Hey! I really enjoy your blog but I was wondering if there are any tips on how to memorise French easily, thank you! :)
Hi there! Glad to hear you like the blog! Here are my memorisation tips:
1. Learn subject-specific vocabulary in chunks. What I mean by this is creating and learning a list of vocabulary which relates to a certain topic. For example, decide you’d like to memorise words to do with food, or nature, or clothes, or occupations, or giving/asking for directions, or ordering in a cafe, or environmental issues, or politics, or pick-up lines, whatever you want to learn, create a list of vocabulary that relates to that central theme and this will help you learn it more effectively. It certainly helps me when I’m wanting to talk about something in particular, because other words I’ve learnt at the same time will come more easily to mind. It also makes more sense to do it this way as opposed to learning random words here and there or all at once, and it’ll make it easier for you to identify which areas you are lacking vocabulary. You can find subject-specific vocabulary lists which I create myself for this blog (which can be downloaded in pdf form and printed out) here and other lists here too.
2. Use flash cards, post-it notes and mind maps. I’m a big fan of writing out my vocabulary by hand (although I do type lists too) as I just feel this aids memorisation. I’d recommend writing out a set of 10 words on a palm/flash card and their translations on the back, and then test yourself by looking just at the English and saying the French out loud or writing it down, and vice versa. Repeat and mix different vocabulary lists together when you’ve got the hang of one list. Just ten minutes of this kind of revision each day can go a long way! If you’re having trouble with certain words (spelling or pronunciation or remembering what they mean), write these on post-it notes and put them somewhere visible, like your bathroom mirror or in your bedroom. After looking at the same words each morning for a week while brushing your teeth, I guarantee you’ll know them off by heart without thinking too much about it. The aim is to have French surrounding you as much as possible! Mind maps are great visual tools too and work well for themed vocabulary. I also use them to write out ideas in French. For example, arguments for and against nuclear energy - the title “l’énergie nucléaire” in the middle with arrows outwards with separate arguments. Then practise elaborating on those argument headings with full sentences. A great tool for preparing for debates, discussions or for essay-planning as it gives you a visual overview and can act as a prompt.
3. Always, ALWAYS memorise the gender of words along with the word itself! As you can tell, I’m a big advocate of vocabulary lists, and you should always write the gender of the noun next to it, so you learn both at the same time. There’s little point learning just the word without the article (”le/la” or “un/une”) as this will greatly limit the way you can use the vocabulary and will just lead to a guessing game when you try and put it into a sentence. Visually speaking, it’s really important to see both the article and the noun next to one another as this will help you notice when a word ‘looks’ right, i.e. if you’ve always written out and seen “la maison” together you will know “le maison” looks bizarre and thus, is incorrect! Again, check out the link above to see how I like to lay out my vocabulary lists (left column French, right column English, and I use headings to break down longer lists).
4. Use vocabulary apps for your phone or computer. My favourite is Quizlet which I have on my phone. You type in your words and their translations, and then the app generates memorisation games for you and will recognise which words you enter incorrectly and will repeatedly give them to you until you master those vocabulary items. Again, make sure you’re separating vocabulary into logical lists which you can go back and revisit in months’ time. A simple search on the App Store for “vocabulary” will yield some good results, I have a laptop App called Wokabulary too.
5. Use the words in context. Writing practise sentences containing vocabulary you are studying will really help them stick in your mind. You don’t just want to build your receptive skills (recognising words) but make sure those words become part of your productive vocabulary (you can use them correctly). Another good idea is writing an essay or a few paragraphs which use the words you’ve learnt from a vocabulary list. Putting words into practise is imperative (and is more fun that staring at a list of words too!).
Do remember that some techniques work better for some people than for others, and it’s about finding what works for you and the type of learner you are. It also doesn’t hurt to mix up techniques because it will prevent memorising vocabulary from becoming a boring activity and will help you find what’s most effective. Hope this helps :)!