Learn new words fast even if you think you can’t

I can’t learn new vocabulary by repetition. It’s not working for me. I waste time. So I tried to find other ways. Maybe these strategies can also help you.

So, how to start with new language. There are many tips you can find online. But I want to focus on 4, that were most useful for me.

1. Find cognates

Your new language probably has a lot of words that are similar to English or your mother language. Try to find list of such international friends. This way, before starting you will know some vocabulary.

These are examples from dictionaries:
action (En): something done for a particular purpose
aksiyon (Tr): used in collocation with movie to denote a specific genre

active (En): functioning
aktif (Tr): being directly involved in and working hard for something

actor (En): (international actors) means person involved in something to achieve an aim, or a person whose profession is acting on the stage, in movies, or on television
aktör (Tr): a cinema/tv term, a person who acts in a play, movie etc.

address (En): to make a speech to a group of people, or the particulars of the place where someone lives or an organisation is situated
adres (Tr): the number of the street and the town where one lives, work and where parcels and letters can be sent to the one.

agenda (En): a list of items to be discussed at a meeting
ajanda (Tr): a notebook with a calendar of action

aggressive (En): forceful and determined
agresif (Tr): full of anger and hostility.

assist (En): to give help or support
asiste (Tr): means the same but is used in medicine and basketball

authority (En): the power to control, command or judge others
otorite (Tr): means a position that has the power to control, command or judge others.

baggage (En): previous knowledge or experience, or personal belongings packed in suitcases for traveling; luggage
bagaj (Tr): means suitcases packed for a journey

barrier (En): anything that prevents progress
bariyer (Tr): anything that blocks a way or separates such as a gate.

bank (En): means the raised ground along the edge of a river, or an institution where people store their money
banka (Tr): an institution where people or businesses can keep their money and which offers services such as lending, exchanging or transferring money.

border (En): dividing line between political or geographic regions
bordür (Tr): a band or margin around or along the edge of something.

character (En): the combination of qualities distinguishing a person, group, place etc.
karakter (Tr): a psychological term, meaning the combination of qualities distinguishing a person.

More examples of Turkish-English friends-words

2. Use what you learned immediately

Don’t wait. Try to make a sentence even though it’s far from correct. Even though doing it at school you would fail all the exams. This is not a school. And guess what, locals will appreciate that you’re trying. Sometimes they will laugh their asses of after you say something. But this is not to show you disrespect. You just did something funny!

Use everything you learned immediately. Make sentences with no grammar. You will be understood better than when you use very complicated construction that you practised at school but never used in your life.

3. Find a list of most frequently used words

It’s very easy to find on the internet lists of most popular words. These words are used everyday in most conversations. Once you memorise them and you will keep hearing them every day. Everyone is using them! But don’t sit and repeat. Build a sentence using word you want to learn.

Make sure you know how to spell them correctly, you’re going to use them every day. Try to memorise each of them in a sentence. Don’t learn the meaning of a new word, learn how to use it. How did I learn “için”, which means “for”? One day, during barbecue I was taught a phrase: “Mangal için bekliyorum”. I saw myself on a video repeating it again and again. It was funny, it taught me “barbecue”, “for” and “waiting”!

List of most common English words

Try examples:
for – için: Kış için bekliyorum – I’m waiting for a winter.
come – gelmek: Kış geliyor – winter is coming (imagine Game of thrones, or freezing, white winter)
go – gitmek: Kursa gitmek – go to course – Kursa gidiyorum – I’m going to a course. You know “Kurs” – sounds familiar to course. And you don’t have to remember which word exactly means “go”, witch “come”. You will recall the sentence and automatically you have less to memorise.

Here’s 1000 most commonly used words in Turkish

Try to find similar sources of other languages, depending on what you need.

4. Create mnemonics

Sometimes I memorise a new word because I remember a situation connected to it. Or I remember a foreign word because I find some sort of relationship to the English or Polish word. My hometown neighbours surname is “Duda”. I imagine them with really big lips, what helps me remember “dudak” which in Turkish means lips.
I found a good tip to remember “ayak”. Imagine siting in a kayak. Then look at your legs in the bottom of imaginary kayak and you will know, Turkish word for “legs” is “ayak”.

Once you find a word from your current knowledge that sounds similar to a new one, you’re lucky. You don’t need to remember a new sound, you just make some space in your brain for new meaning.

The similarity may be in the way the word is pronounced (English “boat” is German “boot”), or it may be in the way the word is spelt (French “lettre” is English “letter”). It does not really matter as long as you identify the similarity and then use it to help you translate.

Other example found in “Boost Your Mindpower” by Jonathan Hancock – German “hafen” means harbour. As you can associate “hafen” with haven because in rough weather, a harbour is a safe haven for ships.
How to remember letters after which “ad” in a suffix change into “at” – remember fıstıkçı şahap (It means “Şahap, peanut seller”).
For “h, ş, f, ç, t, s, k, p” remember “hoşafı iç tası kapa” (witch means: “Drink the compote cover the bowl”, hoşaf is compote, and tas is bowl),
For “p, ç, t and k” – “Peçete tak” ( which means “Take a serviette”).

This is a temporary solution, soon you will remember words and you won’t have to rely on mnemonics. Mnemonics are a great method for basic vocabulary, when you’re still a beginner. Google some mnemonic for chosen language or make your own.

Most important – forget about school technics. You come for EVS. No one will give you a bad note if you’re not a good student. Whatever you learn will be appreciated.

By Małgorzata Kiełtyka

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