The list of vocabulary words in each of your short stories in English, or your numerous words and definitions in Science adds up to a very long list to learn. Some vocabulary words are hard to spell, hard to pronounce and have hard definitions. So how do you do it? How do you remember the spelling and meanings for these words?
Many times I see students with their head bowed over their notes reading over and over again vocabulary words and their meanings. How much of that they retain for the rest of their lives I don’t know but they probably don’t remember many of them after the exam, unless, of course, they have to use that word frequently over time.
Why do I believe that the student doesn’t remember very much from this study method? When we memorize in this rote fashion, we do not put the information in our long-term memory “banks”. It is retained in the short term memory “bank”. That means as soon as the test is over, the words take a leave of absence.
Recall is a better way to memorize lists and definitions. How do you use recall? Take 10 of the words that you need to learn. Read the words, spell them out, write them down, and learn the meanings. Now close your text or copy. Take a rough copy and write down the words and meanings to the 10 words you have been trying to remember. Once completed compare what you did to what is written in your copy or text. How many did you remember? For those that you didn’t remember, repeat the exercise. Do not go onto the next 10 until you have remembered all 10. Once you have remembered all 10, learn the next 10 words/definitions. Then repeat the process in your rough copy, but this time you should include all 20 words not just the last 10. Repeat this until you have gone through your entire list.
Time consuming? You bet! But you will know your words. Better still don’t wait until the last day to learn these words. Make it part of your weekly study plan. At the end of the week recap all your vocabulary words using the recall method. By the time exam time comes around you will already know most of the words and their meanings. You will simply have to review your vocabulary for the exam.
The long term benefit of this method is a life-long recall of these words. That means that once the exam has finished and you have graduated and left school far behind, you will still remember the words. Now that is learning. That is life-long learning!