There’s no getting around it: if you want to learn Arabic, you’re going to have to memorize a LOT of new vocabulary words.
This can be particularly challenging for many students, especially since this is part of the learning process that never ends. There will always be new words and phrases to add to your repertoire.
So, what can you do if you feel like rote memorization isn’t your strong point?
What can you do to acquire and use more vocabulary and grammar in the most efficient way possible?
While it is possible to simply force the new words into your brain through sheer repetition, there may be some things you can do to make the whole process easier and more effective.
If you start strengthening your memory now, it will make it easier to acquire new words, keep them ready for when they’re needed, and put them into sentences to communicate with others in Arabic.
Your Memory Is a Muscle
And just like any other muscle in your body, this one can be strengthened, stretched, and toned if you continue to exercise it, massage it, and give it plenty of nutrients.
The good news is that a new language is a wonderful way to feed your memory, and there are some simple techniques that you can use sharpen your memory and put it to active use.
Before we get into these techniques, though, let’s also just mention that, much like training your other muscles, not every training regimen works the same for ever person. You need to find the exercises that have the most impact and use them to get the best results possible.
Healthy Body, Healthy Mind
Regular, physical exercises can help sharpen your mind and help you stay focused. When you get out and get fit, it can help improve your brain’s ability to function and stay ready to learn new things. It also keeps you feeling more energized and more positive, so you are more likely to actively pursue new knowledge.
The same goes for healthy eating. If you keep your body and your brain fed on a steady stream of healthy, memory-supporting foods, you’ll be able to strengthen your memory and make learning a new language much easier. (Foods like nuts are high in zinc and omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to support cognitive function.)
As a final note on the subject, be sure you’re getting plenty of sleep. One of the first signs of insufficient rest is a strained memory. Getting enough sleep every night can help improve your overall memory and concentration. It has even been suggested that sleep actually helps us really lock new words into our memory through a phenomenon called “verbal cueing.”
Use It, Don’t Just Store It
Actively seek reasons to use any new words recently added to your memory.
Whether this is around the house and just involves pointing to a chair, a table, or the sink and saying their Arabic names out loud or seeking out an opportunity in a conversation to discuss a topic that relates to your new words, using the vocabulary will help you keep them it your active memory.
The quicker you put a new word into active use, the more likely you will be to keep it where it you will be able to recall it when necessary.
Also, this means that you can use your stored vocabulary to help you learn and memorize new vocabulary.
Okay, that sounds a little cyclical there, but it’s true.
Many words share the same roots, and even if they don’t have the exact same pronunciation or spelling, you can start to recognize the similarities between some new words you just heard in a conversation and some of the ones you have stored in your memory.
When you can start recognizing these connections between words, two things will happen.
First, you will find it much easier to remember new words after just hearing them once or twice. Second, you will get a definite sense that you are starting to master the Arabic language.
Using Word Associations to Learn Arabic
Speaking of connections, one of the most effective memory techniques for learning a language is to create word associations.
Using association techniques is a great way to constantly learn and hold on to new vocabulary words.
Many students find this a great strategy because it’s often easier to remember an association between two words than it is to simply memorize a random, new word that doesn’t have any context.
On top of that, these associations can then strengthen your ability to use the words already held in your memory by adding new context to previously learned words.
How do you form word associations that work?
Obviously, this is going to be a little different for everyone, but there are some guidelines that can help you get started.
First, it’s important to use associations that are personal to you. We want you to internalize all these elements of Arabic, and that’s not going to happen if you’re simply using random associations.
An association can be with visual images, word similarities, humorous insights, and anything else that will create connections and context for every new vocabulary word. These subtle and simple clues will help you store and use new these new words when you need them.
Do It All Again
While there are some people out there who can remember new vocabulary words just by looking at them once, the rest of us will have to exercise our memories again and again to really get a grip on a whole new language.
It will be worth the effort, though. Keep at it. Practice these techniques over and over again, and soon you’ll be using new words and phrases without even thinking about it.