The most important thing first: Before you start your study session, make sure that you are in a peaceful environment and a positive mood. Sounds simple, but both of these factors have considerable influence on your learning success and motivation!
Brief & Focused
Brevity is the soul of wit! Short but focused studying has proven to be much more efficient than hours of buckling down. Try to limit your study sessions to 20-30 minutes each, while repeating these several times a day.
Quality over quantity! Focus on words and phrases that will be most helpful in everyday conversation. It is key that you are able to actually use your acquired vocabulary in real-world situations. That is why it is always a good idea to learn individual words together with their appropriate syntactical context.
Into battle! If possible, make use of your newly learned words and phrases immediately. Undoubtedly, the best way to do this is finding a study partner with whom you can have an actual conversation. If you can't do that, simply converse with yourself and make up a dialogue that involves the new vocabulary.
Writing down vocabulary makes it easier to memorize new words and phrases. It is especially efficient to use flashcards, on which you write down both the new word and its translation. Alternatively, you can also download a flashcard app for your smartphone or tablet. That way you can always carry your vocabulary with you and are able to have a quick study session on the bus, the subway, or the train.
Jog your memory! Remember difficult words by using mnemonic devices. For example, you can easily learn new words by embedding a word in little rhymes and catch phrases, which will aid your memory. You could also make a quick drawing next to a new word or phrase that visualizes its meaning or an association that you have with it.
The Emotional Anchor
Get involved! Try to connect a new word to a personal memory and/or experience. When you think of the word, do you have any automatic associations with its meaning? If so, try to recall these whenever you encounter the word. This will cause your memory to cast an emotional anchor attached to that word, which will aid you in remembering it later.
Use new vocabulary to decorate your room! Write down words and phrases that cause you problems on post-its and stick these to the walls and furniture of your room. Ideally, you should attach new words to the items they signify, but even if that is not possible, this new decoration will help you learn vocabulary almost automatically. Insider tip: Post-its in the bathroom are especially effective!
During your study sessions, collect the words that you have a hard time memorizing in a separate pile or on a notepad. Give these linguistic mavericks another go at the end of your session to ensure that they won't escape your memory.