"Mnemonics" and "learning a foreign language" are incompatible concepts ?! Let's figure it out

Hello, Dear Habrauserov!

I was inspired by the outrage at the writing of this publication from a recently read article by a habrayuzer who claims that mnemonics "is a very good way to memorize information, completely unsuitable for learning foreign words." I fundamentally disagree with this statement, and therefore, I would like to prove the opposite.
If you are interested in how to use mnemonics to memorize foreign words, then welcome to cat.


To begin with, I would like to tell you the structure of my further narration so that you can immediately go to the sections you are interested in, without wasting time on unnecessary.

In this article I will try to reveal the following points:
  1. Who is talking?
  2. A brief excursion into the basic rules of mnemonics.
  3. Theoretical use of mnemonics when memorizing foreign words.
  4. The practical use of mnemonics on the example of the Japanese language.
  5. Problems and main issues arising in the transition from theory to practice.

1. Who is talking?

In my opinion, it matters, since a young man at the age of 20 and a man at the age of 40 will have different perception filters, and therefore it is important to indicate the position from which the presentation will be carried out in order to better understand the author to readers, along with what is written .

I, a 3rd year student at the Faculty of Law, have been using mnemonics for studying a foreign language (Arabic and Japanese) for about a year or so. I became acquainted with the phenomenon of mnemonics as a child from my brother (there was some old book whose name I no longer remember). It interested me, and I decided to get to know this better, so I bought Harry Lorraine's book “Super Memory” (I do not recommend spending money on it). Then I was fascinated by all this, but only when I tried to apply everything that is written in life did I realize that there was nothing behind the beautiful words.

Some time has passed. I became more interested in all of this (self-development), took a speed reading course and after that I came across (or did I find it more correct to say?) A mnemonics course called the “Giordano System”. At first I read the book of the author of the methodology, I liked it, and therefore it was decided to take this course, as little money came out at a cost. Immediately I will write that I in no way belong to the authors of this methodology, only as a former student. If you want to get more information about this, then refer to this article on Habré.

Mnemonics is used by me to memorize words, phrases and texts in a foreign language, but more for words, which we will consider in this article.
Due to the fact that there is not much time for such things, I consider studying a foreign language as a hobby or, as they wrote in this article, an exercise for brain training.

Actively engaged in Arabic last year. Now he, like English, is in a “passive” study, that is, it simply comes down to reading the corresponding texts in the original. And Japanese, as you probably already guessed, is in the position of "active" study. By “active” learning, I understand the study of the language comprehensively, developing all aspects (reading, writing, listening, speaking), and not just reading.

It is rather difficult to make a quantitative measurement of the volume of stored information due to the spread in the volume itself. For example, I recently memorized about 35 kanji characters at a timeand 40-50 just words. And the other day there are only 12 hieroglyphs and 20 new words. That is, there are limitations only in your readiness to devote one or another amount of time to memorize. More about this later.

2. A brief excursion into the basic rules of mnemonics

If you want to get acquainted with the theory in more detail, then I recommend reading the "Textbook of Mnemonics" authored by V. Kozarenko. Everything is readily presented there.
I will give here only those moments that are necessary for memorizing foreign words.

First you need to understand that the brain does not remember the images that arise in the head, but the connections between several images. It is very important to remember, because immediately during the memorization it is necessary to focus on this. The brain is a generator of information. The generation process is carried out by fixed relationships in the presence of appropriate incentives. Without stimulation, the brain cannot create information. Isolation of the senses (sensory deprivation) leads to a "freeze" of memory and to an impaired activity of the whole brain.

The more often this or that reaction is triggered in the head by means of an appropriate stimulus, the more this connection is fixed. But at the same time, connections can be replaced (rewritten).

Further, there are natural associations (connections that really exist between the objects we perceive). Due to the fact that these connections already exist, the brain remembers them automatically. The author identifies many tricks, but since the volume of the article is limited, and the purpose of my story is not to go deeper into mnemonics, but to demonstrate the effectiveness of mnemonics, I will not set forth all the tricks, only what we will use in the article.

Cicero Method.This method uses links between objects located in familiar rooms or on a familiar street to remember. These connections do not need to be formed, that is, they do not need to be memorized. They formed in your brain automatically due to the repeated and regular perception of related objects in your apartment, at work, on a familiar street.

Through the Cicero method, we will form supporting images that will stimulate the recall of remembered words.

