What can help you to memorize new words?

When it comes to memorizing new words in a foreign language each learner has their own methods. The most effective way for me personally is speaking the language. No elaborate tool, memo technique or system can replace the active use and communication in a language.

However, there are certain tools that are very helpful. I myself am more one of the old school types. For me it is very basic. A coffee stained paper vocabulary book that I carry around and fill with new words whenever I come across an interesting one, with no particular order of the words. Just writing down a word helps me already to memorize, and I like casually flicking through my book whenever I have a moment. Sometimes, when I don’t have my booklet at hand and try to find a word in my memory, I literally see the word in the mind’s eye written in the upper left corner of the page scribbled down in my handwriting. I am a very visual learner type, I guess.

Some of my students like it the same old school way as me – words written on paper. Some have paper flashcards with different colors, green for verbs, red for nouns, yellow for adjectives and so on. Others take pleasure in creating their own personalized sophisticated mindmaps or memory systems.

And of course there are different language learning and flashcard apps. Especially for beginners it is recommendable to have one or several apps on their computer or smart phone that they can use whenever they have some spare time, e.g. time in the train, bus, plane, airport, train station, queues etc.

Here I would just like to introduce three useful apps that provide free basic versions:

Memrise is an online platform and app. You can create your own vocabulary lists, and test yourself with the help of a spaced repetition program until all the words are in your long term memory. You can share your lists with others, and you have access to loads of already existing vocabulary lists provided by the community.

Anki is an open-source, multi-platform spaced repetition system (SRS) flashcard program. You can create your own vocabulary lists, share them with others, and you have access to many already existing lists provided by the community. It is free for Windows, Android, OS X and Linux. There is a paid version for the use on Apple devices.

Busuu is an actual language course. In consecutive lessons you learn the basic vocabulary for everyday situations, simple sentences and the grammar basics. Positive: Useful background information on grammar topics is provided in your native language.

Do you have any other recommendations for apps or tools for learning German? Feel free to share them in the comment section!

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