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#3. Is learning vocabulary lists a good idea?

Updated: Aug 28

If I give you three words to learn, say ‘bleu, ‘jaune’, and ‘tournesol, i.e. 'blue', 'yellow', and 'sunflower' with no context attached to those words, you won’t remember any by the end of this post.

If, on the other hand, I tell you that in order to create the image illustrating it, I chose ‘bleu’ as the background colour, ‘jaune’ for the title (‘le titre’) and that the flower I always use on this website to illustrate anything to do with language learning is called ‘un tournesol’, from ‘tourner’= to turn and ‘sol’= sun, because sunflowers turn their heads towards the sun, you are more likely to remember those three words. And perhaps even how to say ‘title’ in French.

While rote learning is a necessary part of language learning, when it comes to conjugations, learning endless lists of vocabulary is not only dull, but a waste of time. Practising all four skills, especially reading, on the other hand, is the best way to expand your vocabulary in a natural way and to remember it.

Language points without context are useless and hard to remember.

As I tell my students, their job, once a language point has been studied, is to put it immediately into practice by writing examples that are both personal and memorable, and by reading books/watching films & series/listening to podcasts, and therefore coming across said language point in many different contexts. How else will they remember it?

More about my teaching approach

Don't hesitate to send me your questions.

#1. Is it too late to learn a language?

#2. Not knowing the word is not the end of the conversation

#3. Is learning vocabulary lists a good idea?

#4. Should I use bilingual books?

#5. Practising all four skills equally

#6. On the importance of making mistakes

#7. You know more than you think you do

#8. Can everyone learn a language?

#9. With or without subtitles?

#10. Should I use a dictionary?

#11. What's the main obstacle when learning a language?

#12. There's no such thing as perfect sentences

#13. Learning French when English is your mother tongue

#14. Listening is key

#15. Language learning does not mean translating

#16. The right tools to learn a language

#17. Why grammar matters

#18. Leaving your linguistic comfort zone behind

#19. About rote learning

#20. Assessing your own level

#21. Language learning is pattern spotting

#22. Key skills you need to learn a language

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