A Learning Method for Vocabulary – Index Cards

A method for anchoring vocabulary in your long term memory

You need index cards (or something similar), a drawer or box that you can divide into compartments for holding the cards.

Every day you will want to begin with 7 new words / phrases (see “Rule of Seven“).

Start writing vocabulary cards – target language on one side, native language equivalent on the other.

This is the way I do it:

All cards to be learned go into compartment 1.

Every day I take out 7 to learn.

1 – I look first at the side with the target language and try to figure out the meaning.

+ This trains COMPREHENSION – do I understand it when I see or hear it?

As soon as I can go through all 7 cards without a mistake, I place them into compartment 2. I will look at them the next day (together with 7 new cards).

2 – I go through the cards in compartment 2, now looking at the native language word / phrase and try to remember the target language term.

+ This enables me to learn how to express my thoughts in the target language.

Those cards that I am able to translate correctly the very first time I look at it go into compartment 4. I will look at these again in 2 DAYS.

The rest of them go into compartment 3.

3 – The next day, in addition to 7 new cards from compartment 1, I look at the cards in compartment 3, from now on concentrating on translating from native-to-target language (as in step 2).

Those cards that I am able to translate correctly the VERY FIRST TIME I look at it go into compartment 4.

I repeat the others until I can translate them. They stay in compartment 3.

4 – The next day:

– I learn 7 new cards from compartment 1 (steps 1 and 2).

– I go through the cards in compartment 3 (step 3)

– I look at the cards in compartment 4.

Those cards that I am able to translate correctly the VERY FIRST TIME I look at it go into compartment 5.

I will look at the cards in compartment 5 in 4 DAYS.

The cards in compartment 5 that I am able to translate correctly the VERY FIRST TIME go into compartment 6.

Once a week (7 to 8 days) I look at the cards in compartment 6. Those cards that I am able to translate correctly the VERY FIRST TIME are now anchored in my long term memory. The rest stay go back to compartment 5.

After I have reviewed and learned the other cards from compartment 5 that I did not immediately recognize, they go back into compartment 4 and the process is repeated.

What you can do at home with index cards and compartments, 17-Minute Languages does for you electronically. That is why I use it.

I still, however, write down the vocabulary for separate, spare time review.

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