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New Vocabulary - Making a Picture Dictionary

Vocabulary is one of the most important ways to gain confidence in your new language. If you’re a beginner or even a more advanced English student, you may rely on your translator to remember what a word means. But are translators the best way to train your brain to remember what a word means?



Using a translator teaches your brain to do this:

English word → Translated word → the thing in the real world

Using a picture dictionary teaches your brain to do this:

English word → the thing in the real world

Making a Picture Dictionary is a great way to train your brain to skip the translator. Making and using a picture dictionary can teach your brain to associate the English word with the world around you.

How do you make a Picture Dictionary?

Step 1

Pick a topic. Write down 10-20 vocabulary words on cards.

Step 2

Search the world in Google for pictures; or use your translator if necessary (but don’t write down the translated word).

Step 3

On the other side of the cards, visualize and draw a picture to remember the word.

Step 4

Study the vocabulary cards you made until you can visualize the thing in the real world when you read the English word.


You can make a Picture Dictionary card set physically, or using a website. Here’s a set for ESL beginners to memorize colors:

ESL Beginning Vocabulary - Colors

You can search www.Quizlet.com for more, or create an account and make your own set. Have fun!

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