Wednesday, 28 March 2012

More about vocabulary development

I'm still researching my own German vocabulary learning, looking for ways to improve my own learning skills and my ability to help my students.  I'm still loving the melancholy atmosphere of my Wallander novel, and amazed at how much I'm learning (without even trying very hard).

Today I sat down for 10 minutes with the teeny-tiny notebook which I made the other day from a sheet of photocopier paper, and went through the words I had listed. Quite a few of the words describe moody Wallander and his grumpy police colleagues, and I noticed how many of them describe 'ways of speaking' - words like 'abrupt', 'evasive' and 'angry'.  I decided it was time to start sorting out the words, and made a new notebook, this time called 'Interesting Vocabulary':

I then made headings for a few pages and copied out the words which fitted into my categories:

My first group were according to meaning, but later in the notebook I had some phrases using prepositions - I find them quite difficult.

I did actually break my 'don't translate' rule - but I wrote the translations in pencil, and I'm planning to rub them out bit by bit as I learn the German.  I'm experimenting with this - I still think it's better not to translate, but I'm still feeling tired and I was getting irritated by having to keep looking up the same words!  It's so important to be realistic in our study habits - if we make things too hard for ourselves we end up doing nothing - well, I do anyway.

I've been doing some more reading today (while my poor student Zoe was writing the most horrible IELTS Writing Task 2 ever) and have carried on listing the new and/or interesting words in the first notebook.  I'll sort those words out later or tomorrow.  

So, if you're struggling to get motivated about learning vocabulary when the sun is shining outside:

  • Be realistic - a regular, less-than-perfect habit is infinitely better than a wonderful plan which you never carry out.
  • Start TODAY - if you wait until you're in the right mood you may be waiting a very long time.
  • Don't wait until you can buy a lovely notebook - use whatever you have already got in your house.
  • I've said it before and I'll say it again (and again and again and again...) - READ SOMETHING YOU ENJOY!!!  If you start reading a book or website and are getting bored, read something else.  The most important thing is to get that language going into your brain.  

Good luck - and make sure you let me know your own ideas for improving your vocabulary learning skills - especially vocabulary for IELTS!


  1. A very interesting post. How long did it take to make a teeny tiny notebook ?

  2. Not long... Do I take it you want me to make you one? :-)

    1. Yes please. I would love a teeny tiny notebook.