How can I put words I don't often use into my long term memory? I have trouble doing this, as I think I know them, and a few weeks later I can't remember them.

For example, a word I am trying to learn is 버스 정류장, which means 'bus stop'. I never, in any conversations I ever have even in English, use 'bus stop'. So, I soon forget 버스 정류장 because I just haven't used it.

I have even greater problems in Mandarin, as I am forced to remember the characters. In Korean, soemti

Are there any tactics to get around this problem?

  • 3
    If you never use the words, in any language, how much value is there in remembering them anyway? :)
    – Flimzy
    Sep 11, 2016 at 8:37
  • 1
    I agree with @Flimzy. If you have this problem, it means that you aren't learning vocabulary in the right order. Can you already express all the words that you do use in other languages you know? If not, start with them.
    – michau
    Oct 4, 2016 at 15:22
  • Yes, I can. I just don't know what new words to learn, what order to do them in. After studying all the stuff I learned in other languages, I don't know which categories of words I should learn (I even analysed which words I used the most in English speech). Do you have any ideas on what to do about that? Is there a question already on it? @michau Oct 4, 2016 at 17:13
  • 1
    @Lythric Of course it all depends on your reasons for learning a language, but if you are already so advanced (I assume it must mean you know over ~10K words), I see no point in spending time on explicit learning of new vocabulary. Simply use the language in whatever way you want to use it, and you'll automatically pick up any new words you need to know.
    – michau
    Oct 4, 2016 at 18:01
  • I am at a stage where I can easily converse with a native speaker, but say I one day go to Korea, then how will I know what some explicit sign is? I don't think I ever say 'viaduct' in any conversation I ever have, or any website I ever read, but I still think of the word when I see a viaduct. That's my worry, even though my original goal was just communication. Oct 4, 2016 at 18:32

2 Answers 2


Spaced Repetition is a great way to remember such words. Spaced Repetition can be done using paper flashcards, or computer software.

The Leitner system is a simple way to do the employ the technique using paper flash cards.

This article provides links to a number of such programs.

Anki is perhaps the most popular, but sadly also one of the more complex to learn. Even given its complex UI and other problems, I use it heavily, as do many others here.


I agree with Flimzy in that Spaced Repetition is best. I don't think Anki has that high of a learning curve, but for something a bit simpler but with less flexibility, I personally enjoy using Memrise.

Memrise emphasizes the use of mneumonics when learning. When I learned Chinese characters, their mneumonics made the characters much more memorable by morphing them into pictures. Memrise includes thousands of user-submitted mneumonics for lots of languages that make them easier to learn.

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