Tips for learning English: vocabulary cards by Ayan Ali

When you’re studying English, you learn so many new words inside and outside the classroom, but what can you do to remember them? The key is to review and use the word many times and one good way is to use vocabulary cards.

The advantage is that you can arrange the cards in different ways. It’s a good idea to take a photo of the different arrangements on your phone so you can study when you have a few minutes free e.g. when travelling by train. Little and often is a good approach!

Below are some adjectives to describe people’s personalities from an upper intermediate class at EC Covent Garden 30+. Look at the cards in the picture. Can you guess how they have been arranged? (check below for the answer!)


vocab cards


Answer: they put the positive adjectives on the left and the negative adjectives on the right with two neutral words in the middle (reserved and eccentric). We call this the ‘connotation’ of a word. Maybe you disagree with their choices?


What other ways can you arrange personality adjectives?

  • In opposites e.g. mature and immature.
  • In groups with a similar meaning e.g. annoyed, upset, angry and furious. If you like, you can line them up in a row showing stronger/extreme words at the end (e.g. furious).


Vocabulary cards are creative and you can include lots of information on them.

  • You could show the pronunciation by highlighting the stressed syllable in your style e.g. mature/maTURE/mature or write the sound in phonemics /məˈtʃʊə/. Click here to see the phonemic chart and hear the sounds.
  • You can write the translation in your language on the back and test yourself by trying to remember the English word before checking the other side.
  • What other information can you write on the back? E.g. an example sentence using the word, other words in the family e.g. creative/creatively/to create sth/creativity.
  • Colour helps organisation and memory. You can use coloured paper or coloured pens e.g. one colour for each topic.

Vocabulary cards fit in your pocket and are a fun way to review words from both academic and general English courses. Why don’t you try it and see if it works for you?


If you’d like some quick vocabulary lessons and activities, check out our EC Learn English website.

If you’re thinking about learning English or are looking for more information on the English courses on offer at EC Covent Garden 30+ please click on the link provided.