This is a guest post by Shohruh Mirzo Rakhmonov who is the author of the book Perfect Memory, a blogger at Mnemonika.uz and well-known mnemonist in Uzbekistan and beyond. He participated in a several world championships in memory that took place in China, Guangzhou (2010, 2011), at the Open Championship in memory in Sweden (2011), in Intellectual Olympics «MEMORIAD» in Turkey, Antalya (2012). If you want to become friends, you can find him on Facebook. If you want to support English Club Pro, you can do so by publishing your awesome guest post next time. Click here for more details.
Most of the time, our English teachers tell us to learn or memorize new words, but they rarely tell us how to do it. This little problem made me do a research on the alternative methods of memorization to fight against rote memorization, flash card method, sentence producing as well as context learning. Here are some of the most effective memorization techniques.
1. Memorize with mnemonic techniques
Mnemonics are actually set of techniques which help your memory to remember effectively and easily. It usually involves an association of new words with something you already know, with a vivid imagination and paying attention to a phonetic structure of words.
For example, let’s take the word eminent which means famous or well-known and from the phonetic perspective it is pronounced like Eminem. Here the word eminent is associated with Eminem that most of us know. Now we have to combine the meaning of the new word with its association and then imagine out of ordinary situation those kinds circumstances hat stick to our memory easily. Imagine “Famous Eminem is rapping on the stage but during rapping he lost his memory for the song”.
Or let’s see the word grin which means big smile as another example. The first association that sticks easily to me is the color green. That’s why I imagine someone who often laughs or Cheshire Cat from the cartoon Alice Wonderland which smiles very big. The Cheshire Cat laughing so big that it becomes green after the grin.
This way you can also associate new foreign words with your native language. It all depends on your ability to associate and imagine creatively. At first, this process may look too complicated. However, practice makes it perfect. So next time when you revise those memorized words, they will easily come without any requirement of imagination as they are already settled down in your memory.
2. Produce rhythmic sentence
In my book, Perfect Memory I shared some of my ideas to above mentioned mnemonic memorization technique for new words in more details. Whenever I create an association and imagine, I try to come up with rhythmic funny sentences. Looking at above examples, I would produce these sentences: “Eminent Eminem lost his eminency after forgetting” or “The Cheshire Cat grinned so broadly that he later turned into grinned GREEN but not red”. The grammar does not matter as long as the sentence sticks to my tongue and memory.
Producing the sentences helps you with two benefits: in most cases we memorize new words passively as a result we have a difficulty using them in our daily life. However, when we create sentences we force them to be more active and it helps us reproduce more easily later on. Passive/Receptive and Reproductive practice differ from each other and you try to memorize only in one way you add a barrier for yourself to learn and use English freely.
3. Do spaced repetition – scientifically proven method
It is basically giving a rest for your brain when you are revising new words. This method has become so much popular that new websites and mobile phone applications provide you unique experience to memorization. Memrise, Mnemonic Dictionary or Anki and Mnemosyne software or some flashcards in Android market as well as App Store are some of the examples.
Simply do not forget that repetition is the mother of learning but blind and passive repetition might not bring the result you really want. So spaced repetition could change the way you memorize your new words. When you try to revise new words, have some spaced timings so that you can recall as many learned words as possible.
4. Have a good dictionary strategy
Having one dictionary notebook and two or three dictionaries only help you better memorize and make the memorization process even more interesting. One more point here is that when you write new words in your dictionary try to draw some pictures near new words. Research suggests that picture added to the words is more memorable rather than a single word itself.
Moreover, use different colors in dictionary notebooks because rainbow of colors evokes different parts of the brain which stimulate much better memorization. Have your own style of keeping dictionaries; never forget your brain works differently from others. What worked for one person may not work for you. So understanding your own style of learning only helps you learn better.
Most of the techniques mentioned in this blog post are taken from my book Perfect Memory – a book I wrote to help you realize the potential of your memory and brain. One chapter is only devoted to language learning and words memorization. The golden rule is that practice makes progress. Therefore, more you work to learn new vocabulary, more it helps you memorize new words.