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Mastering Portuguese Vocabulary: A Strategy for Faster Recall. How to Memorize Portuguese Vocabulary Words and Phrases Faster

No matter what Portuguese language course you're taking, you'll eventually need to learn a list of vocabulary words or phrases.

In this article, I'd like to share several important reasons why this is important and necessary, as well as a 7-step method I developed on how to do it efficiently and faster.

Although the focus of this article is how to learn the vocabulary lists provided in this website, you can apply this information to any other Portuguese course.

The Importance Of Vocabulary Lists In Learning Portuguese

Learning and memorizing Portuguese vocabulary words is crucial as it forms the foundation of language learning. Here are some reasons why:

  • Communication: Vocabulary is the building block of language, and the ability to communicate effectively requires a good understanding of words and their meanings. As a Portuguese language student, you need to learn basic vocabulary to be able to communicate in everyday situations like introducing yourself, asking for directions, or ordering food in a restaurant.
  • Comprehension: Without knowing the vocabulary, it can be difficult for you to understand written or spoken Portuguese. Learning basic vocabulary words can help you comprehend simple texts and conversations.
  • Confidence: Knowing a range of vocabulary can boost your confidence in speaking and writing in Portuguese. The more vocabulary you learn, the more comfortable you'll become with Brazilian Portuguese.
  • Progression: Vocabulary is a key component of language learning, and without learning new words, you may struggle to progress to higher levels. You need to build a strong foundation of vocabulary to be able to understand and express themselves effectively in the language.

A 7-Step Process For Learning And Retaining New Vocabulary

To learn and memorize new words, you'll typically be given a list of 10 or more words. Although it may seem challenging to memorize all of them, there's a way to quickly and effectively commit them to memory.

As you'll see, the 7-step method I'm about to share not only helps you commit the words or phrases to memory, but will also help you retain and recall the information.

Here is the 7-step method that can help you memorize and recall new words or phrases more effectively:

  1. Divide the Vocabulary List: Start by breaking down the list of words or phrases into small groups of around 5 words/phrases each. The exact number can be flexible, but the idea is to make it manageable and easier to focus on.
  2. Set a Timer: Once you have the first small group of words/phrases, set a timer to track the amount of time it takes you to memorize and familiarize yourself with this group. This step is critical and you shouldn't skip it.
  3. Memorize and Recall: Go through the small group of words/phrases, studying and repeating them until you feel confident you can recall them without looking at the list.
  4. Record the Time: After memorizing the first group, write down the time it took to memorize and recall that particular "chunk" of words/phrases. This will serve as a benchmark for the next step.
  5. Speed Recall Practice: Now, let's see how fast you can remember those words/phrases. Here's what to do:
    • Reset and start the timer.
    • Go over the same group of words/phrases again and try to recall them as quickly as possible while speaking them out loud.
    • Once you've recalled the last word or phrase stop the timer.
    • Write down the time it took you to recall and say out loud the entire group.
  6. Repeat Recalling Exercise: Repeat the recall exercise (step 5) at least three more times, aiming to beat your previous time with each repetition. These repetitions will reinforce the memorization of the words/phrases and improve your long-term memory retention of them.
  7. Review and Repeat for Other Groups: Repeat this process for each small group of words/phrases in the list.

Supercharging The Chunking Technique With A Timer

At the heart of this 7-step process is a time-tested memorization and learning technique called "chunking". In "chunking", information is broken down into smaller, manageable pieces, or "chunks," which are easier to remember and process.

By grouping larger pieces of information together into smaller “chunks”, our brain can process and store them more efficiently, leading to better recall and understanding of the material.

Timing yourself while you memorize and recall the group of 5 words or phrases supercharges the chunking technique. The timer helps you stay focused on the task and track your progress.

In addition, repetition of the memorization of the group of 5 words/phrases adds even more power to this technique. This repetition helps to fix them in your memory.

Achieving Mastery: Prioritizing Recall Over Speaking Speed

Though learning and memorizing new vocabulary words or phrases can be challenging, the 7-step process I've outlined here will make it more manageable and easier to accomplish.

As a final thought, I want to point out that the purpose of timing yourself while memorizing "chunks" of words or phrases is to improve recall by helping you stay focused on the task, not speaking speed. It is important to enunciate the words or phrases.

If you find yourself trying to beat your previous time while practicing this 7-step process by speaking faster, don't worry. Instead, slow down your speaking speed and remember that the objective is to improve recall, not speaking speed.