Enhancing Memory

We remember more easily when the material itself is …

Meaningful – real communication on relevant topics, e.g. ordering a meal

Important – I need to do it, e.g. go to the hospital for a check-up

Clearly presented – easy to understand, e.g. grammar broken down into small bytes

Emotionally charged, e.g. needing a public toilet urgently!

Strange or Unusual, e.g. “horse-horse-tiger-tiger” or “ai-ya!” in Chinese

First/Last – so break up your study time into shorter periods (e.g. 30 minutes)

Fun – so make up games to play with the language

Visual – so draw pictures of the vocabulary and the story  (= right + left brain)

Frequent – so review a lesson regularly:

– after 1 hour of study, review for 10 minutes

– next day, review the lesson for 2-4 minutes

– next week, review the lesson for 2 minutes

We get it into our long-term memory more effectively when we focus on it by …

Organizing it, e.g. grouping foods into ‘fruit’, ‘vegetables’, ‘meals’, etc.

Writing a Story about it, e.g. using ‘weather words’ to write ‘The Weather Forecast’.

Mapping it, e.g. create a word chain with the items related to the topic “Breakfast”.

Acting it out, e.g. when getting washed and dressed, say out loud each action.

Contextualizing it, e.g. write a sentence illustrating the use of the word ‘computer’.

Visualizing it, e.g. associating the word ‘apple’ with a picture, icon or the real thing.

Forming Associations, e.g. ‘head’ in Chinese sounds like ‘toe’ in English!

Inventing Games to play with it, e.g. Pictionary

Talking about it, e.g. with a friend who enjoys chatting about the subject.

Teaching it, e.g. teach an imaginary audience.

Singing it, e.g. Karaoke

Summarizing it, e.g. summarizing the grammar patterns of each lesson

Drawing it, e.g. draw diagrams of Place Prepositions; draw faces to express emotions.

Personalizing it, e.g. re-write the textbook dialogues to fit your situation (e.g. Introducing Yourself).

… and remember to use as many of the senses as possible.

Enhancing Memory:  pdf file