IGCSE French and Spanish: 1: How do I learn all that vocab?

IGCSE French and Spanish: 1: How do I learn all that vocab?

In the first in a new series of language blogs, one of Oxford Open Learning’s tutors gives advice on learning French and Spanish vocab.

IGCSE French and Spanish: 1: How do I learn all that vocab?

If you are currently studying towards an IGCSE in French or Spanish, it won’t have escaped your notice that there is a great deal of vocabulary to learn. The syllabus is divided into different topic areas, each one containing an enormous list of vocabulary that it’s useful to know and be able to use to maximise your chances of scoring a high grade in the final exam. But what is the best way to learn it all? The short answer is that it depends on you. Every individual is different and we all have our own preferred ways of learning. Here are a number of ideas that you could try:

  • Sort the vocabulary into groups according to meaning (e.g. types of fruit) then learn each group separately. The association of meaning should help you remember them better.
  • Create a mind map for each separate topic, this will help you to remember vocab groups according to where they are on the page, so is particularly useful for students with a visual memory.
  • Create a set of cards with which to play matching games. For each word, take two cards, draw a picture or symbol to represent it on one, and the actual word on the other. A bit like returning to playschool but it’s amazing how much you learn when you’re having fun!
  • Enlist the help of a friend or relative to test you on what you think you know. Make sure they ask you for meaning, spelling, pronunciation and gender so that you know you would be able to use the word in all eventualities. Go back and revise any weak areas.
  • Create a visual display such as a poster that contains a picture for each word with labels. Stick it up somewhere prominent where you will see it inadvertently on a daily basis. This will help you to learn the words even without thinking you are studying. Post-it notes stuck around a room you spend a lot of time in can also have a similar effect.
  • Record vocabulary lists with English meanings onto an MP3/IPOD and listen to it while doing household chores or driving. Much of it should stick without too much effort.
  • Make time to regularly test yourself to see how much vocabulary you know on a certain topic, including whether each word is masculine or feminine. There’s no better learning-aid then constant revisiting and practice!
  • LOOK/COVER/WRITE/CHECK! Fail-safe and age-old; the traditional methods are often the best!

Once you are confident you know a word, how to spell it, and whether it’s masculine or feminine, re-use it as much as possible, in your writing and in conversation. That way it will become integrated into your long-term memory and eventually you will be able to use it without even thinking about it.

Good Luck!

Chloe Bullock


To find out more about studying French or Spanish visit the Oxford Open Learning webiste, or contact a Student Adviser for more details.

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