For many people who study Spanish learning vocabulary is a long and tedious process. In this post I will give you some insights that will allow you to learn vocabulary in a fun and effective way.
The approach to learning Spanish vocabulary should vary depending on your level of Spanish.
FOR BEGINNER LEVEL LEARNERS
When you are a beginner everything is more difficult. Every step requires a considerable amount of effort, because you know nothing, or very little,about the language.
Many teachers and students tackle this issue the hard way. Some schools provide beginner students with endless lists of Spanish words, sometimes completely unrelated, which they must learn by heart.
Another way of learning vocabulary is through flashcards. This system works relatively well for some people, especially if they combine it with some kind of spaced repetition software. If you decide to use this method, I strongly recommend that those flashcards contain entire sentences where the word appears, otherwise, you will not be able to put those words into the context of a sentence.
It is very dangerous to learn Spanish vocabulary in isolation, because then you will not be able to use it in context. You will not know how to use the right preposition, verb, or other part of speech.
My recommendation for a beginner, unless you are a fan of flashcards, is to learn vocabulary by reading. Since your vocabulary in Spanish will probably be minimal, it is recommended that you use elementary grade books with audio according to your level of Spanish.
Using these will provide the opportunity to improve your pronunciation and intonation at the same time as you are learn new vocabulary. You can integrate the shadowing technique here. https://bit.ly/2Ia2D0t
It is very important at the beginner level that you use books of appropriate complexity, because if the books you read are too difficult for your level, you will find them boring and there will be too many words that you have to look up in the dictionary.
In my view, it is easier to learn the new words if a book is suited to your language proficiency level. For example, if you are an intermediate level learner or lower, you can focus on learning more common vocabulary that is used in daily life situations instead of a more academic vocabulary.
FOR INTERMEDIATE LEVEL LEARNERS
I recommend that you continue using graded reading books with audio. It is very important that the vocabulary you learn become active. That´s why I recommend that you use the new words that you learn in conversations. If you do not have anyone to talk to, talk to yourself, using those new words that you learned while reading.
You may wish to start reading books on topics you are interested in. For example, if you are an engineer it might be interesting to become familiar with that kind of vocabulary.
When you read I do not recommend that you look every unknown word in the dictionary (unless you are using an e–book).That may be tiring and many of the words that you may find might be irrelevant. If they appear again you might guess the meaning thanks to the context.
The idea is that reading must be pleasant and you will learn tons of new vocabulary in an interesting and subconcious way. If the word appears several times, it is relevant and you are not able to figure out the meaning, then you should look it up in a dictionary.
At the upper intermediate level, you might read books that are not graded, even if the level is higher than yours. If you are interested in the topic that will motivate you and you will learn faster and more easily.
FOR ADVANCED LEVEL LEARNERS
As I said before reading is my favorite approach for learning Spanish vocabulary. At the advanced level it is critical that you read a lot.
For those considering siting an advanced DELE exam, I recommend that they use a notebook where they write less common words that they do not know.
Using a couple of sentences for each word and reviewing those periodically will help them to acquire a more sophisticated vocabulary. It will be very important that those words become part of your active vocabulary. That is why you should try to use them when you speak and write.
At this level you must read as much as possible. Read about what you love. If you love a subject, there will be an emotional involvement and you will remember the new vocabulary more easily.
But you should also try to broaden the topics you read about. An advanced student of Spanish should have a wide vocabulary that covers a vast array of conversation topics, and by reading about topics you are not familiar with, you will be able to speak and write about almost everything.