When learning a new language it’s helpful to know how to improve your memory. Memorization is an important part of learning. I am currently learning Spanish and have found some helpful tips on how to improve memorization skills:
Get enough sleep. Your mind is like a muscle: it won’t perform its best if it is too tired. It’s also important not to get too much sleep, which can make you feel lethargic and foggy. So how much sleep is enough for you? Try keeping a regular sleep schedule and adjust according to how you feel. You will eventually find the right number for you. Continue paying attention to your body and mind and adjust that number as needed.
Exercise regularly. Exercise does wonders for the mind, such as raising oxygen, delivering endorphins, and increasing self-discipline. Try learning and memorizing within an hour or so of your exercise. Your body and mind will still be in high performance mode from your workout.
Use mnemonic devices (click link for some great examples). Like a mind bridge, mnemonic devices connect something you already know to what you are learning. For example, I was trying to memorize the Spanish word for horse, which is “el caballo“, pronounced kah-bah-yo. I associated that word with the English word “cowboy” because they sound alike. Every time I heard the word “caballo” I pictured a cowboy sitting on a horse.
Be stress free. Stress takes a tole on the mind and body. Make sure you feel relaxed before trying to learn. If you feel stressed before learning, try some simple stress release exercises. If all else fails, have a good laugh and consciously put away your troubles long enough to be relaxed and stress-free. Then jump into your learning and memorization with an open mind and smiling face.
Increase your brain power. Lastly, strengthen your brain by solving puzzles and brain teasers. Even better, find brain teasers that require memory exercises! If you start to feel frustrated while trying to memorize new words or phrases, take a break and find a few memory exercises that are fun and interesting to you. Try doing one per day for a week and see how much your memory improves.
Try these tips to help improve your memory in the language you are learning. Not learning a language yet? Guess what, learning a new language happens to be a great way to increase your brain power. Comment with your thoughts and suggestions. I am learning another language myself and could use all the help I can get!
The More Senses You Use, the More Effective the Learning
Repeat Aloud – Repeating aloud actually helps stimulate the part of the brain that controls motor skills (like speaking) and helps develop the part of the brain as related to the new language (known as “Broca’s Area” in the science world). This means that you will be more effective at the moment of conversation if you’ve practiced saying the foreign language words you learn aloud.
Type or Write the Words – As you type or write the words you learn, you are using the sense of touch to kinesthetically learn the words at a higher brain level. This also helps with future recall. Also, as you walk around your home or office, try to say the name of objects you see.
Sight – Look at Words and Relate them to pictures – (See Key #2 on Visualization)
Listen to the New Foreign Language Words – As you hear new words, you are using yet another sense to implant them into your long-term memory. You can also train your ear to hear differences in the words you learn as compared to the same sounds in your own native language. This is a key part of developing great pronunciation skills – the ability to hear the difference between sounds in your native language as compared to those in the foreign language. (For more on pronunciation, see #4) It is important to find a foreign language course that has both moving pictures in some type of software (as mentioned in the previous point) as well as audios CDs so you can practice hearing the language and learn at a higher level.
Explore our free lessons to learn a language online! Be sure and share them with others in Facebook and on Twitter.
Foreign Language Pronunciation – As an adult, your mouth and brain have been programmed to pronounce words according to your native language. When you start learning a foreign language, you tend to pronounce the new words based on your native language. In other words, you will have an accent and sound like a foreigner – it is possible that you may not even be understood. So what should you do? The key to great native pronunciation in a foreign language is to learn, see and hear how natives pronounce it, and then form habits of pronouncing the new sounds correctly. Having native pronunciation is all about forming correct habits from the beginning. If you start learning a foreign language with incorrect pronunciation, you will form habits that are difficult to break and may even stay with you for the rest of your life if you don’t initially form correct pronunciation habits. Have you ever heard foreigners who have lived in your country for 20-30 years and still have an accent? It’s because when they first learned your language, they didn’t take the time to form correct pronunciation habits, and as a result they continue saying certain sounds incorrectly. When you learn a new foreign language, it is very important to dedicate enough time to forming habits of correct pronunciation. If this is done, almost anyone can attain close-to-native speech – it just takes time and effort. If your goal is to have native or near-native speech, it is recommended that you take 15 minutes per day, three to five times a week with the sounds that are most challenging in the foreign language. Every foreign language usually has about 12 sounds that take extra work to master. Once you form a habit of correct pronunciation with these sounds, you are set for life!
Repetition (Do I really have to?) – According to the experts, in order for new foreign language words to cement themselves into your long-term memory, they must be repeated around 50 times in a meaningful way. Some courses tout “no repetition” – it’s a great thought, but words simply can’t get into your long-term memory without repetition. This presents a problem because you don’t want a repetitive, boring and tedious course to teach you; however, you do have to repeat words enough so they can have a chance to lodge themselves into your memory for later recall. The answer to this dilemma is simple. What you need is a way to repeat words and concepts in a fun way without realizing that you are repeating them. If your foreign language course doesn’t do that, you may experience “language-learning burnout” and never accomplish your goal. You should look for a course that repeats words in a meaningful way but also keeps your attention and is fun. This will help you successfully reach your goal of learning a foreign language.
Take Care my friends – we’ll see you back next week for Tip #4!
Visualization – As humans, we link the words we use to pictures; for example, if I said the word “shoes” you would maybe think of your favorite pair of shoes or possibly the ones you have on. When you learn new foreign language words, it’s important to link them with pictures so they can start penetrating your long-term memory. If you link the new words you learn to pictures, instead of having to translate from English to the foreign language, you can instantly recall what you’ve learned as your mind links the picture to the word you need to use. Repetition, the next key, along with pictures, helps words to be retained in your long-term memory better, faster and longer. Also, if the pictures you use with this technique have some type of motion or movement and represent something out of the ordinary, you will learn and retain new words longer and faster. This cuts down on your study time and makes it possible to learn more words in a shorter period of time. Remember – visualize words with action, emotion and connect them with something out of the ordinary.
Take Care my friends – we’ll see you back next week for Tip #3!
How to Study – When learning foreign language, avoid cramming which simply does not work. Your brain needs frequent sessions – approximately 3-5 per week that last between twenty and forty five minutes each. If too much is learned at once, your brain may start going into “language-learning overload”. With this in mind, it’s great to set a goal of the number of times per week you will study and a consistent study time for each session. For example, you may choose to study Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 12:00 – 12:30 p.m. during your lunch hour, or you might want to study 1/2 hour each evening before going to bed. That’s what I like doing best.
Take Care my friends – we’ll see you back next week for Tip #2!
You have probably heard the old saying, “Practice Makes Perfect”. If you have never heard that saying, well, now you have. In my opinion, the fear of making a mistake while practicing a new language hinders more people than maybe any other factor of learning a language. Here are a few tips to help you overcome the fear of making a mistake and just practice:
Have a sense of humor and laugh at yourself because it’s probably okay.
Whoever you are speaking with will most likely appreciate your efforts.
Realize that you will make mistakes. That’s part of it.
Think: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?”. It’s probably not that bad.
Keep practicing, because practice will increase confidence.
Watch this video about an experience I may have had on the beach practicing Spanish:
(Embarazado sounds like embarrassed but it actually means “pregnant” in Spanish)
So the lesson is, don’t worry about it too much. Keep practicing. You will do great! I am considered fluent in Spanish, yet I still make mistakes. Remember that, on occasion, we may make mistakes in our own native language. Mistakes are great if we learn from them. Don’t let the fear of them hold you back from reaching your goal to learn a new language!