How to memorize foreign words

In foreign language (!) I was called a “walking dictionary”: in the pre-smartphone era, I confidently coped with this function with quite an average memory. Now I will list a few tricks that personally helped me a lot.

People remember information in different ways, depending on individual characteristics, and teachers here will not help much. Do not believe advertising, there are no universal memorization methods, everyone must study the work of their memory on their own. In general, our ability to remember is based on 2 pillars:

  • emotions (he has a complicated last name, but I remember it easily: it sounds funny);

  • associative links (he has a complicated surname, but I remember it easily: a friend had a similar one).

When we sleep, the brain filters the information received during the day, regarding its relevance to “survival”. By default, he refers to survival everything that carries an emotional load. If the information causes emotions, he decides to keep it. Negative or positive, it doesn’t matter. The brighter the better. (We will not discuss the repression of traumatic memories now.)

Imagine that you are leaving the apartment and you see a man with a knife. He just came to a neighbor to sharpen a knife: well, he doesn’t have a grindstone! You will remember this situation forever – the brain will assign it the highest priority.

Words are effectively remembered only in context: the more associative links are attached to a word, the more likely it is to remain in memory. Without context, set expressions or idioms are well remembered: they already contain a vivid image in themselves. We kill two birds with one stone: remember the idiom + the words it consists of.

Contrary to popular myth, the language environment does not give any miracles. In the same way, you have to memorize thousands of words and their individual meanings. But everything that is said there is directly related to real situations and people. It is no coincidence that we remember in detail “meaningless” situations and dialogues from the past: they are strung with a huge number of associations, moreover, supported by emotions. Interesting films and videos give the maximum approximation to the language environment at home: a large number of associations are attached to the phrase – with what intonation the actor pronounced it, in what situation, with what facial expression.

The textbook usually loses to live interaction with the teacher in the eyes of our psyche. She doesn’t care about your exams. The mind understands that a textbook is important, but the psyche is like a stupid teenager: there are funny pictures – interesting, save. No – ruthless ignore.

Life hack: a psyche preoccupied with the problem of “survival” is easily deceived. If you allocate 5-10 minutes daily to review the material covered, you can convince her that a foreign language is relevant for survival: frequently encountered units of information she also perceives as something important and saves in memory.

Emotionally loaded situations can and should be used to memorize idioms. When a person appears next to us, an emotional interaction immediately begins, even if there are no words or gestures. Even stranger. Even at the other end of an empty subway car. We begin to take into account the presence of this person at all levels.

Interaction with people is an inexhaustible source of emotionally charged situations. Exploit it to the fullest! Returning home, we pronounce loudly and distinctly instead of “good evening” an English idiom. In response to puzzled looks, we give a translation of the idiom and explain why this was necessary. Twisted at the temple We laughed, exchanged positive emotions, remembered this situation for a long time and, at least for a while, the idiom itself.

But you can not use the same technique with a large amount of material. One idiom – one different situation. You are visiting relatives. Their child comes home from English classes and joyfully throws out five newly learned words with translations at you. You will not remember them: several unrelated words are too complex material for one association. But if he shares the expression he just learned And Bob’s your uncle! (in our opinion, “And it’s done!”), and even tell the story of its origin, for years later you will remember this situation and, with a high probability, the expression itself.

Ways to exploit life situations to remember information can and should be custom. Write a short idiom on your hand – you will remember this experience forever. The idiom itself will also settle in memory for a while.

Frequently used contacts on the phone can be renamed into simple nouns or adjectives: you will constantly stare at them, an association will arise between a person and an English word. All passwords absolutely must be made idioms. Why litter your head with meaningless Lenusik87? There is also a stable phrase under no circumstances, which also contains a word that is difficult to spell. Play on different devices for a couple of years – then you won’t get anything out of it.

PS An important article on a similar topic.

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