I am trying to learn new words but pronunciation is difficult. I try to learn new words, but by the next morning I have forgotten what they were and I have to start over again. How many new words should I learn every day so that I can remember them all?

  • 5
    I think this is Off Topic. If not, it would have to be Not Constructive. How do we know how many words one particular asker is able to learn every day? There can be no "right answer". Mar 5, 2013 at 3:25
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    @Fu: Of course, there's a "right answer". Please read mine. The other two answers have some good ideas, too.
    – user264
    Mar 5, 2013 at 3:42
  • I use an ANKI deck to help with my Japanese. SRS - Spaced Repetition has also helped me learn a LOT of kanji very quickly. I've still a ways to go with it, but it is very satisfying to be able to read many things in Japanese. Jun 12, 2015 at 23:21
  • Try this app to learn more words: play.google.com/store/apps/…
    – word-lover
    Nov 2, 2018 at 16:44

8 Answers 8


A: How long should my legs be?
B: Long enough to reach the ground.

In other words, as many as you are able to learn. If you can learn 10 a day, you'll be doing great.

The more you read (stories, newspaper articles, textbooks, not EFL textbooks, but textbooks in fields that you know something about and are interested in), the more vocabulary you'll learn and the faster you'll learn it.

Don't try to memorize vocabulary lists: that's pointless because it doesn't work. To be able to remember vocabulary, you have to recycle it, which means that you have to read those words in meaningful and interesting contexts as often as possible.

My European immigrant father-in-law learned English vocabulary by reading the newspaper (with a dictionary) every day. When I was studying French last century, I read an anthropology textbook written in French. I had to use the dictionary a lot at the beginning, but by the time I'd reached page 100, I'd learned (not merely memorized) all the important vocabulary and could rapidly read the rest of the book (another 150 pages) without needing the dictionary more than once or twice every ten pages. I love to read anthropology books, so it wasn't a chore.

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    I've noticed that most of Yoichi's highly-esteemed ELU questions tend to come from news articles he's read. I wonder if he uses this technique, and then one way he "recycles" unfamiliar words and expressions is to ask about them on the Stack Exchange.
    – J.R.
    Mar 5, 2013 at 10:57
  • @J.R.: Probably. And he probably discusses them face-to- face with & in emails to his friends after reading & commenting on the answers here. He's a smart guy who seems to know what he wants, so I'd not be surprised to learn that he's using the best language-learning techniques.
    – user264
    Mar 5, 2013 at 11:25

This is a never ending task in every language. Even though I was raised speaking English, I still learn new English words from time to time. There are many websites, screen-savers, etc. whose purpose is to teach (or remind) born-and-raised English speakers of vocabulary words.

That said, I think this is really a personal choice. Some people pick up certain types of vocabulary words very quickly, others spend more time making each word part of their vocabulary. From my experience, I would say just go as fast (and learn as many new words each day) as you can comfortably and consistently remember - there's no point in wasting time on a word that you won't remember.

One trick that has helped me when learning vocabulary in English or other languages is to use "Flash Cards". Write the word on one side of a piece of paper, and the definition or sample usage on the other. Then you can flip through them every day and quiz yourself to make sure you still know each word. (It can also be fun to have someone else quiz you - take turns asking the other person a word.) You can also flip the cards over and read the definition (don't put a usage on the back in this case), and "guess" which word fits that definition.


There is no such universal magic amount of words to learn.

It is up to you how fast and how well you learn new words. There are many good techniques that can help, for example you could learn only a few words per day, and repeat them over time.

Flash cards are a practical application of this.

If over time you feel you forget the words you knew only a few days back, then you are learning them too fast, and you should slow down.

Also, there are some words harder to learn than others. It is usually related to the mother tongue of the student: the more similar both words, the easier you'll learn them (never forget false friends: similar words with different meaning for each language).


There's not a right answer for that question. It depends on you. The more you study, read and listen and practice conversation, the more you will learn.

A good habit to keep when you are learning vocabulary is to keep a word list of the words you have learned, and update it regularly. There are great sites for that, such as www.vocabulary.com.

English is not my first language, so I use that site to keep track of the words I learn, and there are great quizzes and usage examples, that help me reinforce my learning.

I also use the word frequency lists from wiktionary: http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Wiktionary:Frequency_lists#English

I usually go through the list, and find the words I don't know, and add it to my vocabulary list. It's a great way to learn the easier words that you haven't learned yet, that you should know first.


Learning single words is not effective. The brain doesn't understand why it should remember those single words. What you put into your brain at the front is thrown out again at the back because it is uninteresting for your brain.

