As an adult, learning a second language is challenging. Our expressions, dreams, thoughts, emotions and even our reality is shaped and defined by language. Learning a second or third language also means that we have to learn and adopt a new way to see the world. When we’re young, this comes naturally, and the older you get, the harder it is to remember. But it is not impossible, as the many millions of bilingual people in this country can confirm. Using memory techniques, such as mnemonic techniques, while learning a second language can significantly improve your memory retention.
What is the Mnemonic Technique?
The term mnemonic has Greek origins and means “memory”. These memorization techniques have been used for a very long time. They are used to develop strategies to facilitate the memorization of data in our brain. Mnemonic techniques involve associating either an image with a word, an emotion or a daily action, with what you learn, so your brain will archive this information and transform it from abstract information into something concrete, or real. These techniques are very effective not only for learning languages but for all types of learning.
Why Are Mnemonics so Important?
If you think about the memories that tend to stick with you, you might notice that the more meaningful they are, the more likely you are to remember the details. Mnemonic techniques help you store information in your brain in a more meaningful, visual, and even lyrical way. Abstract information, such as verbs, is better remembered when associated with something substantial, such as a rhyme, acronym or physical object.
Examples of Mnemonic Techniques:
The most common examples are taught to us during our elementary and high school years as memory aids for test taking, however, mnemonic techniques can be used for anything. A common mnemonic technique is counting the knuckles across your hand to remember which months of the year have 30 or 31 days. Another frequently used mnemonic device is “Never Eat Shredded Wheat” to remember the cardinal directions, or the acronym Roy G. Biv to remember the colours of the rainbow (red, orange, green, blue, indigo, violet) and the rhyme “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue,” to remember the year that Columbus arrived to the American continent.
Learning a Second Language and Mnemonic Techniques
Mnemonic techniques have been proven efficient in learning a foreign language. The more you can associate a familiar image with the newly acquired vocabulary word or syntax, the better you develop a systematic use of the desired language. All the pitfalls of translation will be eliminated in this way, since this stimulating and playful kind of learning develops your logical deduction, unlike systematic memorization.
At the Academie Linguistique Charlemagne, methodology used to teach a foreign language is based on a communicative method, deductive grammar and vocabulary learning through an association of ideas or images, so students can progress rapidly and develop a fluidity with their speech.
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