3 Mistakes To Avoid When Learning Vocabulary In a New Language

Strategies to optimize your language learning process

Daniel A
4 min readMay 2


Photo by Cathryn Lavery on Unsplash

When I first started studying Spanish, I thought learning vocabulary would be the easiest part.

I believed I only needed to come across new words and they would eventually make it into my daily vernacular. I was so excited to discover a new language that I understandably did not want to be slowed down by any trivial task.

Maybe you are in the same situation: you just started your language-learning journey and you can’t wait to jump into the grand ocean of knowledge in front of you. Even though this excitement should not be contained, I wish I had known there still are some mistakes to avoid when learning vocabulary in a new language.

Here are 3 of them.

1. Not writing it down

When we first start learning a new language, its lexicon can seem gigantic and infinite right? There are so many categories to learn just to make a simple sentence but we want to be able to express our thoughts as soon as possible. Thus, we may be tempted to simply skim through a dictionary and make sentences as we go.

While this can help better your searching and categorizing skills, throughout my experience, I found that not writing new words down only meant forgetting or butchering them a few months down the line. Why? Because writing vocabulary appeals to multiple capabilities related to strengthening memory.

Indeed, it appeals to motor and visual skills which can help students whose dominant learning method is kinaesthetic or visual. Moreover, reading the word as it enters your lexicon improves pronunciation and will facilitate identification in future practice exercises.

For example, when I started learning Korean, I loved my vocabulary notebook because it meant I could print out new words in a new alphabet, and recognizing them in new sentences became all the more meaningful.

2. Ignoring active recall

This mistake relates to the previous point as writing your vocabulary down is only the first step of the journey: you need to practice.



Daniel A

I write to help you be more productive, sharpen your linguistic skills and develop your literary abilities. I enjoy discussing the world around us and more.