When you’re learning a language, sometimes just hearing a new word isn’t enough. Many people are “visual learners” meaning that they have to see something to be able to really remember it well.

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Reading books and articles is not only a great way to learn new vocabulary, it also helps you to understand new words more fully than if you just studied them one by one.

When you read in a foreign language, you may not be able to understand everything right away. Go through the text once and highlight any words you don’t know. Translate them, then go back and read the whole text again. It’s actually much easier to remember new words when you see them in context in this way.

Start with short, simple articles and as your reading improves, build up to longer, more difficult pieces.


When you learn a new word, it is always a good idea to write it down somewhere. This really helps your brain to process it and makes it more likely that you’ll recall it later.

Writing is also a good way of remembering new grammar points and sentence structures. When you learn a new structure for the first time, write down a few different examples to practice using it in different ways.


Watching films and television shows is a really effective way to improve your listening skills as well as helping you to understand the way in which different phrases are used.

You can watch with the subtitles switched on in your own language to guide you, or if you feel more confident you can try without. By listening to the actors’ tones of voice and watching their expressions you can usually get a good idea of what is going on even if you don’t understand every word.

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About the Author

Natalie Saunders is a former English-language educator who now works as a freelance writer and translator between English and Mandarin.

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