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Aug 8, 2011

Aim for One New Word

Building vocabulary via sentences is a great way to learn new words in context and potentially review words you already know at the same time. But what happens when a sentence contains more than one new word? Having multiple new words can make it much more difficult to handle a sentence, so here are some ideas to try if you run into this problem.

Avoid Multiple Word Sentences:

The first approach to sentences with multiple words is to just avoid them. If you find a good sentence that contains additional words you don't know, simply pass it by. There are plenty of other sentences out there, so you don't need that particular one. Dig around and find sentences that only have words you know in addition to your new target word.

Sometimes, especially early on in the journey, it can be tough to find sentences without at least one additional unknown word. If you can't avoid a sentence with multiple words to learn, or if you really want a particular sentence, then here are some tactics to make it manageable.

Add Extra Sentences:

To make it easier to handle a sentence with multiple new words, simply add more sentences that focus on each of the words in the sentence. For example, if you added a sentence with two words that you're learning, then you would add an extra 1-2 sentences that feature the first word and 1-2 sentences that feature the second word. Doing this will increase how often you'll encounter each word, so you'll be more likely to succeed when you come across the sentence with both of them together.

Focus the Sentence:

Instead of adding a sentence with multiple new words and aiming to know the whole thing, try adding that same sentence multiple times and focusing on a single word in each instance. An example would be a sentence with three words. Make the sentence card as usual and bold one of the new words. That word is now your focus for the sentence - rate your understanding of the card with a heavy emphasis on that single word. Now add the same sentence two more times, with a different word bold each time. Now instead of having a single sentence with three words to master all at once, you have three sentences and three different targets.

With these tactics and some additional patience, sentences with multiple words won't be a problem. I'm sure there are other tricks and methods, so feel free to experiment and share your results.

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