Read books that fascinate you and work through some text for an hour and write down the words you have looked up.. You will see that you remember a lot more words. And for repetion don't read your notes, read the text and repeat only those words you have forgotten. Effective learning has certain ways. A lot of learners don't know what is effective and what is not.


Although this question already has several good answers, I think they can be improved.

How many should I learn per day?

The literature on second language acquisition is divided over exactly how many words you need to have good competency, and the estimates vary wildly over tens of thousands. From experience, my French and German were good enough to read newspapers and novels when I knew about 2000 words - but many, many more are needed to be able to read literature well. The question is therefore, how quickly do you want to learn? If you want to reach a reasonable productive competency in two years, this will equate to learning just 3 words a day. You should be able to remember those! If you want better compentency faster, you need to learn more.

The key is to only do as many as you can revise later: it's no good learning a word and just forgetting it (see below).

When I was starting Russian and Greek, I could only do about ten words at a time before reaching the "my-brain-is-melting" point and finding that no more words would go in in a single session. Chinese was worse. But I can now learn upwards of several hundred French or German words in one go: I promise that it will get easier to learn more words with times as you get used to converting between spelling and sounds, and as you get used to the combinations of sounds used in a particular language.

How can I remember words?

It is absolutely true that using words in a real-world context helps you to remember. However, the above assertion that you cannot learn from vocabulary lists is simply untrue - many education systems including China rely heavily on memorising vocabulary lists. I prefer to learn from vocabulary lists simply because I don't like looking up words when I'm reading, and I love the satisfaction of seeing a word I've learned and being able to understand it - this is what make learning languages fun for me (this of course varies)! However, I can also tell you from experience:

  1. If you are learning from vocabulary lists, you need to know the word really well before it will come naturally when you're speaking or reading or listening
  2. You can write a word out 100 times and still forget it 10 minutes later!

You should absolutely expect to forget words after you've learned them. They need to be learned on multiple occasions before they will go in. I recommend reading through them or writing them out as first contact, and then testing yourself on them orally or in writing until they've all gone in. And repeat a little later. And then on a different day.

I think it's really important to make sure you know the pronunciation when you're learning a word - and saying out loud to yourself or even in your head when you're drilling it will help you to remember it. To find the prounciation, look up how to read IPA, and find the phonetic transcription in any good dictionary. There are also websites with pronunciations. (I would recommend this even for classical languages - I have found that it really helps with learning.)

Of course - you might choose not to use vocabulary lists at all, and just look up words when you come across them: they will eventually go in as well!


I started learning 10 words per day. But I couldn't remember anyone of them as I dint use them in my general speaking. Then I started with 2 words/day with space repetition method. Those words are still in my mind somewhere. But I cant recall them so easily as again they are not in my daily use. Now I have started with peg system, and memory palace methods. And I believe I can remember as many words I want. But I need to visualize each place in my memory palace clearly.

So I would say, you can learn any number of words in a day you want. But you need to remember them longer. Different memory techniques may help you to remember them longer. But every individual has their own limits.


Actually in 8 hours, I learned 435 English vocabulary words. Using vocabulary apps on smartphone. However it's important to integrate these vocabulary words skillfully in writing and speaking. Vocab apps need to also consider having the user apply their new knowledge into practice, from easy to complex situations, and not just memorize lists of words.

  • Welcome to ELL Stack Exchange! As it stands, this is almost more of a comment than an answer. Maybe you could tell us which app you used and how it had you apply your new knowledge in practice?
    – DCShannon
    Jun 13, 2015 at 0:15
  • @DCShannon: This user previously posted an answer which did mention the app they used; for some reason, it was deleted. (Perhaps someone believed it to be spam.) Jun 13, 2015 at 0:23
  • @NathanTuggy Ah, you're right. I can see those now. Wonder why J.R. deleted it.
    – DCShannon
    Jun 13, 2015 at 0:33
  • @DCShannon - Nathan is correct; the earlier answer had been flagged as spam. (Perhaps it was intended to be a helpful answer, rather than an advertisement, but it does look suspicious when a user with a rep of 1 writes an answer that names a specific product.) I think the answer in its current form is much better suited for the Stack Exchange; I gotta think there is more than one app out there that can be used for this purpose. If JViveros wants to recommed this particular app, that could be done on the meta resources thread.
    – J.R.
    Jun 13, 2015 at 8:33
  • @J.R. Okay, fair enough. I think that the details on how it helps are probably more important than the specific app's name.
    – DCShannon
    Jun 13, 2015 at 9:39

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