Get Weekly Language Tips That Work!

Receive study tips, resources, weekly challenges, helpful articles and inspiring success stories. Many students use our weekly newsletter as an essential part of their study routine.

What makes some words easier to learn than others?

The most important factor in determining how easily words are learned is, of course, how similar they are to the words in one’s native language (or another language you know well). 

Learning a language that is closely related to a language you already know is obviously a very different proposition to learning a language that is unrelated.

Learn a new Language with LinguaLift

Thus, learning Spanish when you, for instance, already know French, English, and Latin is made infinitely easier by virtue of the vast number of words that are “cognate” (words that are the same or very similar in both languages).

You do need, however, to pay particular attention to so-called “false cognates” – words which appear similar, but have different meanings. But in most cases that doesn’t require any special strategy; the observation that they are different is enough.

Other factors include the similarity between the word and other words in the chosen language that you’ve already learned, and the context in which you are learning the word. 

You generally don’t learn only one word at a time, so factors that will influence ease of learning will be:

– the relationship between the words (it’s more difficult to remember words that are similar in meaning, if you try and learn them at the same time)

– how many words you’re learning at a time (if the words are difficult, learn fewer!)

– the order in which you learn them (words you learn first and last are more easily remembered, therefore you need to give more attention to those in the middle, to make up for it)

And to make the learning more effective: 

First, instead of rote memorization, try to learn words within sentences or scenarios. For instance, if you’re learning the word “serendipity,” associate it with a personal experience where you unexpectedly discovered something great.

Second, break down your vocabulary list into smaller chunks. Learn a few words at a time and revisit them periodically. Spaced repetition techniques, such as flashcards or language apps, help reinforce memory by spacing out practice sessions over time. Prioritize words based on frequency and relevance.

Third, create mental images or visual associations for new words. For example, if you’re learning the French word “pomme” (apple), visualize a juicy apple. Mnemonics, like acronyms or funny phrases, can also help with recalling hard concepts.

Fourthly, practice using words actively! Write sentences, engage in conversations, or compose short paragraphs incorporating newly learned vocabulary. The more you use a word (by keeping it in your memory), the more ingrained it becomes.

Try a free lesson with Lingualift today!

Free language Tips

Get your weekly dose of language learning tips by email

Receive our free e-book Language Learning Secrets