If you’ve tried learning a foreign language, you have likely made flashcards a part of that study. And we encourage it for helping learn vocabulary! But what happens? You spend time writing the cards, color-coding them, putting them in neat little piles, all ready for use. At that point, however, something else comes along and you never find the time or energy to sit down again with your flashcards to get down to some serious studying.

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Sound familiar? What if there were a way you could study vocabulary in a similar way to using flashcards, but more passively and without having to sit down and study them? We have an idea for you --- use post-it notes!

📝 The Post-it Note Practice Method

Like a lot of people, you likely have a stack of spare post-it notes, or could pick some up very quickly in a store nearby. Once you have them, you can use them along with objects in your home to create a kind of interactive language learning game.

If you’re learning Chinese, for instance, you could write “电视 Dian Shi” on the post-it and stick it to your television. As you get familiar with seeing it, you can also start saying it replacing the word in your native language with the Chinese word until you get familiar. You can do the same thing with all kinds of objects in your home. You’ll quickly see a boost in your vocabulary level.

Tips for Making the Post-it Method more Effective
Sticking notes all over your apartment is easy enough, but there are ways you can optimize the exercise to make it both engaging and useful.

#1 Color-code your post-it notes
In many European languages, for example, the “gender” of the word is important, so you could use different colors on objects to reflect that. Another idea is that you could use one color of post-it on the object, and maybe add a different color one containing adjectives that describe the word, or a sentence structure in which you could easily use that word.


Main Post-it = Fridge
Sub Post-it = cold, big, (adj.) or “Put…in the…” (Sentence)

#2 Don’t stick them around excessively
If you overdo it, you run the risk of recreating that scene from Bruce Almighty where the house and everyone in it gets covered in notes. That’s not useful. Crowding the post-it notes makes it harder to distinguish them and for you to focus in on the words you want.

Once you’ve mastered some words, take those post-its down and create new ones.

#3 Say the words aloud when you see them
It won’t do much good to just see the word over and over. If you have a post-it on the TV, fridge, kettle or other object, say that word as you go up to it. This action will reinforce the word in your mind and help you retain new vocab.

Once you’ve mastered the words, try to say them in sentences. Instead of just saying “fridge,” try saying “open the fridge” or “the fridge is cold.”

#4 Test yourself at friends’ places
When you visit friends, test yourself to see how well you remember your vocabulary by trying out your techniques on objects in their homes. If you know the word instantly and can say it, even use it in a sentence, then you know that that particular post-it has done its job.

Why go to all this trouble?
To some, to write and stick post-its all around may seem quite a hassle, but there are actually numerous advantages to studying in this way.

The first advantage is that it’s cheap and simple to do. Post-its cost next to nothing, much less than textbooks or dictionaries. Within a few minutes and for almost no cost you can create a living interactive learning space in your own home.

It’s a great mixture of passive and active learning. After being active in choosing items, writing the post-it notes and reading the notes in the first couple of days, you can then become more passive, gaining opportunities to practice and learn as you go about your daily routine. Need milk for your cereal? Quick vocab practice. Want to watch TV for a while? Quick vocab practice.

Finally, you’ll learn faster than you even realize. After even one or two days of living at home and using the objects you attach the notes to, you can be very familiar with those words. You might quickly pick up 20-30 new words in a few days. It could take you a week of conventional learning to learn that many, and after that you’d probably forget them anyway.

Try it for yourself and feel the difference that simplicity and activity can have on your language learning!

🎉 Get started!

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