Mnemonics Can Make Learning a Foreign Language Fun

It is common knowledge that children are better at picking up languages quicker than adults. The reason is because they are still learning their own language, so it’s a natural progression they will include those language lessons by incorporating other languages as well. In many other countries foreign languages are just a normal part of the lesson plans for school children, and many can speak more than one language.

Due to technology and networking knowing more than one language is a useful tool both in business and socially. For Americans, since the population of Spanish-speaking people is growing it makes the most sense to begin with that language first.

We all learn differently, and each teacher has their own methods of teaching a foreign language, as well as their own dialect. Some speak Spanish with a Brazilian accent, others Mexican (which often contains a bit of English incorporated) have another dialect, and others speak with a Castilian pronunciation. Just as there are different accents in English, there are different dialects in other languages.

Many start off with memorizing a list of words and their verb associations, while others blend a combination of memorization and association. Some people learn better by hands-on projects, while others listen to sounds. Over 80% of us first learn language through memorizing of the basics, and associating words with items we can visualize or hear. We train our memory through repetition. This is the same, no matter if we are learning English, Spanish or Swahili.

When asked what the most important skill for beginning language students is, most teachers will say: “Their ability to memorize.” Unfortunately, not everyone is able to retain as well as others, or at the same rate.

It may take some experimentation, but once your learning niche is found you can breeze through those vocabulary words. Many teachers resort to humor, through a learning system called “Mnemonics.” This is the use of crazy phrases and rhymes that will make the student laugh. It can be done with music, the same way we teach our children how to learn the alphabet or parts of our bodies (Example: The song “Head, Shoulder, Knees and Toes”). Mnemonics is creative, makes learning fun, and opens the mind up to receive the lesson easier.

Older children use “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: through “texting,” people of all ages are using acronyms on a daily basis to communicate!

“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 tool that utilizes the mnemonic method to teach students Spanish verbs. He also utilizes other memory tools like flash cards, video tutorials and crossword puzzles.

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 Sariss.

Comic Mnemonics and mnemonic strategies are exceptional memory techniques, for learning any language, as well as improving study skills. It allows students to learn, understand and retain their subject matter in a fun and simple way.

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

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

Memory Training

From the Desk of Ron White, memory speaker

 Memory Training


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

Mnemonic Strategies –

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