The whole “put it into your own words” thing that gets taught in schools ‘nowadays’ is utterly horrible as a practice. Teaching kids to store an ever growing chain of associations for complex concepts and terms short-circuits the primary symbolic operation wherein one apprehends words in things — or “sensible intuitions”, going by Kant — and concepts in perceived patterns; ie. don’t teach translation but rather recreation!
(Obviously if you’re talking about meta-lingual concepts, concepts about language or words or things said, the direct perception of that concept is going to be in the milieu of ‘linguistic experience’ and hence worded.)
I’ve found in my own experience that to learn a word I must have a primary experience of that to which it refers, either as a phantasm (a purely imaginative intuition of its object) or an actual acquaintance with its area of reference within the domain of phenomena (acquiring those ‘imaginative intuitions’ via sensible intuitions). But, just learning a string of equivalent words is not sufficient for understanding — that string of words must by synthesized in a totalizing act of the imagination whereby those words becoming partial phantasms and are then formed into an indisoluble whole, become an object for direct experience. When I think of a lower level term such as, say, ‘red’, I have a direct experience of an imaginative intuition of red, but when I think of ‘the law of supply and demand’, no such intuition arises — but, and here is my point, such a direct intuition can be created! One can have a direct experience of a concept via the imagination, and such a direct experience is requisite for mastery and efficient utilization of any term. (A concept is phantasmic in nature — is a synthetic whole which supersedes its referent words, is necessarily more than its definition. There would be no concepts if those words contained in its definition didn’t annihilate themselves in a unity.)