10 Must-Try Memory Boosters for Language Learners
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10 Must-Try Memory Boosters for Language Learners

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Think your memory isn't good enough to learn a language? Think again, and try these 10 memory-boosting tips that will help you learn a language faster and retain it longer.

Think your memory isn't good enough to learn a language? Think again, and try these 10 memory-boosting tips that will help you learn a language faster and retain it longer.

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10 Must-Try Memory Boosters for Language Learners Presentation Transcript

  • 1. Must-Try 10 Memory Boosters for Language Learners
  • 2. When it comes to languages, your memory is like a suitcase. Image © Gideon | flickr
  • 3. Image © Shockingly Tasty | flickr You want to fit as much in there as you possibly can.
  • 4. But you also want to be able to access the contents quickly and easily. Image © body_pixel | flickr
  • 5. Fortunately, there are a few things everyone can do to optimize how they pack and unpack a language within their memory. Image © Cea. | flickr
  • 6. CHUNKING
  • 7. The average person can store between 4-7 items in their short-term memory at any given time. Push that limit with the chunking technique. Image © InSapphoWeTrust | flickr
  • 8. By grouping together several smaller items into one larger, more meaningful item, you’ll be able to store more information. Image © InSapphoWeTrust | flickr
  • 9. Focus on learning meaningful chunks of a language as a whole, rather than dissecting and memorizing the individual parts.1
  • 10. Take the expression “to pay out of pocket.” It may seem easier to break it down into its parts, but that will not help you establish the meaning. It’s better to learn idioms and collocations as whole chunks. Image © danielmoyle | flickr
  • 11. Image © certified su | flickr The more chunks you acquire, the more you’ll begin to recognize grammar patterns.
  • 12. MNEMONIC DEVICES
  • 13. Paint vivid illustrations in your mind to link a new foreign word to its meaning in your native language. Image © katerha | flickr
  • 14. Image © brunosan | flickr Take the German word for parachute: Fallschirm.
  • 15. Image © William Warby | flickr The word looks and sounds a bit like “fall chimp,” which presents a unique, memorable visual. Next time you need to think of the German word for parachute, you’ll picture a chimp in freefall!
  • 16. TAKE A HIKE
  • 17. Improving your memory isn’t all about creative brain tricks. Lifestyle changes, like exercising more often, have considerable effects on brain health. Image © timtak | flickr
  • 18. Exercising one hour a day, three days each week reduces the cognitive and biological effects of aging and improves memory.2 Image © Ed Yourdon | flickr
  • 19. Get out there, go for a walk, take a hike, ride your bike, or join a gym. Take care of your body, and your memory and language skills will follow.
  • 20. CATCH SOME Z’S
  • 21. While on the subject of lifestyle changes, getting a solid 7-8 hours of sleep each night works wonders for your memory. Image © Morgaine | flickr
  • 22. While you sleep, your brain commits new information into your memory through a process called memory consolidation.3 Image © Elaine with Grey Cats | flickr
  • 23. Newly learned material, such as a list of vocabulary words, is very vulnerable at first. Memory consolidation strengthens connections in the brain, preserving new information to be used when you wake.3 Image © thebittenword.com | flickr
  • 24. So catch some z’s and give your brain a chance to store that new language-y goodness you’re learning. Image © ingodibella | flickr
  • 25. DON’T CRAM
  • 26. If you’re learning for a specific deadline, like before a test or a trip overseas, you may be tempted to cram the night before. Image © liewfc| flickr
  • 27. If you’re learning for a specific deadline, like before a test or a trip overseas, you may be tempted to cram the night before. Image © liewfc| flickr DON’T!
  • 28. Image © cstrom | flickr Cramming too much information at once forces you to commit it to your short-term memory instead of your long-term memory, from which it could be pulled much later on down the road… like when you actually need it.
  • 29. You may be able to regurgitate the words for 50 fruits and veggies on a quiz the next morning, but that information will disappear shortly thereafter. When you actually need to buy bananas at the market someday, you may find yourself at a loss. Image © keepon | flickr
  • 30. Language learning is not a race. Take it slow and learn (and review!) only one new grammar rule or a dozen vocab words at a time. Image © IvanWalsh.com | flickr
  • 31. FOCUS
  • 32. Even if you’re a great multi tasker, language learning requires extreme focus. Image © Jeffrey Beall | flickr
  • 33. No matter how much sleep you get or how creative your visualization techniques are, you’ll never remember what you’re learning if you don’t pay attention to it in the first place.
  • 34. Avoid studying in distracting environments. Turn off the TV, put in ear plugs, shut the door to your office, turn off your phone, close the blinds, and just focus. Image © Emilian Robert Vicol | flickr
  • 35. RELATE NEW TO OLD
  • 36. When learning a new word or grammar rule, think about how it relates to parts of the language you already know. Image © katerha | flickr
  • 37. By establishing a connection between newly learned information and existing memories, you can increase your chances of remembering it. Image © Bruce Guenter | flickr
  • 38. Relate new target language terms to terms in your native language. For example, the French expression “quand on parle du loup” (speak of the wolf) is used the same way as the English expressions “speak of the devil.” There’s an easy connection to establish this new expression in your memory. Image © Serge Melki | flickr
  • 39. Or, relate new target language terms to target language terms you know well. For example, the Spanish word for “scarecrow” is espantapájaros, which is much easier to remember when you relate it to the more common Spanish words “espantar” (to scare) and “pájaros” (birds). Image © Peter Pearson | flickr
  • 40. SAY IT OUT LOUD
  • 41. According to a study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology4, speaking a word out loud improves your ability to remember the word by increasing its distinctiveness. Image © SparkCBC | flickr
  • 42. That doesn’t mean you can read an entire passage out loud and memorize it. That approach lacks that distinctiveness we mentioned. But voicing the key words will help you remember them. Image © photosteve101 | flickr
  • 43. Considering you’re learning a new language, practicing your speaking and pronunciation skills is a must, so this really kills two birds with one stone! Image © darrenleno | flickr
  • 44. TEACH
  • 45. One of the best ways to make sure you understand a grammar concept that you’ve been studying? Try explaining it to someone else. Image © Tulane Public Relations | flickr
  • 46. Teaching language concepts to your child, friend, or sibling gives you an opportunity for active repetition, and it’s a big confidence booster. Image © udeyismail | flickr
  • 47. Not to mention it gives you someone to use the language with! This relationship will help you build fun, lasting memories of learning the language, which will also improve retention.
  • 48. RINSE AND REPEAT
  • 49. Here’s the truth you may not want to hear:
  • 50. Here’s the truth you may not want to hear: (Are you ready for it?)
  • 51. Here’s the truth you may not want to hear: (Are you ready for it?) REVIEW, REVIEW, REVIEW!
  • 52. Yes, that requires a lot of effort and time on your part. But repetition moves information from short-term to long-term memory. So don’t take that flashcard from the stack until you’ve used it successfully several times. Image © xikita | flickr
  • 53. Use these 10 techniques to pack your memory well. That way you’ll have the language with you on your next trip overseas, where you can put it to good use. Image © emmamccleary | flickr
  • 54. For more advice on all things foreign language, connect with Transparent Language: www.transparent.com