Expand your vocabulary AND Increase the percentage of memorized words

in writing •  last month


How to systematize your foreign language learning TOEFL/IELTS

I would like to share my approach for foreign language learning. Mainly it concentrates on expending your vocabulary (in my case for TOEFL exam), but apparently could be useful for different occasions. It helps me to increase memorability of learned words from 56% to 85% with better comprehension. Keep in mind, this method is for expanding your vocabulary not for starting learning a new language. You need to have basic understanding of desired language. My native language is Russian.

We can divide our language skills into 4 groups (which also are TOEFL exam sections):

  • Reading
  • Listening
  • Speaking
  • Writing

Increasing your personal vocabulary will positively affect all of them. For instance, faster reading, better understanding, various synonyms and accurate writing.
My previous experience of expanding vocabulary was classic method from school: write words with translations on notebook and than learn it one by one. This approach has a lot of minuses for me:

  • Routine. You can read word-to-translation or reverse, that is pretty all.
  • Pronunciation. You can write transcription but still it is not as useful as listening to native speakers.
  • Gamification. It is difficult to make your education process interesting and versatile.
  • Systematization. Assuredly the hardest one. Filter learned word from unlearned. Dividing into different topics.

So, I was looking for new approach to resolve my problem.I am had reviewed numerous apps at App Store and checked their features and finally stopped on Words.

Words application

This application is quite easy to use. It has many built-in topics and, importantly for me, the ability to create your own topics. For example, you read a new book and add new words from each chapter. Then you study these words with gamification, pronunciation and systematization.
I am sure that you can find another application if Words does not suit your needs. It costs $ 20 a year and works fine for me.

How it works

You starting with creating a topic. In my case it was words from Steve Jobs biography written by Isaacson. You adding unknown words with translation, it is convenient that you can choose whatever numbers of translations you want. When you filled topic (from my experience the amount of words between 70 to 90 works the best) you ready to start learning.


You have various exercises shown on pictures below. I am 95% of the time work on two of them: MemoryBoost and Compile word audio. Latest, is the best for rehearsals and it helps to develop your listening skills a lot.



MemoryBost is the main mode for education. It has got 7 phases/exercises. Every MemoryBoost iteration starts with 5 cards with new words. Than from phase 2 to 4 you rehears new words in different ways. It is very important to rehears not only a given word but all words available. For example, in the phase 3 on the picture below the answer is CLAUSE, but you should look another 5 words that left and try to recall their translation too. In phase 5 and 6 you need to listen given word. In phase 5 I also try to pronounce word letter by letter not looking on the screen. In the end of MemoryBoost exercise you will have an information with your progress.



Thats is well known that people have different types of memory. Words application helps you using both auditory and reading memory. App also helps you to systematize and to diversify education process. But it would be a mistake to forget about the written memory. Thats why I write down all iterations of MemoryBoost in the notebook. Then every day while I learning given topic I start with my notebook and recall all words from previous days. When I have learned all words from topic I rehears them in tenure of 7, 17, 30, 60 days. I rehears words both using notebook and Compile word audio exercise. Usually it takes 35-45 minutes for 4 iterations of MemoryBoost.


And a little bit of statistics: for last 60 calendar days I have learned 543 new words or 9 words per day and according to my rough calculations I have memorized 85 percent of them. It is also great pleasure to realize that from book to book you add less and less words to the App.

Thank you for reading!

Developer http://words.ulilab.com

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