Work smarter, not harder


That is a concept that applies to all the areas of our lives and language learning isn’t any different.

There are a lot of ways of working smarter when learning.

Memorising vocabulary is one of them.

First of all, you don’t want to be looking up every single word in the dictionary. And you definitely don’t want to try and memorise all the new words you have come across. You have to go smarter about it. Choose only the words that you would use in your mother tongue. If you come across a word that you would never say or use in your personal discourse, don’t even bother to learn it. Focus only on the words that you find useful for you. If you already know a synonym don’t be overly ambitious, you will be fine without this new word. Save your mental energy for other expressions that might be more useful and practical for your specific situation.

Another tip

When you are offered a list of different ways to say the same thing choose one way and learn it well. One well said phrase is more valuable than three not quite well learned expressions.

Don’t forget pronunciation

Focus on meaning but also pay special attention to pronunciation. Learning the right pronunciation the first time will save you from a lot of misunderstandings later and will help your listening too. You can’t expect to hear and understand the right word if you think it is pronounced differently.

Some examples

Let’s take work, word and walk, for example. (Click on the words for the right pronunciation). Master saying those very basic words and you will notice a real difference in your understanding and communication. If you want to sound more natural, make sure you pronounce well these too: interesting, vegetable and chocolate.

Turning to grammar

In terms of grammar, try to master the form as soon as possible. Learn the rule and apply it as children do. They could sometimes say ‘I seed a film’ when using the past simple, for example. This means they have mastered the general rule and apply it actively. With time they will remember the exceptions but without knowing this basic rule they couldn’t even make a sentence.  

Speaking and writing

When speaking or writing, don’t try to translate the overly complicated phrases you tend to use in your mother tongue. Use what you know, what you are sure of and you will notice how your mistakes will magically vanish into thin air. Your communication will be clearer and you will get better results.

So what are you waiting for to start working smarter and not harder?


Look up – to search for, as an item of information, in a reference book

Come across – to find or encounter, especially by chance

Vanish into thin air – disappear without a trace