The lazy student’s way to learn vocabulary

One thing I love about learning new languages is how easy it is to integrate learning into your day-to-day life. In other words, you can study a difficult subject while consuming entertainment, enjoying a good meal, hanging out with friends, and even learning something else at the same time.

Post-it notes
Photo by wenxin

One lazy learning tip I’d like to share is the creative use of post-it notes to learn vocabulary. I’m sure that many of you have heard of or even used this technique already, but I’ll also cover a few advanced uses which you might not have thought of before.

Post-it 101

In case you’ve never tried this before, let’s start with the basics! Post-it notes are the small, usually yellow paper rectangles with a sticky top. How can they help you learn a language?

For starters, you can label all the furniture, electronics, food, and other stuff around your house or apartment. Next time you use the TV, open the fridge, or look at the clock, read the label attached to it.

Beyond nouns

Many students introduced to post-its stop using them as soon as they learn the names of everything around their room. If you think outside of the box, however, you’ll quickly find out that this technique can easily be used for so much more than one would think of at first sight.

When you’re ready learning nouns, consider adding adjectives and other qualifiers. For example, prepend the label on the fridge with ‘white,’ the clock with ‘wall,’ and the notebook with ‘my.’

When you’re ready with this batch of vocab, consider using entire sentences (‘My favourite tea cup.’) or even questions you have to answer before using the object (‘What time is it?’).

There truly is no limit to what can be learned with post-it notes. For example, when it comes to more abstract concepts and grammar points, simply stick them to the mirror or the bathroom door, and you’ll remember them in no time.

Having a problem remembering the right sentence order or verb-ending? Stick parts of words and sentences onto magnets and rearrange them on your fridge. Learning Japanese kanji readings? Write the word in kanji on the front side, and the reading on the back of the note!

Other thoughts

The beauty of this technique is that it is infinitely expandable, requires little to no effort, and works exceptionally even if you’re learning several languages at the same time.

If things are getting too confusing, you can always use several different colours to differentiate between languages.

The key is to read or answer the labels every time you use or even just look at an object with a post-it note attached. Give it some time, and you’re bound to remember at least some of them.

Do you have any more tips on how to use post-it notes when learning a language? Please share them in the comments!

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+Philip Seyfi is a Russian independent strategy consultant and entrepreneur, author of NihongoUp, and co-founder & CEO of EduLift.

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  • DrT

    I will try this!

  • Vinn

    Thanks for the advice! It sounds effective!