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Difficulties in Learning Vocabulary

Difficulties in Learning Vocabulary

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Published by: guccirush2 on May 10, 2010
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Learning vocabulary is a very important part of learning a language. Themore words you know, the more you will be able to understand what you hear and read;and the better you will be able to say what you want to when speaking or writing.The vocabulary we know can be divided into two groups - passive vocabulary and activevocabulary. Passive vocabulary contains all the words that you understand when you reador listen, but which you do not use (or cannot remember) in your own writing andspeaking. Active vocabulary is all the words you understand, plus all the words that youcan use yourself.Special problems involved in vocabulary understanding, such as polyse , the word’sidiomatic usage, false congnates and distinction between homophones, can also be solved by the context and the dictionary.Usually the first things you learn about a new English word are what it means and itstranslation in your own language. But there are other things you need to find out beforeyou can say that you know a word like a native speaker does. For example, you have tolearn: how it is spelled, how it is pronounced, how it is inflected (i.e. how it changes if itis a verb, noun or adjective), other grammar information about it, how it collocates (i.e.what other words are often used with it).Learning vocabulary seems to be one of the easiest things about learning alanguage, but it's also one of the hardest things to do, especially when you have reached acertain level. Learning vocabulary needs practice and time and in our days time is a problem. We can face some difficulties, such as:
deciding which words are worthlearning
. There are a lot of words in English compared with many other languages, and itis impossible to know them all - even native speakers frequently meet words they havenever seen before in their reading. Another problem can
be how to organize ourvocabulary
. Most people find that it's useful to organise the vocabulary they write downin some way, either to break the words/phrases into groups for learning, to showrelationships between similar words, or to make it easier to find a particular word. Hereare some ways of classifying your vocabulary that you might consider: according toalphabetical order; the order in which you found the words; topics; situations; 'families' of similar word meanings; frequency of occurrence.
Remembering vocabulary
(Vocabularylearning has largely been construed as a memory problem) seems to be another difficultyfor vocabulaty learners. One of the biggest problems with vocabulary learning is thatwhat’s ‘learned’ today is often forgotten tomorrow. Here are some suggested methods for reducing the 'forgetting problem':
a) Learn words repeatedly, with increasing intervals between learningsessions.
We all know that if learning is not repeated, we will forget the words we havelearned. But research in Psychology shows that we do not forget things gradually.Instead, most of our forgetting occurs within 20 minutes after we have first 'learned'something. More is forgotten within one hour, and still more within 8 hours - but after 8hours, the rate of forgetting stays surprisingly steady.
b) Have the words you want to learn with you wherever you go
, so that you canuse any ‘dead’ time, e.g. travelling to and from university. Word cards or vocabularynotebooks are useful.
c) Set aside a regular time for vocabulary learning or memorising
— e.g. just before you go to bed, or when travelling to and from university.
d) Spend more time on the words that you find difficult.
Often, when learningvocabulary, people create a list with the target words on one side and meanings on theother, and go down the list from the first word to the last, trying to memorise eachone. This method can have two problems: firstly, the words at the top of the list tendto be remembered better than those further down; and secondly, time is wasted goingover words that the learner has already learned. One way of overcoming these problems is to spend more time on the words that you find difficult. A simple way of doing this is to delete the words you know from the list. If you
in Word, you canalso change the order of the list, so that it’s not the same every time. An alternative isto post words onto a wall or board, and take them down when you know them.It isessential that the learner to evaluate his vocabulary learning. It's very important for most learners to have an idea of whether they're making progress or not. Finding thatyou are actually making progress can be a big help to your confidence.Every day you hear or read many new English words. You also find them inyour dictionary when you are translating from your own language. You can’t possiblylearn all these new words, so your first problem is to
decide which ones to concentrateon.
Here are some suggestions:
learn the words that are important to the subjects you are studying
learn the words that you read or hear again and again
learn the words that you know you will often want to use yourself 
do not learn words that are rare or not useful (your teacher can help you with this)Once we have chosen which words to learn, next we have to decide how are we going tolearn them. Here are a few ideas:
write the words in a notebook (with their translations or definitions)
write the words and definitions on small cardssay the words many times (if you have an electronic dictionary you can hear how the
 word is pronounced) put the words into different groups (you could use a graphic organiser)
write them in a file for use with a computer program
make associations (in pictures or with other words)
ask someone to test you
use the words in your own speaking or writing

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