Cooperative Learning Center

How to remember new words and phrases

When you’re reading or studying and you encounter an unfamiliar word or phrase, can you still understand the sentence without knowing the meaning of the word(s)? If yes, then you can keep reading and stay focused on the main ideas. But if you can’t understand the sentence, then it is worth your time to investigate the word(s).

  • Write the word(s) on a separate document, journal or notebook.
  • Go back to the original sentence and continue reading.
  • Then, look up the meaning and write the formal meaning.
  • Guess at the meaning and write down your guess.

The act of guessing, even when you guess incorrectly, has been shown to dramatically increase memory of new information. Keep a journal or log of new vocabulary and review it occasionally to see your progress.

For more tips and language study strategies, visit the CLC and make an appointment with an ELL (English Language Learning) tutor to assist with reading, editing, university communications, presentations and more.