By Katie Azevedo, M.Ed.
I have written plenty of posts about studying vocabulary words (here’s one, and here’s another) – but that’s because vocab is central to so many subjects in school. Seriously, can you name me a subject where you wouldn’t need to learn vocabulary?
The strategy I outline below is a fun way to study vocabulary words, especially for visual learners. It’s a technique that can help you understand new words in a way that most of our brains prefer to store information: in pictures.
The strategy is simple, really.
Fun way to study vocabulary words
Here’s how the hack works:
Write out a word, working in the definition or meaning of the word into the letters themselves. Each word, therefore, becomes a visual representation of what it means.
For example, if you are learning the word condescend, you could write the letters of the word in a descending line (like a staircase), with a stick figure standing on top of the first “c,” looking down at the rest of the letters.
Or if you’re learning the word loquacious (talkative), you could make mouths out of each “u” in the word, and then make the “q” into a speech bubble — all to remind yourself that the word means talkative.
The next time you see the word, your brain will have an easier time recalling the IMAGE you drew out of the letters, and from there you will better remember the definition.
Designing the letters of a word to represent its meaning is an effective (and fun) way to study vocabulary words because the letters themselves become triggers for our memories.
We don’t have to remember some random picture we associated with the word; instead, our memories are stimulated by the letters that are right in front of us.
When we see the word loquacious, for instance, we will quickly recall the letter “u” looking like a mouth, and that will trigger our brains to recall the definition.
Although this study tip may seem like it’s just a fun way to study vocabulary for visual learners, it’s more than that.
It’s a strategy that taps into our brain’s cognitive power to store and recall images. In other words, it works.