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How to Remember New Words

Why is it embarrassing when you forget someone’s name? It suggests that you don’t care about them.

What about if you forget words in English? It means you’re wasting your time and you need to change your strategy. Here’s how:

First word

For most English people, the easiest word to remember in Russian is брат. That’s because there’s an English word brat, which means ‘a badly behaved child’. That’s how English people remember their brothers.


If you want to remember a new word, you should to create a story that will fix the word in your memory.

If the story is emotional or indecent, you’re more likely to remember it. You remember your first kiss. You’ve forgotten your trip to work yesterday.


If you need inspiration, then words have stories built into them: their etymology. The Oxford English Dictionary gives the origin of every word, including brat.

Try to recognise common roots in different words. Infer, refer, defer, prefer are all based on a Latin word that means to bring.


If you’re determined about learning, then you should be reading, listening and watching English. Many people didn’t know the meaning of the word serendipity until it became the title of a film.

Online applications

There are plenty of online applications designed to help you learn languages by applying these principles. Our favorite is Memrise, which was set up by psychology students.