We met with natural associations, now let's move on to artificial ones (these are the ones that we ourselves will form to remember this or that information). I’ll say right away that when a connection is formed, the logic and inconsistency of the connection, the emotions that arise when the connection is formed, thoughts and so on, do not matter.

Only the following matters. Remember the simple rules, which in no case should be violated in the process of creating a connection:

1. Images should be large . Any visual images, whatever their actual size, should be reduced to the same size. If you represent an ant, then it should be increased to the size of a watermelon. If you imagine a plane, then this image should be reduced to the size of a watermelon. Small images should not be presented. The connections between such images will be recorded very poorly.

2. Images should be presented voluminous . An example of such images can be holographic images or images created on three-dimensional graphics programs. Such images can be rotated and viewed from different angles.

3. Images must be presented in color . If you present a leaf on a branch, then the leaf should be seen in green and the branch in brown. If you represent the image of a “traffic light”, then try to see the green, yellow and red colors. Some people see color well, others worse. However, try to imagine it. It trains well. In non-smokers, problems with the presentation of color sensations usually do not arise.

4. Submitted images must be detailed. If you represent the “telephone” image, you need to mentally examine it and clearly see what parts the telephone you represent consists of. If this is a cell phone, then you can highlight the following images in it: antenna, display, buttons, cover, strap, leather case, battery.

Distinguish between mental operations, including the process of "memory". The main mental operation in mnemonics is the “combination of images”. Images can be combined in the imagination in many ways. It depends on the method of memorization used. In any case, remember the following important rule.
When storing any information, using any tricks, only two visual images are connected in the imagination at a time. I repeat, this is very important. In practice, you will understand why this stands out.

The next significant operation for us is the “selection of sub-images (parts of the image)”. This mental operation is used to “disassemble” the whole image into its constituent parts and to obtain a large number of simpler images. For example, you can disassemble the “radio tape recorder” image into its component parts and present each part separately: pen, knob, button, cassette, legs, etc. We will use this to remember the meaning of the word, and then its pronunciation on this image.

The operations “modification” and “transformation of images” I will touch only partially. Speaking very superficially, they consist in the fact that for one word, for example, "onion" you have different images (onion - plant, onion - weapon). But even these "plants" and "weapons" can still be modified many times. I think you can imagine how many different bows (weapons) happen? This is important so that when the volume of information increases, the images do not mix. For example, for the English word “ax” you will have one image, and for the Japanese word - another. I'm not sure that in this article I will touch on this problem in more detail.

There are 4 stages of memorization:
1. Coding. You transform words into images.
2. Remembering. Form a connection between reference images and memorable images.
3. The binding of bonds in the brain. The exclusion of intermediate images from the head through the formation of a direct connection the word (pronunciation) is the image-meaning of the word. Several methods are distinguished

for encoding , but in our case the following are important:
1. The word-image. For such simple words as a pencil, a briefcase, a TV, etc., you use the images that arise when you remember these words. Everything is simple here. We will not stop.
2. The reception of symbolization. Everything is much more complicated here, especially at the beginning. It is used to convert abstract words into visual images. An abstract word is a word that does not have a fixed figurative meaning. For words, cold, courage, jealousy, enter and others there are no fixed images, so here you need to select (first select, and then this process is automated) images individually. The author gives the following images: Cold - ice, jealousy - wet handkerchief. To enter and courage in the example is not, but for me, these words are symbolized by the following images. To enter is a foot stepping over the threshold of an open door (it is long to describe, but the image is capacious). Courage is an old steel heart.

The next term is figurative codes. This concept is interpreted widely, but for convenience we will reduce it to a meager value. Figurative codes = phonetic figurative codes. The bottom line is that for a particular sound its own image is created and a phonetic image for reading is already attached to the image-value. While this may seem complicated and confusing, but moving on to practice, you will realize that it is quite simple and logical.

It is carried out, as already mentioned above, by connecting images. For this part, you already have the corresponding theoretical knowledge, so I will consider this part in the next chapter.

Bracing connections in the brain.
In mnemonics, this refers to multiple recall of information. No reading at all. The scheme is this: you memorize information (create connections). After that, repeat everything together in the head (control recall). If the repetition occurs without errors (reconciliation with the source), then repeated recall should be carried out after about an hour. And then for 3-4 days to recall information three times a day. This may seem like a long process, but I assure you that viewing images is quick when the skill is already formed. This can be done everywhere, therefore, additional time is not required for this. After all, everyone has moments when it is necessary either to wait for something or to perform mechanical work that does not require the inclusion of a brain. At these moments, you can engage in the consolidation of ties.

