Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

I Just Discovered the Best Way to Learn New Terms for School

  1. Jul 21, 2012 #1
    I noticed that alot of people simply use flashcards over and over again for studying the terminology of various subjects. Or they just re-read the terms and their definitions over and over again from their notes or textbook. While this can help you study for an exam via cramming, the problem is those methods (rote memorization-based) don't really help add those terms and vocabulary into your daily vocabulary for long-term usage. For example, I don't think most people would still be able to use most of those terms weeks much less years after the exam.

    In order to actually have various terms and vocabulary become integrated into your vocabulary, you should probably use those terms extensively in various sentences you've can come up with. For example, I was just studying about Circadian Rhythms (your biological clock), Entraining (i.e. changing your biological clock), and Zeitgeber (this literally meaning "time giver". Zeitgeber, by the way, is defined as "factors that change your biological clock such as the amount of light or darkness time, your work schedule, and your exercising habits) I noticed how much easier and more proficient using those terms in sentences helps in learning the terms.

    For the above three, bolded terms, an example of a meaningful and interesting sentence they could be used in would be this: "My Circadian Rhythms were entrained by Zeitgebers such as the constant daylight of the Sweden's winter. This resulted in sleeping difficulty for me".

    Does this make sense? I think this is a pretty amazing discovery I just found. I only wished I discovered or knew about it earlier.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 21, 2012 #2
    What about math and physics?
  4. Jul 21, 2012 #3


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    The concept of learning vocabulary by using words in sentences rather than than using thing like flash cards has been around for at least 100 years, probably longer, so no I don't think it's all that amazing that you have "discovered" it.

    It's a good technique and served me well when I was studying for the SAT's about 50 years ago.
  5. Jul 21, 2012 #4
    I believe you're onto something. Actually using the word to convey its meaning is active rather than passive, and will stick it more firmly in your mind.
  6. Jul 21, 2012 #5
    It makes perfect sense.
    I often debate online quite a bit about similar topics, and use some rather esoteric words because of the nature of the debates, and I've noticed those carried over into my every day speech. I sometimes catch myself about to use one of those words and purposely not use it just so people don't think I'm trying to sound smart, or because I'm 99% sure they wouldn't know what that word means, even though it would have been a legitimate usage. When I'm online though, I'll use any word because if a person doesn't know what the word means, then they can open up a new tab and go look it up. Or they can double click the word if they have the same application I have that brings up a small window showing the definition of the word you double clicked.
  7. Jul 23, 2012 #6
    You still need to use the words to some regularity. Besides you can do that either through reading your textbooks a lot (which gives you a meaningful context to put those words in. That is one of the main ways we are able to acquire so many words in vocabulary) and doing problems (which require you to process the terms and vocabulary in such a way that it can be used in a meaningful context).

    I never claimed that nobody knew about this before I "discovered" it. What I meant by "discovered" is that I suddenly realized how effective this method was a few days ago (even though I heard of this somewhere before, I didn't start using it until recently).
  8. Jul 23, 2012 #7
    Psych101 I also think that is an amazing discovery! Not sure where phinds head is at with his "not your discovery" comment clearly it is yours.

    That is a great way to learn new vocabulary. In particular the strong context the sentence/paragraph provides & how that will place it into the "right place" in you memory.

    What's more I think a very confident + positive attitude is hopeful when learning, good on ya!
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook