas or distinction of thoughts and ideas. This will simplify the task, and when connected, you can translate the text completely. Link similar ideas and thoughts, understand how they fit together. As a result, you can put everything together and understand the content of the whole text. Try to briefly retell it to yourself or others. This is the ideal way, because it contains everything you need to correctly memorize words from the context.

Multiple writing

This method is suitable for visuals. You need to write the same word or expression in a line or column many times.

Multiple repetition

Almost the same as above, but for auditors. Say the desired word and its meaning many times. Better yet, compose examples with him and also re-read in your voice at least five times.

Creative method

With this method, you can let your imagination run wild and do whatever you want with words. Talk about them with others or with their help talk to yourself, hang stickers on mirrors, draw strange associations, eat a nut for every precisely learned word. Whatever just let your creativity and imagination run wild!

“Do you really need this?”

This is not so much a method as a recommendation. Do not clutter your brain with words that you hardly ever need, like “crankshaft oil seals.” Don’t use this advice if you want to become a professional translator. There you need to know even that.

To conclude, there is no universal way since each person and his abilities are individual. Try one method every day and I’m sure everyone can find what works best.

Choice to Speak

Choice to Speak is an Educational Platform that gives wings to words. We care about your time and resources, therefore our courses are designed for your convenience and our tutors are at your service to guide you through this journey.


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