A big part of learning a new language is memorization. One of the most difficult things you must memorize as you acquire your new language is vocabulary. Every language has thousands of words, and it can be daunting to imagine memorizing them all. While you certainly don’t need to know every single word, you want to set yourself up for success in retaining as many vocabulary words as possible. In this blog, we will go over some tips on how you can successfully memorize your vocabulary words before your next adult language class.

Be realistic

You may want to memorize 100 words in one night, but this is not the more realistic of goals. Instead, focus on making realistic, attainable goals for memorizing vocabulary words. According to research, one can memorize from 10 to 20 words per hour of studying. Therefore, if you tend to study for half an hour each day, you can set your goal to memorize 25 new words a week. This is an attainable goal, setting you up for success.

Pick a theme

If you are going to associate vocabulary words, it’s best to group them together according to theme. Cluster your vocabulary memorization together so you associate things that make sense together, making it easier to remember them in a common situation.

Don’t pair opposites

You may want to study your vocabulary in opposites (i.e. hot/cold, good/bad). While this might seem logical, it actually makes it more likely that you will mix the two words up. Instead, you should focus your efforts on memorizing the one you most commonly use first, and then study its opposite later.

Dissect new vocabulary

When you learn a new word, think deeply about its structure and meaning. Words commonly include prefixes and suffixes, which can help you more readily understand what a word is saying. When you understand and recognize these affixes, you can more easily comprehend your new vocabulary due to context clues and make educated guesses about new words’ meanings.

Always review

When you are learning a new language, you might find it easy to catch on to new vocabulary at first, but a week later, you can’t remember what it means at all. This is because you did not transfer this word from your short term to your long term memory. In order to do this, you need to repeatedly study the same words over time. After you learn new vocabulary, the weeks following should not be solely focused on learning new words; you also need to reinforce the words you already know by reviewing them regularly.


One of the best ways to acquire new vocabulary is by reading. Not only does it introduce you to new words, it helps you review ones you have already studied, reinforcing them in your mind. It also introduces you to using these vocabulary words in different contexts. Try reading a variety of things in your chosen language, such as newspaper articles, short stories, and books. Even something as small as reading advertisements or menus is enough to help with your vocabulary.

At Crossing Borders Languages, we offer adult language classes in the Houston, TX area. Contact us today to schedule your appointment!