Our Tips for Learning a New Language:
Learning with Pictures

tips for learning new vocabulary with pictures

What do you see here?
Eine Kuh (German), una vaca (Spanish), uma vaca (Portuguese), una vacca (Italian), lehmä (Finnish), een koe (Dutch)?
A cow!

In this article our experts explain, why the human brain can learn so well with pictures.
Have you ever tried to learn new vocabulary with pictures?
If you try this out you will quickly notice that it is very effective and fun.

Theory: Why learn with pictures?

The human is a visual organism.
Right at the beginning of human history it was an advantage to be able to process visual information quickly and efficiently.
For example, if a nearby sabre toothed tiger was not immediately recognized as a danger that should be kept away from, then that could be very unfortunate.
Also if our ancestors had not been able to recognize the difference between poisonous and edible plants that could have had fatal consequences.
We have evolved to associate visual images with often lifesaving information and behaviour.
Images are quickly and reliably learnt by humans.

Which vocabulary can be learned most effectively with visual images?

The best vocabulary to learn are tangible nouns (no abstract concepts or theoretical constructs) that can be formed into visual images.
We have prepared an example for you, so that you can test this for yourself.

Learn new vocabulary with the help of pictures:
Let's learn some Danish
learn Danish with pictures: elephant Danish: elefant
learn Danish with pictures: horse Danish: hest
learn Danish with pictures: pig Danish: gris

How to prepare Cards for learning with pictures

Select pictures of words you would like to learn.
Print these pictures on cards.
Cut out the cards.
On the reverse side of the card write the translation of the word into the language you are learning.

Now you can play a learning game:
You can spread your cards on a table with the translations face down.
What is the correct translation on the other side of the card?

Our Tips for learning with pictures:

  1. Choose positive pictures.
    Pictures that have pleasant associations are better for learning than those with unpleasant associations.
  2. Organise your cards.
    Learn collections of cards with a common theme, rather than compile lists of unconnected items.
  3. Pictures depicting motion are easier to remember than static images.
  4. Exaggerate!
    Use pictures that exaggerate the objects to be learnt. The unusual, scurrilous and funny pictures are easiest to remember.

The language courses from 17 Minute languages help you learn with pictures.
In the language courses from 17 Minute Languages you will find whenever possible pictures to the vocabulary.
This helps you to learn the new vocabulary quickly and effectively.