Mnemonics-Memory Based on Associations

Mnemonics-Memory Based on Associations

Author: Mr. Oleg Magnes

Today I want to tell you something about one approach of learning, which might be helpful, for example, if you want to learn new language. I guess, this problem is rather essential for all of us during our study in KAIST.

As you probably understood, I want to write about mnemonics. Mnemonics is an extremely powerful learning technique. I heard that mnemonics are used in majority of private language courses. Once I saw the trick, performed by the girl, who mastered this technique. She gave the paper with just 100 numbers to the audience in the lecture hall, and everybody wrote down some word in front of the random number. Then, she read the paper for 15 minutes, and after that any person in the room could ask her the number or the word, and she instantaneously responded with the word or the number respectively. She even was able to recall the orthographic mistakes. No hidden headphones, no help from organizers, nothing. That was impressive, even though it is actually completely useless, unless you are paid for doing those tricks.

Mnemonics sometimes also referred as “memory based on associations”. The main principle is the following: to remember something new, you need to create some association: the more crazy association, the better will be memorization.

If we are talking about memorizing new words, scheme is the following:

1. When you see the foreign word, try to think about some awfully crazy sentence/situation with this word. It works better, if you are trying to make a sentence in your native language. Usually, using “linkwords” might be helpful. Linkwords are words, that have the same pronunciation in your language as the word you are trying to remember. I will just copy good examples from Wikipedia here. «For example, in trying to assist the learner to remember ohel, the Hebrew word for tent, the memorable sentence “Oh hell, there’s a raccoon in my tent” can be used. Also in Hebrew, a way to remember the word, bayit (bahy-it), meaning house, one can use the sentence “that’s a lovely house, I’d like to buy it”. Yep, those Wikipedia association are not crazy at all, it’s okay, just believe me, crazy could probably work better for you.

2. Write the word on small piece of paper (~ business card) and write translation on the other side. Try to memorize this word together with your association. Also you can use special software instead of cards, for example AnkiDroid.

3. Then you need to practice (sorry). Take your pack of cards and try to translate every word using your association. Ideally, after several days you will suddenly find out that you do not need the association anymore and the foreign word leads your brain directly to the word in you native language.

4. Good thing is to repeat this process with old cards after one month, three months, half of the year, and so on. Software will remind you to do this automatically.

Now, I hope you got some “primer” in mnemonics, and if you are interested, there is the whole Internet waiting for you.

Disclaimer: This article was submitted by Mr. Oleg Magnes for Write for KISA programme. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of KAIST International Students Association (KISA).  For more details visit the Write for KISA page.