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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Using Mnemonic Devices to Master Vocabulary

A Cebuano Class with Japanese Students

For language learners, one of the most challenging thing is mastering vocabulary.  We may all know how to construct sentences, but acquiring the most useful vocabulary and mastering them is difficult to do.   Achieving a comfortable number of words in the local language may not be easy to do because there are many factors involved.  One of the factors is a great memory.  Young students have a strong ability to master useful vocabulary as opposed to someone who is approaching the senior category. Another factor is the interest.  Interest in learning a language is related to the goal and objectives in learning a language.

Do you often marvel at the ability of others to acquire vocabulary? I used to be like that, I look with awe at people who can speak two or more foreign languages.  I am often encouraged to try harder and practice more my basic Spanish and basic Korean.   

I asked some people the techniques they use in memorizing vocabulary and it turns out, they use mnemonic devices.  What is a mnemonic device?     A mnemonic device is any tool that one uses in aiding recall.   One person I asked said that she uses photos in cementing her memory of the words.  She said it is easy for her to recall items when she sees them.   Another Cebuano learner said that 'real things' makes it easier for her to recall names of fruits and veggies.  So she goes to the market and lists down things that she is not familiar about and then commits them to memory.  

Another learner uses songs to make words stick in her mind.  Often times she would get a popular melody and replace the words with items she wants to memorize and sings the song over and over, sometimes she would record her singing the song and play it over and over.  This way she learns and recalls words subliminally.  One student I had uses the sounds-like method; words that are neighbors or similar-sounding makes it faster for her to recall vocabulary.  

In my case, when it is an action word, I have to act it out so that I can recall the vocabulary and also write it down, maybe at least 20 times so that the spelling and the pronunciation sticks to my mind.  

How about you?  How do you memorize vocabulary?  What mnemonic devices do you use in mastering vocabulary?

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