Memory Technique for Learning New Languages

They often sound like gibberish — languages with which we are unfamiliar. When you are learning a foreign language, having a memory technique for learning new languages will put some structure into what initially just seems like a a collection of foreign sounds.

This article from Mind Tools describes a few mnemonics (memory devices) for learning nouns, adjectives, and verbs.

Memory Technique for Learning New Languages

 The Town Language Mnemonic

This is a very elegant, effective mnemonic that fuses a sophisticated variant of the Roman Room system with the system described above.

This depends on the fact that the basic vocabulary of a language relates to everyday things: things that you can usually find in a city, town or village. To use the technique, choose a town that you are very familiar with. Use objects within that place as the cues to recall the images that link to foreign words.

Nouns in the town:

Nouns should be associated to the most relevant locations: for example, the image coding the foreign word for book could be associated with a book on a shelf in the library. You could associate the word for bread with an image of a loaf in a baker’s shop. Words for vegetables could be associated with parts of a display outside a greengrocer’s. Perhaps there is a farm just outside the town that allows all the animal name associations to be made.

Adjectives in the park:

Adjectives can be associated with a garden or park within the town: words such as green, smelly, bright, small, cold, etc. can be easily related to objects in a park. Perhaps there is a pond there, or a small wood, or perhaps people with different characteristics are walking around.

Verbs in the sports center:

Verbs can most easily be associated with a sports center or playing field. This allows us all the associations of lifting, running, walking, hitting, eating, swimming, driving, etc.

Remembering Genders

In a language where gender is important, a very good method of remembering this is to divide your town into two main zones. In one zone you code information on masculine gender nouns, while in the other zone you code information on feminine nouns. Where the language has a neutral gender, then use three zones. You can separate these areas with busy roads, rivers, etc. To fix the gender of a noun, simply associate its image with a place in the correct part of town. This makes remembering genders easy!

Many Languages, many towns

Another elegant spin-off of the technique comes when learning several languages: normally this can cause confusion. With the town mnemonic, all you need do is choose a different city, town or village for each language to be learned. Ideally this might be in the relevant country. Practically, however, you might just decide to use a local town with the appropriate foreign flavor.

memory technique for learning new languages

memory technique for learning new languages

An especially useful memory technique for learning new languages is described in section 3 of the article here. It is a list of 100 basic words that comprise 50% of all words used in conversation in any language, excerpted from Tony Buzan`s book Using Your Memory. Learn these and you`re off to a great start.

Learning other language gives you great insight into other cultures and perspectives. Having a memory technique for learning new languages makes it fun and a whole lot easier, especially if learning new languages doesn’t come naturally to you. You`ll sound like a pro in no time.

What do you think of this memory technique for learning new languages? Share your comments below.



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