A big part of language learning is the simple act of memorizing words – lots and lots of words. Since Language Garage uses blended learning – part live instruction, part self-study, we’ll break this process down into two parts. First, how the memorization and practice process starts, during your lesson, with your instructor.
Repeat, repeat, repeat
Your first introduction to vocabulary will be with your instructor, during a live lesson. Your instructor will make you work a bit with a new word – she’ll ask you to repeat it a few times, nudge your pronunciation, and say it a few times for you while you see the word (and an image) in front of you.
Next, your instructor will have you practice using the word, along with other related words, in a meaningful context. She’ll ask you questions using old vocabulary along with the new, and she’ll recycle old grammatical constructions you know. Eventually you’ll use the new vocabulary in the context of the lesson. For example, if the lesson is on ordering in a café, you’ll use the vocabulary in that context, maybe taking part in a dialogue where your instructor is a server. You’ll have bits of a script to follow as a cheat sheet, but by this point in the lesson, you’re spreading your wings a bit and playing with the new language, so the more creative you get, the better.
By now, you’ve said, heard, and seen any new vocabulary word probably a few dozen times, recycled throughout the lesson. This is intentional – repetition is key, preferably active and meaningful repetition. During your lesson you’ve practiced pronouncing the word, maybe had a bit of gentle correction, you’ve repeated it, you’ve answered questions using it, and you’ve asked the instructor or other students questions using it. You’ve tried your new vocabulary on for size quite a bit.
In some cases, that may be enough. Presto, the word is lodged in your long-term memory, and you’ll be able to call on it whenever you need it. But the truth is, that’s more the exception than the rule, unless the word is a cognate or one you happen to be familiar with already. So, the rest is going to be up to you to do on your own. We’ll get to that here.