ESL Vocabulary Notebooks: A Powerful Tool for Learning and Retention

Updated: Nov 4, 2020

ESL Vocabulary Books for Retention

“While without grammar, very little can be conveyed,

without vocabulary, nothing

can be conveyed.”

- David Wilkins, Linguist

This post is a guest blog post by Nadiah Ammar, a CELTA certified instructor with a Master’s in Multicultural Studies in Education and ESL. She has been teaching adult English learners for the past ten years in the Middle East and the US. Currently, she is an adjunct professor in the ESOL department at San Jacinto College.

It is a Sunday afternoon, and you are enjoying your day off. You are watching an episode of Friends, an American sitcom, and you hear Ross say, “When you get tough with people, you get whatever you want”. Maybe, you don’t know what get tough means, but then you see him talk to Joey, his friend, in a strong and assertive way. You kind of get the meaning from the context, but once the show is over, it is impossible to remember what was said exactly. Did he say “be tough” or was it “get rough”? You feel frustrated for a few moments trying to remember, then you give up, and the phrase is gone.

Does this scenario sound familiar? How many times has this happened to you? As a language learner, you are hit with new words ALL the time. You never know when it might happen. It could be at the supermarket as you do your grocery shopping, at a business meeting, or even as you are reading this article. So, what can you do about this problem? The best tool you could use as a language learner is a vocabulary notebook.

What is a vocabulary notebook?

A vocabulary notebook is a written record of new words or phrases that YOU want to learn and remember. It includes all the inf