1. Don’t overstudy. Trying to study too much in one session will lower your ability to remember new things. The brain can only remember so many items at once, and everyone’s brain is different. For example, some people can remember over 50 new words a week, while others remember only 3-4. When you feel you’ve had enough, stop and take a break – give your brain a rest. If you have been studying for many years, take a break from your studies for a week or two. When you return to your studies you will find that you can remember much more than before. Never study more than 3-4 times a week – For example, study one day and rest the next.
2. Improve your memory: The brain is like a muscle. It needs exercise or it will lose its ability to process and store information. Set a regular study time for yourself (just like if you were going to the gym every other day) and keep to your schedule. Your body clock will prepare the brain for study if it becomes use to this schedule. If you are having trouble remembering, connect new words with things you (or others) already have or know. (For example, I have a wall clock, a calendar and a desk at home, but I don’t have a TV. My sister has a TV, but she doesn’t have a cellphone. – 5 new nouns of real things I already know about in my life.)
3. Repeat new words out loud, until you are sure of your pronunciation. If possible, record yourself speaking and then listen to it, while comparing it to your foreign teacher’s voice. (Ask your teacher for pronunciation help as often as you need.)
4. Syllable stress: Break down words into syllables and remember that each word has only one syllable which is stressed. (For example “Study”, Stú ·dy has two syllables, and the stress is placed on the syllable “Stú”. – some students find it easier to write down each syllable and mark the stressed one with a Vietnamese tone marker.) Remember basic rules for stress.
5. Nouns: Find new vocabulary items in your environment. Use the foreign vocabulary to talk about them, not your native language. (Seeing/knowing something real will help improve learning and memory. – See #2 above.)
6. Verbs: If your new vocabulary word is a verb, try to imagine yourself (and others) doing that action. Try making new sentences using yourself, your friend(s), family, and/or groups of people using the new verb. (For example: “I swim”, “he swims”, “they swim”, “we swim” etc.). When you have accomplished that, try to use three forms of the verb tense. (For example “I eat”, “I ate”, “I have eaten”.) 7. Adjectives: If your new vocabulary word is an adjective, use your word knowledge to connect with nouns and make sentences, describing those items. For example: “a shiny black wooden table”, “a beautiful gold watch”, “an expensive Nokia cellphone”. Practice this step with #5 above. (Remember that not all adjectives fit with all nouns.)
8. Grammar: Remember grammar structure - (subject + verb + object). Try to remember where certain words go, i.e., adjectives go before the noun, the verb “to be” goes after the subject, etc.
9. Make notes in class: Keep a class notebook. The teacher will usually write a grammar or pronunciation point down on the board for you. You should keep a record of what each class is about. Copying the class whiteboard to paper is one way to remember exactly what you studied, and it’s easier to review later.
10. Keep a pocket notebook with you wherever you go. When you see something that you haven’t studied yet, write it down (in your language). When you get home, look-it up in the dictionary (always use more than one) and write the meaning down (in English) next to your native word. By using these visual and writing skills it will help you in the learning process and prevent spelling errors.
Collected from UpdateSofts forum