When you start learning Spanish, or actually any language, vocabulary is one of the key aspects you should pay extra attention to. Here are some tips I have put together for you to be successful when learning your new VOCABULARIO.
Why should I study my vocabulary?
Well, first of all, vocabulary represents an essential skill to communicate with others in any language, a way to learn about their culture, passions, history, etc. Learning words is critical to reading, writing, speaking and listening success, since they are involved in every aspect of our lives. Some words in Spanish might be similar to your native tongue, for example, words like FAMILIA, AUTO, PERSONA, EXACTO. These are easy to memorize. But there are others, like for example TECHO (roof or ceiling), PISO (floor), PANTALLA (screen), that will probably be completely different. So, studying them is absolutely necessary, but of course, if you stick to a methodical and disciplined way, you will learn them much more easily and the results will last longer.
I find that keeping a vocabulary log is extremely useful, and it's even better, from my personal experience as a Spanish teacher, when you use a pencil and actually write the words, rather than just copying and pasting them on your computer (in the case of online classes). I would definitely recommend keeping a vocabulary log apart from a regular notebook where you could copy your other notes from the lesson, including corrections, grammar, just to name some. If all your new vocabulary is mixed together with your other notes, you will probably find it more difficult to tell what to study, in what order, how to study it, and so on.
I normally suggest imagining a line dividing a page into 2 columns: on the left you can write the words in Spanish, and then the meanings in your mother tongue, on the right column. Personally I think this is useful since the first thing you see is the word you are trying to learn. I also suggest keeping a "long" distance between the word and the meaning, so you can cover the meaning with your hand or a piece of paper easily. This method is Write, Look, Cover, Repeat (WLCR). So, instead of "Casa: house", I would recommend "Casa house"
Study smarter, not harder
The more you practice, the better. But, if you have to choose between studying for, say, 4 hours, once a week, or studying for 25 or 30 minutes, say, 6 days a week...I would recommend the latter, which is a more impactful learning strategy. By spacing out your study sessions over short periods of time during the week, the total time will probably be the same, but much more effective. Frequency is extremely important to incorporate words/concepts, because your brain has the chance to process them while you are sleeping, and you will probably learn them more deeply. But please, be careful not to procrastinate, this strategy is effective if you respect those short sessions, if not, you are simply not studying enough.
Apart from simply memorizing a word and its meaning, you can relate it with whatever helps you remember. For example, let's say you are trying to learn the word DELGADO (slim). You could think of a DELLE (pronounced /del/) laptop (I am just making this up as I write), and how slim it is. So, next time you think of the word del-gado, you will remember your slim laptop. You can also associate words with some parts of them, for example, the word VENTANA (window), you can associate the first part "vent-", and remember the word VIENTO (wind), or any other association you find effective.
I hope you have found these tips useful!
Do you have a specific method to learn VOCABULARIO? How often do you study it? What do you find effective? Please share your experience :)