How easy is it for you to remember new English words or grammar easily?
Most people find it difficult to remember every new thing, but there are strategies which will help you remember English more automatically. Read on for some things that you can do!
How we remember new things
What we remember depends on how our brain processes new information. If we try to do too much at the same time, it’s more difficult to remember things.
New information from what we see, read or hear goes first into our “working memory”. From there, the information is either forgotten – or it goes into our “long-term memory” – which is where we store our knowledge.
But a problem can happen at the working memory stage, because it can only keep a few pieces of information at a time. If the information we’re trying to learn is too complex – or if there’s just too much of it – our working memory can’t function.
This happens much more when we have less English stored in our long-term memory – especially at the beginning stages of learning English. But it can also be a problem at more advanced levels as well. Here are four strategies which will help you to remember more and to learn more quickly.
How you can remember more
Here are four things which will help you to remember more.
1. Practise and use what you learn
This helps in two ways:
– it tells your working memory that the new word / new grammar, etc is important, so it goes into your long-term memory.
– when you review something after a few days, then after a week, etc; it helps to make it “automatic” in your long-term memory. You can then build on this knowledge and add new words / grammar etc to what you already know.
2. Limit your focus
Because your working memory is limited, don’t give it too much to do at the same time. So, avoid translating between English and your own language (even when you’re thinking, rather than speaking) and don’t try to memorise lots of words at the same time.
If you’re concentrating on listening to someone, try to do it in a quiet place.
3. Build on what you know
– Learn simpler things before more complicated things. When you use and practise simple tenses or vocabulary first, it’s then easier to go on to more advanced tenses or words.
– Try to link new things to what you already know. So learn vocabulary in themes, rather than in lists, and learn new things in context.
– Use “fluency phrases” – automatic phrases that you can use in conversations and which you can extend with more details.
(See the end of this page for how fluency phrases work!)
4. Give your brain time to think
When you’re discussing ideas in English, your brain has to do at least three big things. For example, you have to listen to the other person, then think of an idea, then express it in English.
It helps if you know some automatic phrases for giving your opinion, or agreeing and disagreeing. As you speak these sentences (which doesn’t take much brain power if you already know and use them) you can think about your idea – and the words to express it.
Fluency phrases help you to build sentences. They are automatic phrases we use to start a sentence – or to reply easily and quickly.
Fluency phrases always stay the same – so they’re easy to remember – but you can add details to them to extend your sentence (to sound more sophisticated!) or to be relevant to the conversation.
Get more than 250 fluency phrases in the Fast Phrase Finder when you join the English Fluency Club!