Posted by: janecronin | June 30, 2011

Memorizing Spanish words

I’m always interested in different people’s learning methods.  I’m afraid I am very unsystematic.  I like to immerse myself in Spanish – mainly radio, TV and general chit-chat – and pick things up very gradually.  I start to notice a new word, I hear it several times, I may look it up in the dictionary but often forget the definition five minutes later, but gradually it settles itself into my working vocabulary.  This sounds like a slow process, but I’ve usually got a dozen different words and phrases buzzing around somewhere at any given time.

Other people are far more methodical.  I have students who copy out lists of words like lines at school, others who stick labels around the place and others who have wonderfully neat notebooks, complete with category sections and definitions.

Has anyone got a method of learning new words that they find particularly helpful?



  1. I like to learn 10 words per day. If I have not come across the words – I ALWAYS have subtitles on – I’ll pick up a football magazine, an IT website or similar and read it until I find a word or expression I do not know. Now, “swivelled” or “straddled” or “bandy” may be not words you use BUT they are words that I can easily bring into my active vocabulary and could easily come across in a football conversation.

    Incidentally futbolísticamente is one of my favourite words in Spanish. It’s a tragedy it does not exist in Swedish or English.

  2. There was a time when I used to get a word I liked and be able to remember if so easily and never forget it, but no matter which way I studied my memory just gradually let me down.

    I learned by best Spanish & pronunciacion when attending Jane´s classes for which I will always be grateful. Only wish I was 20 years younger these days! Don´t listen to people who say “You are NEVER too old” because it´s not true – I am here to prove it folks. Sheila

  3. I memorise words that appear regularly in our daily newspaper. Each time I read it I am able to understand more and I am able to recall those words previously memorised because I remember the context.

  4. Good tip, John

    Today I can prove there is a god. I have spent the last 30 years of my life looking for the translation of the magnificent Spanish word futbolisticamente

    (in a footballing sense, football, from a footballing perspective etc)

    Today I have seen it – footballovingly!!

    I can now go to my gods/godesses a happy man

    Ana Obregón, Los Lunnis, Ana Duato, Casilsas …I am on my way

  5. Hi,

    I agree that context is everything! Also, as painful as it is at the time, I find that if someone corrects you, or even laughs at your mistake, the discomfort helps it to stick in your mind. So that’s an argument for going out and risking making a fool of yourself.

    Steve, I’m going to try a sentence some time starting: “futbolisticamente hablando …” and see how I get on. As you know, I have become a Barça fan late in life.

    Sheila – you’re NEVER too old. Don’t let those braincells get you down!

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