It’s easy to find recommendations online for the “Vocabulary Self-collection Strategy” (VSS). Teachers sing its praises as an approach to help children take an interest in strengthening their native-language vocabulary. Developing a personal vocabulary self-collection strategy can support intermediate and advanced foreign language learners, too.
A systematic strategy for vocabulary development can also provide advanced learners with fruitful reading, writing, listening and speaking opportunities.
Please try out my strategy and let me know how it works for you. I welcome your comments and suggestions.
Step 1: Find a suitable online article in your target language.
Use the “five-finger test” if necessary to determine suitability. A suitable article for an intermediate/advanced adult learner will have 2 – 5 new/challenging words out of ~250.
Step 2: Upload the URL, PDF or doc file on Lingro.com .
Read the article on the Lingro site, and use Lingro to look up words from the document that you might like to learn. Lingro will keep track of the words you select and the sentences in which the words are found.
Step 3: Open a word processing program.
Use two screens, one for a new word processing (e.g., Word) document and the other with the Lingro site.
Step 3: Select 5 – 10 worthy words, and copy/paste the sentences into your document.
Find the sentences you collected on Lingro (step 2), select 5 – 10 vocabulary words, and copy/paste the corresponding sentences into the word processing document.
Recommendation: Also copy/paste the URL for the article or information about the file.
Step 4: Make a three-column table for your vocabulary words.
Make a table with three columns and one row for each vocabulary word. Put the 5 – 10 vocabulary words you chose in the left column.
Step 5: Add target-language and native-language definitions in the second and third columns.
Open Word Reference in the second screen. Look up each word. Put an appropriate target-language definition in the second column and an appropriate native-language definition in the third column.
Step 6: Make additional tables, one with only target-language definitions and one with only native-language definitions.
Using copy/paste, make two additional tables. Use the table tools to delete the native-language definition column for one of the tables and the target-language definition column in the the other table.
Step 7: Write a paragraph in which you use a form of each of the vocabulary words.
Recommendation: Underline or highlight each of the vocabulary words.
Step 8: Find a friendly native-speaker of the target language who will correct your sentences.
Recommendation: Use a site like The Mixxer to find someone who will help you.
Step 9: Review the words in your tables.
Suggestion: You can cut each row and then fold the paper in the middle to make flashcards. You can separate the words you’ve learned easily from those you haven’t.
Step 10: Pat yourself on the back and start over with a new article.