Most people associate memorization with flashcards and hours spent staring at a dull book. This may be what a lot of people do, but these methods do not lend themselves to easy memorization.
In Part 1, we looked at some actions you can take to break memorization down into chunks that you can more easily manage. In Part 2, we are going to show you how visualization can help you more easily memorize words and grammatical concepts.
The Key Is in Active Memorization
The traditional means of memorizing are largely passive. That is why it seems to take forever for you to commit things to memory – you’re basically pouring the information into your brain and hoping it stays without any further assistance. While this can work if you do it often enough, it is incredibly inefficient.
In contrast, active memorization makes you process what you have learned, then organizes and structures it in a way that makes sense to you. Essentially, you are paraphrasing what you are learning so that it fits into your brain in a way that you can more readily access it.
Paraphrasing information can be done in many ways. Here are a few suggestions for ways to paraphrase what you are learning.
Find Other Sources
One of the most frustrating things about learning another language is that you are stuck with a book (at least in the beginning). If you use a book that is poorly written, you are going to have a very difficult time learning anything. Find another source and see if you can more easily understand the concepts the way that book presents them.
Even if you like the book or material you are using, find a couple of alternatives. By looking at the language from several different angles, it is more likely to leave a more lasting impression on your memory.
The following are some easily accessible sources that can enhance what you learn:
You will want to take what you learn with a grain of salt, but they give you some relatively reliable information since all of them use experts to update the information.
Creating a Visual and a Story
People are visual and emotional by nature. When you have a mental image of something, it creates emotions (even if they are rather tepid emotions), enough that what you saw is more likely to stick with you. It is why you are much more likely to remember a face but not a name.
Visualization can go beyond just what you see with your eyes – it includes the images your brain conjures while you think. One of the best ways to visualize something is through storytelling. If you are presented with a novel and a dictionary, you already know which one is going to leave a lasting impression.
All of the best methods of instructing students focus on visualization and storytelling because students learn faster and retain more.
The problem is that not everyone is creative. It’s ok, you don’t have to be. Here are a few things you can do to make your stories more memorable.
It will take a bit of getting used to these methods because you haven’t been taught to do this. However, it won’t take long before it is second nature, just like picking up a book and trying to memorize its contents. The difference is that it is both more enjoyable and more efficient when you put ideas into stories.
Prioritize What You Memorize
Not everything you study is of equal value. Of course, you cannot neglect the stuff you don’t like, but you can prioritize your learning in a way that makes it more natural for you to memorize.
If you already know something well, don’t start with it every study session. You already know it. Move on to the new stuff and start committing that to memory. It will make you feel less secure about what you know, but that is a good thing. Starting with what you do know gives you the wrong impression that you know the language well. The truth is you don’t. You just feel better because you know a small part of it.
These three tips will help you to better prioritize your memorization.
Take Care of Yourself
This is something you are told in every other aspect of your life. Sorry to nag you here, but it is just as essential for your memory as it is for everything else you do.
To properly take care of yourself, you will need to manage several other aspects of your life.