The importance of learning new words in context

At WordBrewery, we believe that context-based learning is one of the cornerstones of fluency. Language learners are best served by studying vocabulary within the context of an authentic sentence, just as native speakers use and encounter language.

If you isolate a word from its actual usage and just try to memorize its most common translation, you run a high risk of misusing the word or forgetting it entirely. That’s why WordBrewery allows users to create study lists of not just vocabulary words, but practice sentences. We are currently working on a Quiz Mode that will let you quiz yourself on vocabulary in your study list with practice sentences that use the words you’ve chosen in context.

When you first encounter a new word, try to use it in a short sentence with vocabulary you already know. If possible, try to find other sentences that use the same word; this will optimize your understanding of the word in various contexts. Try this out using WordBrewery’s Explore Mode. When you click on a word that interests you, another sentence using the same word will appear below, allowing you to see the word in two separate contexts. Click it again and you may see yet another example (depending on how many times the word currently appears in our database, which currently includes hundreds of thousands of sentences in nineteen languages and is always automatically growing and improving itself).

You can extend the context-based learning approach to the context of themes by building thematic study lists. Create WordBrewery study lists specific to your interests – for example, business-related words if you travel abroad for work. Once you create associations between words on this list, you’ll be able to access them in your memory more quickly when you need to use them in a business meeting. WordBrewery is also building premade, themed study lists about topics like Business German, Medical Spanish, and SAT / GRE / TOEFL English so learners can choose to focus on a specialized list of vocabulary.

Click here to receive new WordBrewery blog posts by email or RSS, and click here to join our email community. Your support helps us grow and build more useful features and content for language learners around the world.