Humor as a Language Memory Tool

When most teachers of beginning languages are asked what they think is the most important skill a student can learn will say, “Their ability to memorize.” Unfortunately, not everyone is able to memorize as well as others, but they can learn how to.  It may take some experimentation, but once a learning niche is found a student can breeze through those vocabulary words. Most teachers have never thought to use humor as a tool, but it can be very instructive since humor relaxes us — which allows our brain to retain it better.

We all learn differently. Because of that there is a need for teachers to recognize that and find a common ground for their students to learn. Some people try memorizing, while other others use a blend of memorization and association. Over 80% of us first learn language through memorizing of the basics, which is why some learn better with hands on projects, while others by listening to sounds. No matter if we are learning English, Spanish or German, we usually associate words with items we can visualize or hear, and we are able to retain our memory through repetition.

Children pick up languages much quicker than adults, and this is why schools are starting to teach different languages at a younger age. They are also seeing that by making it fun it’s not a chore and children pick it up quicker. Since young children are still learning how to speak anyway, all words are new and just part of the process. It’s becoming more and more necessary, both socially and in the job market later on, for a person to know more than one language.

Since many countries speak Spanish, it is a good choice to begin.

Mnemonics is a valuable memory technique, and amazingly most of us use it! When parents begin talking to a child they often put words to music, and even do crazy sounds and actions themselves (Example: The song “Head, Shoulder, Knees and Toes” teaches the parts of the body).   Mnemonics is the creative use of rhymes and wacky phrases that will make the child laugh as they learn. Anyone learning a new skill – like a language, will retain more if they are involved, and not consciously thinking about learning.

Older children learn by the use of “Acronyms” (Example: When trying to learn the Great Lakes students are told to remember the word “HOMES,” which stands for Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior), or “Acrostics” (using the first letter of each word in a sentence to help learners retrieve a list of words (Example: “Every Good Boy Does Fine” is taught as an easy way to recall the notes in a musical scale). Note: with the advent of “texting,” people of all ages are using acronyms on a daily basis!

“Students need different approaches that appeal to their individual styles and that’s what the mnemonic method offers. Fun comics and wacky phrases are always a big hit in class,” says Jim Sarris, author of Comic Mnemonics for Spanish Verbs. Sarris’ book is a creative and fun learning took that utilizes the mnemonic method to help students memorize Spanish verbs.

The Midwest Book Review states that Sarris’ book is: “ Profusely illustrated, with one hundred instances of cartoon style artwork… (Sariss’ book) is a vocabulary building guide that uses simple, humorous line drawings and whimsical catch phrases to help students of Spanish memorize verbs such as “viajar” to travel: “on Mars, they travel via jars.” Conjugation and grammar reviews for each verb help reinforce memorization and understanding of these verbs, all of which are common-use words vital for anyone striving to gain a working command of the Spanish language. Highly recommended for self-study, student use, review, or just plain fun.”

“One of the biggest problems in beginner Spanish classes lies with the teachers that still rely on the “rote memory” method, leaving many students begging for something more effective,” says Sarris.

“If schools don’t offer varied approaches to learning that reach out to more kids, then parents need to get involved,” says Sarris. “That may include speaking with the teacher and the department chair, or it may mean finding affordable resources that can help now.”

Dr. Joel Levin, Educational Psychologist at the University of Arizona, has been working on mnemonic strategies scientific research for the last 25 years and says that studies have “proven time and again to be dramatically more effective memory enhancers than both rote learning and other vocabulary-acquisition technique. Mnemonics is the perfect answer, and it’s been proven again and again in published studies.”

Comic Mnemonics and mnemonic strategies are exceptional memory techniques, for learning any language, as well as improving study skills in other areas. It allows the students learn how to remember anything in a fun way.

Sarris recently updated his lessons to include video tutorials, flash cards and crossword puzzles for those trying to learn Spanish.

This lesson was shared by two time USA Memory Champion and memory speaker, Ron White.


(PRWEB) March 14, 2006 — Comic Mnemonics for Spanish Verbs:

Mnemonic Strategies —

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