IWTYAL 211: Best practice for vocabulary notebooks

Aral asks: “What’s the best way to organise my vocabulary notebook?”

Episode Summary:


  • Upcoming guests
  • New French Book
  • Conversations
  • British Sign Language course

Today’s podcast:

  • How valuable is the time you’re spending organising a vocabulary notebook?
  • What’s the value of a vocabulary notebook in and of itself? Does it help?
  • The big question: Will you ever look at it again?
  • Some people recommend keeping exhaustive notebooks with every conceivable detail about the new word, organising thematically, etc…
  • I’ve tried all this before, but it’s too slow!
  • Steve Kaufmann’s thinking: How are you going to cover enough new vocabulary to make progress, if you spend so much time on each individual word?

My 80/20 of vocabulary notebooks:

  • Get your vocabulary from rich, compelling context (reading, listening, speaking)
  • Write things down if you find it helpful
  • Choose only the most useful words and learn them using your favourite process

Resources mentioned in today’s episode:

Start Speaking Today:

I’d like to thank italki for supporting the show. To claim your free lesson and start speaking today, visit: https://iwillteachyoualanguage.com//italkishownotes

Do you have a question?

Ask me your language learning questions by clicking here, and I’ll do my best to feature it on the show!

Also, please subscribe to the show on iTunes to get automatic updates.

Thanks so much for listening to this episode of the podcast!

If you’ve got any comments about the show then please leave them in the “comments” section below!

If you’d like to help me out, then I’d love it if you could…

  • Share the episode using the social media buttons around you
  • Leave an honest review and rating of the podcast on iTunes (click here to do that)

iTunes reviews in particular really help the rankings of the podcast and help me to reach other aspiring language learners out there!

See you in the next episode of the I Will Teach You A Language podcast!

Free 3-Day Email Course


How To Memorize Words In Any Language...And NOT Forget Them later!

Powered by ConvertKit
Olly's Top Resources For Learning:
  • Paulina

    Hello Olly! That was an interesting podcast. Thank you for sharing your ideas. I think I should start to choose only the most important words to learn, because when I’m reading or listening something I tend to write down everything and usually the list is big which is very overwhelming and it’s so discouraging I rarely look at this list again, but I feel like everything is important and I’m afraid that if I don’t learn a word I can need it in the future. I know I could learn it later e.g. from different book, but I can’t get rid of this feeling. I am interested how you decide which words are the most important. Are those the ones that are most often repeated in a text/conversation etc.? And approximately how many words do you choose to learn from the first list of all words? You said that you aren’t a big fan of writing your own sentences or stories with new words, but do you think that it can be treated as a “Try” from your ART technique?

    • Yes, it can. However, I prefer to do it in speaking, because you get to see if the other person actually understands what you say.

  • dandiprat

    This is something that I struggle with. I feel like some vocabulary review would be the most efficient way to learn as long as it doesn’t get out of control, and I think it would also benefit my writing a bit to pay more attention to looking at words, but I never seem to be able to stick with it for very long. The only thing I seem to be able to stick with these days is practicing listening. I review listening passages frequently and so I can review the words in context and often remember them when listening to this passage, but when I hear them elsewhere I often don’t remember (although I am more likely to remember them when reading them).

    • For me, that’s when speaking comes into it’s own – actively recalling the words I’m mining from my listening, which seems to deepen my understanding of them and ability to recognise.