Some linguistic scholars claim that it takes 20 exposures to a new word to commit it to memory. That means you won't remember the meaning of a word until you've encountered it 20 times. Other language teachers contend that the quality of the exposure, rather than the quantity, influences vocabulary retention more. (See Reference 1) Contextualization, seeing or using new vocabulary words in sentences, is an effective method of learning vocabulary words. (See Reference 2) Making a paragraph from vocabulary words not only helps solidify the meaning and proper usage of a word for a learner, but aids in remembering it.
Find a common theme in your list of vocabulary words. For example, if you have a list of words such as "penal," "retribution," "plead" and "judiciary," you could write a paragraph about someone convicted of a crime.
Consult a dictionary for the proper usage of a vocabulary word. You need to know the part of speech (noun, verb, adjective, etc.) and if it normally belongs with a certain preposition, such as "compose of."
Begin your paragraph with a clear topic sentence that introduces the subject of the paragraph. Try to incorporate at least one or two vocabulary words per sentence. Aim for a paragraph that has at least four sentences.
Use synonyms for the vocabulary words in your paragraph to reinforce meaning. For example, a synonym for "penal" is "punishing." Alternate between either word throughout the paragraph.
Use the different forms of the vocabulary word in a paragraph. The adverb of "penal" is "penally."
Nadine Smith has been writing since 2010. She teaches college writing and ESL courses and has several years experience tutoring all ages in English, ESL and literature. Nadine holds a Master of Arts in English language and literature from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, where she led seminars as a teaching assistant.