For language learners, owning abundant and diverse vocabulary is essential for communicative competence, however, its acquisition is a tedious process and confronts them with insurmountable difficulties. Recording words in a vocabulary notebook has been regarded as a plausible but critical method for learners. Keeping vocabulary notebooks is viewed as an effective strategy to take control of, organize and manage individual vocabulary learning. While this strategy is beneficial for learning vocabulary, most researchers and teachers have demonstrated that learners need more guidance in the proper use of vocabulary notebooks. For example, students simply tend to write vocabulary word by word because they commonly view words as individual units. In order to resolve the issue, in this study, an association-based strategy has been introduced to assist learners in compiling vocabulary notebooks. This deep processing strategy was found more effective in regard to vocabulary retention than rote repetition strategies. To assess the strategy, an experiment was conducted to investigate the potential benefits and pitfalls in the act of learning vocabulary. This experiment mainly examined the effect of the association-based note-taking method. The experimental results show that the association-based method could increase the vocabulary retention.