Learning English can be hard work, and sometimes you even hit a bit of a plateau (read teacher Christelle’s blog here for what this is all about). So here are a few fresh/ different/ silly/ new/ unusual ways to help you learn or remember something you learned in your general English course.
1. Sing it, while cooking something
If you try to use all your senses while doing something, this will increase your chances of being able to remember it later. For example, if you want to learn some irregular verbs, write them down on a piece of paper and sing them to the rhythm and beat of your favourite song. Or try listing the verbs in an order that rhyme and keep repeating them. Stick a piece of paper up on the wall and start cooking something tasty and delicious. Keep talking out loud to yourself all the time! Later, when you want to remember those irregular words, just set the scene for yourself in your head and remember the smells, music and tastes you were experiencing with those words and it will all come back to you faster.
2. Walk and Talk
If you want to learn something, try summarising what you are learning onto study cards (write the detailed answers on one side of the card and just a short prompt on the other side) and then get yourself ready for a walk. Take your cards with you and just walk, focusing all the time on what you are trying to learn. Use your cards as prompts and try answering your own questions, or remembering what you want to learn. For example, on the one side you write the word ‘verb’ and on the back you write the definition of a verb, and some examples, irregularities, etc. Check your answers on the back of the card to make sure you are not forgetting anything.
3. Get back to basics with Nursery Rhymes
We all have nursery rhymes in our native languages. They are usually short and very catchy, and can contain a lot of new vocabulary. Try listening to some English nursery rhymes and looking up new vocabulary of the songs. Nursery rhymes have very catchy rhythms, so it will be easy to remember them and you will not easily forget a word you learned through a nursery rhyme because it provides a great context. As a word you learned in a nursery rhyme comes up, you will remember where you learned the word and probably have the nursery rhyme stuck in your head for the rest of the day too!
4. Wall Art
If you have new vocabulary you want to remember, write things down on individual pieces of paper in different colours and on different coloured paper and stick them all over your house/room/bathroom/kitchen, etc. If you are learning new vocabulary, try labelling the items in your house. For example, label your mirror, your toothbrush, your oven, your bath, your television, etc. Every time you see it, you will see the word written in front of you with the actual object.
If you use a good old fashioned real dictionary (not your phone), then start underlining words you look up in pencil. If you find yourself looking up the same word twice or more, then make a point of doing something that will help you remember so you don’t keep looking that word up. You could either ‘punish’ yourself, and by punish this could mean taking yourself out for a huge ice cream sundae and constantly reminding yourself why you are eating that sundae. Or, you could make a point of repeating the word over to yourself and properly making an attempt to remember it (try study cards), or just write the word and definition on a piece of paper and stick it somewhere you will see it a lot (like a bathroom mirror or next to your bed).
If you are interested in joining our general English courses, and want to be taught by highly experienced English teachers in Cape Town, then we would love to meet you at the UCT English Language Centre!