Keeping a decent vocabulary list is key to making progress in a foreign language. It’s the marker in the sand that ensures knowledge sticks.
Only you can do it: a good list needs to be composed of words or phrases that you find helpful, interesting or difficult – and only you can know which ones they are. Pick them up listening or reading, or search them out every time you find yourself stuck for the right French word.
You should find your collection grows fast – and soon wondering how to manage it.
Some people are most at ease with pen and paper. But if you’re used to working with computers, there are apps out there that can help you stay on top.
Workflowy, is a bullet point tool. But unlikely bullet points in standard word-processing document, which never seem to behave how I want them to, these ones are designed to be easy to manipulate.
You can can add infinite layers of depth to your structure, moving content about or reordering lists with a simple drag and drop movement.
That flexibility means you can keep reworking your lists as they grow, grouping words into themes such as subject matter or sources of difficulty. It’s the ease with which you can structure your information that’s the power of the app. The end result is your own personal thesaurus – a tool that you can use to keep refreshing your memory and broaden your range.
It takes around half an hour to get used to. If you do take to it, it’s one of those tools that you end up sticking with forever. The free version is limited to 250 entries per month – it’s $49 a year if you decide to upgrade to the full version. You can give it a try, and earn a bonus 100 entries a month, using this link.
Keeping a vocabulary list means being able to write with accents. With an English keyboard that can be a nuisance – and even on a French keyboard it’s not easy to find capitalised accents.
If Chrome is your go-to browser, you can use the free add-on Text Blaze to get round the problem. It enables you to create customised shortcuts of your own. Most keyboards have a more or less redundant key in the top left corner. It’s an ideal candidate for creating keystroke combinations that will generate the accents you need.
For example on my French keyboard, writing the following two characters in a row ²é produces É
You can get Text Blaze for Chrome here.