I tried to summarize the necessary information to proceed to the next chapter of this article.

3. Theoretical use of mnemonics when memorizing foreign words.

So, let's try to apply the provisions set out in the previous article for our needs, remembering foreign words. The general scheme will look like this:

1. First of all, we need to form support images. In my case, about 500 images are formed. They are more than enough for a foreign language. But for informational purposes, we will take only 10 images (to understand the process of memorization.
2. Then we need to select words for memorization.
3. Form images-meanings for these words. This is important. Please note that when memorizing the word "hammer" (hammer) image the value will be the image of the "hammer", not the Hammer machine
4. Connect the reference images with the images with values ​​in order
5. Make sure that these images are remembered without gaps.
6. Now it is necessary to attach phonetic figurative codes or auxiliary images on which the word can be read on the part of the image-value.
7. Control recall of all stored information.
8. Securing these ties.

4. The practical use of mnemonics on the example of the Japanese language.

Lyrical digression. Since it’s not customary to use hieroglyphs here, I’ll just write reading in Russian.
We follow the plan outlined in the previous chapter:

Reference images

As already mentioned, reference images are formed by familiar objects. I did not write above, but for convenience (so as not to get confused), these images should be formed by mentally courting the apartment clockwise. You need to create YOUR images, and not use the ones suggested below. Spend a few minutes on it. In my case, for example, take the following:
1) Выключатель.
2) Кофеварка.
3) Плита.
4) Раковина.
5) Хлебница.
6) Крючок.
7) Стул.
8) Стол.
9) Картина.
10) Ручка от входной двери.

Words to remember

The words
1) Книга — хон.
2) Сад — нива.
3) Красный — акай.
4) Голубой — аой.
5) Идти — ику.
6) Зима — фую.
7) Корова — уси (читается с уклоном на «щ», как «ущи».
8) В (предлог) — нака.
9) Новый — атарасий.
10) Хороший — ий

Value Images

The images
1) Книга — книга.
2) Сад — скамейка (она стоит у нас в саду, поэтому для меня этот образ символизирует «сад». Вы должны использовать свой образ. Например, можно представить клумбу или лопату, если вы копаете в саду и т.д.
3) Красный — флаг СССР.
4) Голубой — море.
5) Идти — отпечаток стопы.
6) Зима — снеговик.
7) Корова — корова.
8) В (предлог) — презерватив (думаю не стоит пояснять, почему этот образ). Можно взять образ проткнутого стрелой сердца или же образ катаны в ножнах. Главное, чтобы образ был ёмким и вы могли понять слово, стоящее за ним.
9) Новый — Lamborghini Aventador. Можно взять образ новостройки или же образ какого-либо предмета, являющегося для вас новым.
10) Хороший — образ кулака с вытянутым большим пальцем вверх.

Connection of images.

This is a matter of technology. The main thing is not to break the rules (size, volume, color, detail) of images. During memorization, you need to present a reference image and an image-value so that they touch each other. Next, remember that the second image (value) must always be either above, or to the right, or go through the first. I will explain with an example. If the images “airplane” and “needle” are connected, then they must be presented so that the needle pierces the plane (and their sizes relative to each other must be the same). The TV and the book, then the book is on the TV, and the book should not be like an ordinary book, but the size of a TV.
The next moment, remember only one connection at a time. Hold images for about 6 seconds.

Consider our example:
It is necessary to connect the switch and the book. We represent the book on the switch from above (they should adjoin and be one size). Hold these two images for 6 seconds. Then move on to the next, forgetting about these. etc.
At the moment of communication, you should see only the switch and the book. Nothing else. It is important. During memorization, the concentration should be maximum, because it is difficult to keep a detailed, voluminous, large and color image of a switch and a book in your head for 6 seconds. Do not close your eyes, but set your eyes on a plain surface.

Next, when you form all the bonds in order, check yourself. Sit down and remember each image. If there are gaps, then re-form communication with problem words. When you can correctly recall all the words, then proceed to the next step.

