How many times in your life have you found yourself in a position where you can’t remember something? Don’t you remember? And how many times has it happened when trying to speak another language? Well, guys, you are not the only ones in this position. Memory is extremely important, especially when learning a new language, so strengthening your memory could make the difference when learning things like grammar, vocabulary and syntax.
Despite the fact that difficulties arising when trying to remember a constant amount of things are evident, these don’t have to prevent you from working hard. As we say, practice makes perfect. In the meantime, though, you can help your memory by using some “tricks” and whether you need to remember a list of things to do or grammatical structures of the foreign language you are studying, these expedients will likely help you improve your ability to memorise concepts. Mnemonics are tools to make the process of memorising easier by utilising several elements.
Among the most popular mnemonic devices are acronyms. Acronyms are words formed by the first letter of the words you want to remember. For instance, a useful acronym for remembering the parts of an atom is “PEN” which stands for proton, electron and neutron.
Another useful device is an acrostic, a series of lines where the beginning of each word defines a word or message. A famous acrostic is used to remember the planets: My Very Excellent Mother Just Served Us Nachos. As the bold letters suggest, the planets (and their order) are Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.
If you guys are instead more into music you will be glad to know that some mnemonic devices involve rhythmical tools. For example, one of the most used mnemonics is rhyme, since it can be stored in our brains more easily through acoustic encoding. An example of how rhymes are used to improve memory can be found in this sentence to help people to remember the number of days per month:
Thirty days hath September,
April, June, and November;
All the rest have thirty-one,
Save February, with twenty-eight days clear,
And twenty-nine each leap year.
The mnemonics available to help you remember are plenty, and you can decide to use one of them in accordance with your preference and your particular needs. However, it is important to point out that these tricks aren’t replacements for your ability to memorise, but useful ways to remember intricate features that are difficult to keep in your mind. Whether you use these tools or you are creative and think up your own mnemonics, you’ll see how these simple devices can improve your everyday life.
Maria Chiara Strano