Study Tip: How to Create a Useful Vocabulary Journal

In our academic courses, new vocabulary is coming at us all the time. It can be hard to keep up with all of the new words, and to sort through them in a meaningful way. In this article, you’ll learn how to keep an effective vocabulary journal that will help you to remember all of the new vocabulary you are learning in your courses. Keeping a vocabulary journal, or set of flashcards is a proven way to help increase your ability to remember new words. 

Step 1: Find a place to keep your work 

Will you use a hard copy journal? Will you use flash cards? Decide which way would be easiest for you and stick to it. Make sure that you keep your vocabulary journal somewhere that is easy to access so you can add to it quickly. 

Step 2: Add new vocabulary words 

Have you ever been reading a novel and come across some unfamiliar words? Add them to the list! Or have you been studying for biology and find a word that you don’t know? Add it to the list! The great thing about keeping a vocabulary journal is that it is personal to you – you decide what words are added. 

 Step 3: Create the vocabulary entry 

Once you have some words on your list, you can start making entries in your vocabulary journal. Each new vocabulary word should get its own page. On this page you will put the following information: 

·         Definition 

·         Facts or characteristics 

·         Examples 

·         Non-examples 

As a bonus, you can even add a picture to help you remember the new vocabulary word. 

You may want to divide your page into quarters (four sections to do this) or you could put the information in a list under headings. Either way, you will be good to go as long as you have all of the information. 

So how does this help you to learn new vocabulary? 

1.   It helps you to make connections to the information you already know. When we make connections, it is easier for us to recall information and see how it fits into the bigger picture. 

2.   Visuals are always helpful. Some people are visual learners, some are good at remembering specific written information; by presenting the definition in four to five different ways, you are creating four to five different ways you can remember that information. 

3.   The process of making the journal entry is studying itself! 

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