Pronunciation memorization

In this part, difficulties may arise due to the fact that you do not have a phonetic figurative code.
The essence of this stage is to remember the pronunciation. But before that, I want to immediately warn you that if you have already memorized the sound of a word the first time, you should not remember it separately. Go to the next word. These images will be auxiliary. Over time, on the second or third day of consolidation, you will no longer need them due to the fact that the image-value and pronunciation relationship will be formed.

Take the image of the “book”. Using the technique of selecting parts of the image, we will form new images from the book.
We will bring the book closer until only the left upper part of the spine is visible. This is our new image. We will attach the syllable “ho” to it (Khomyak - the image of a hamster), as discussed above with the technique of “connecting images”. Next, we bring the bookmark of the book closer and connect it with the syllable “n” (Nose - the image of the nose). And so on. If you already have one beginning ho… you can remember “hon”, then the second image does not have to be remembered. In practice, I remember the first two syllables. Further, the brain can automatically read them. Maybe this is due to the fact that at school I watched a lot of Japanese animation in the original with subtitles, and my brain remembered them. Or maybe not. But this was not the case with Arabic. I had to fix all the syllables. See for yourself.

Associate pronunciation with image-value in the same way.
Here is a list of images for individual syllables, compiled by the author. Using it, you can easily combine pronunciation and image-meaning.

The only problem that may arise is with the word “new,” since there are 5 syllables, so 5 parts must be distinguished. I propose this option:
1) In front of the car.
2) Headlights.
3) Wheels.
4) Rear view of the car (this view is unforgettable).
5) Dashboard.

Connect in series, but separately Apricot, Tarakan, Rocket, SIrop, Needle with selected parts. Everything is simple.

Then you check whether you can recall the meaning from the auxiliary images or not. If not, then we need to strengthen the bond, securing it again. If you do not get distracted and consistently form all the connections, the percentage of primary memorization ranges from 70 to 80 percent. As a skill develops, quality increases.

I will not dwell on the consolidation of ties, because it has already been said where and how to conduct it. I repeat only that consolidation should be done by recalling information, and not by reading. You quickly run through the images of “book” - “hon” ... to the end. And then go about your business. 3 times a day for 3-4 days.

When you fix the image-meaning and sound, then if you meet “hon” in the text, the “book” will automatically pop up. I want to note that the spelling of hieroglyphs can also be memorized, but an additional element is added, when after the pronunciation it is necessary to mentally draw a hieroglyph.
On the fourth day, a situation may arise that you do not remember the words, but it randomly flashes in your head. The author calls this reminiscence. It's okay, this is a sign that the words are remembered.

Problems and main issues arising in the transition from theory to practice.

Here I will publish important, from my point of view, questions that will be asked by the users of the site if they arise. But before that, I would like to solve the problems that I encountered when I began to practice mnemonics when learning foreign words.

1. When connecting images, the second image is not remembered.
This issue is resolved by practice. The author has all the training stretched for 5 months, three lessons per week. The main thing is not to depart from the basic principles set forth in the theoretical part.

2. How to remember long words? After all, not all images can distinguish many parts.
When words are remembered, in practice the method with which I introduced you (recording sound by figurative codes) with other methods, for example, coding by consonance, is combined. The word "terrible" is replaced by a THERMometer (consonant word) + Pin and Magnifier (these are figurative codes for the corresponding sounds of the English language). Thus, it is possible to compactly record long words, which are not so many. “AtarasiKunaKatta” - is translated as “was not new”, but this word is derived from “Atarasi”, and “kunakatta” is just a suffix. And you will learn it while studying grammar, so there is no need to memorize it separately.

3. Will I run out of support images?
In practice, 200 figurative codes are enough to memorize 50 new words every day, because the images are overwritten.
For example, you learn 50 words on the first day, the next fifty dollars on the second (but still repeat the first 50), etc., and on the fifth day you already learn the new 50 on the first 50 reference images, but repeat the previous 150 to consolidate .

4. Is mnemonics easy?
Not. This is quite time consuming. Especially at first, when you are trying to remember a word, but freeze on the fact that you can’t find the right image. But it’s more effective and fun than boring repetition of a word over and over again. Over time, the process will be automated and everything will go faster, but this is not easier. The brain will still strain.

5. Restrictions in the amount of stored information?
Only in how many supporting images and free time you have. Images do not merge and do not mix.

the end

Thanks for attention! I hope I convinced you that mnemonics can be used to memorize foreign words, and I am interested in that you will become more familiar with this tool on your own. This article is just the tip of the iceberg of these wonderful tricks and techniques.

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