When trying to learn a new language I keep forgetting words, especially the adjectives. I think the main problem is that I don't use them at all and so after a bit I forget all the words that I don't need to know.

I have tried keeping a notebook with all the words that I have learnt but I just can't remember them if I don't repeat them for a few months.

I downloaded several apps, but I don't think it is useful because my memory only seems to work if I write things down.

Is there a way or specific technique to avoid forgetting the new words I want to learn?

  • Practising the language might be the best thing (active and passive). If you need an app that reminds you at the right dates (spaced repetition) and let's you write down the answers this is a free one. Commented Sep 7, 2016 at 9:54

4 Answers 4


Each person has a different way of storing information in their brain. You have to find a technique that works best for you. Some that you can try include:

  • Notebook: for some people, maintaining and rereading a simple list every now and then can work. Too bad it didn't for you!
  • Flashcards: make small cards with the word (and possibly some basic grammatical information) and a drawing of the referent. I recommend writing and drawing it yourself.
  • Word in context: in addition to reading the word in a dictionary, find a news article title, proverb, name of a music album, or something like that, where the word is used.
  • Mnemonic: see this question.
  • Etymology: learning the origin of a word helps me remember it, even those in my native language. Since I know some Latin, it also helps me remember the spelling of English words of Latin origin.
  • Comparative linguistics: find out how the word is related to a word in a language you already know. This may require some scientific knowledge in linguistics but it has helped me a lot. For example, I could never remember the Dutch word for bird (vogel) until I found out that it is related to the English word fowl

Another thing to keep in mind is what you have to remember. When learning English vocabulary, you should remember the spelling and the pronunciation, since you often can't figure one out from the other. When learning German vocabulary, it's usually recommended to remember the article together with the word, i.e. one should memorise das Mädchen instead of just Mädchen.


In addition to J. Siebeneichler's answer, using the language yourself is often a good way to solidify things in your brain.

One way you can do that is to try to blog at a site like lang-8 where native speakers of the language can tell you the things you do wrong with the language, and suggest ways of rewording things.

This won't work instantly, but if you gain experience using the language to actually express yourself, vocabulary will be easier to recall!

Also, flash card programs such as Anki ask you to rate how easy or hard it was to recall the vocabulary you study. And based on your answers, it reorders the cards and changes how often you see them to maximize how much you can retain through rote memorization. This is called "spaced repetition", and depending on how you learn, it can work miracles with your memory.

On top of that, if you find certain words to be particularly difficult to recall, practice saying them. One way to do this is to find sentences that use these words, and then ask someone on something like RhinoSpike to record it for you, then add that to your Anki decks. Whenever you come to that card, practice saying it, and focus on the tiniest details of how your speech differs from the native speaker.

The idea here is that making the subject of your learning something that you want to remember is a very effective way of doing that.


You say you forget after a few months. Unfortunately, there is no way around this - you have to use the language! Work hard on whatever method works for you to learn the basics and then read, watch videos, listen to podcasts and talk to people in your target language.

Writing by hand is fine, but it seems to me as if you're stuck at the beginner level. It's important to have fun with the language.

What are your interests and your goals? You don't need to learn all the words in a language, focus on those you need. If it is about basic adjectives, these should show up in any resources in the language. Words you are never going to come across in the topics you are interested in... You don't need to learn.

There should be something you'd like to do in your target language. Do that. Good luck!


I use a few techniques in order to remember the new words I have learnt. However, regular practice doesn't have any alternative. Practice as much as you can.

And another thing is just compare the words with any other things. And when you forget a specific word, just remember the things you compared with that word. This techniques really works for me and you can follow that.

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