Mnemonic your Memory. Create Mnemonics to Remember Your Stuff. 3 Easy Steps.
Remember mnemonics? A mnemonic helps you recall facts and remember your stuff with minimal effort. As a learning strategy or to pass tests easily mnemonics are highly efficient...
Remember mnemonics? A mnemonic helps you recall facts and remember your stuff with minimal effort. As a learning strategy or to pass tests easily mnemonics are highly efficient; try asking people to name the colours of the rainbow, those that get them right and in the correct order will almost invariably be using a mnemonic such as 'Roy G. Biv' or 'Richard of York gave battle in vain'.
Acrostic mnemonics such as 'naughty elephants squirt water' use the first letter of an easily remembered word or phrase to memorize target keywords, in this case North, East, South, West. Knowledge of all kinds can be remembered using mnemonics; medical mnemonics and planet mnemonics are particularly popular. So how do we go about learning using the power of mnemonics?
1- Boil down your theme to a set of keywords Ė each keyword when remembered will jog your memory for the subject you wish to recall. Place keywords in a sensible order if order is important. Eg keywords: North, East, South, West or Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune (Pluto is now only a dwarf planet and a cartoon dog!)
2- Create a mnemonic: each word in your memorable mnemonic phrase begins with the first letters of each of your keywords Eg 'Naughty elephants squirt water' or 'Many volcanoes erupt making jelly sandwiches until nightfall'. If it's crazy, nonsensical or rude you will most likely assimilate the information all the more readily! Internet tools can help you create a mnemonic efficiently.
3- Write down your mnemonic and the keywords it elicits and carry this note with you. Practise remembering your mnemonic and keywords. Your brain does much of its organising of memory while you sleep so you may find it most effective to assimilate your information over a couple of days if you have the time; strengthening the neural pathways related to your keywords and the mnemonic that elicits them in your brain, relating the keywords to the broader thoughts that they represent. In spare moments during the day, recall your mnemonic and the keywords it represents; check your note if you forget. Sometimes you will forget a keyword, sometimes you'll forget a word from your mnemonic: the linked structure of your mnemonic coupled with your familiarity with the general topic and keywords will allow you to cross reference your mnemonic with your target information and in a short while you'll have remembered your stuff.
1- Keyword substitution: give your brain a break. Which word in a mnemonic will you select to facilitate recall of your target keyword? What reminds you of a particular bone for a medical mnemonic? What reminds you of Venus for a planet mnemonic? It may be enough to have any word beginning with the same initial letter but it is recommended to stick as closely to the keyword as possible, the more letters of your target keyword you can use in your mnemonic word the better: sometimes it is possible to use the complete keyword as a mnemonic word: in recalling the countries around Iraq (Joyriding scarecrows infuriate kindly turkey salesmen = Jordan, Syria, Iran, Kuwait, Turkey, Saudi) the keyword Turkey requires no mental effort at all from its mnemonic-word, whilst the first couple of letters of Jordan and Saudi are present in their mnemonic-words 'joyriding' and 'salesmen' making the task of recalling the target keywords from their mnemonic word simpler for your brain. Substituting keywords for mnemonic words helps learners unite keywords with concepts they already know and thus makes the new knowledge highly accessible.
2- Imaginative imagery: ridiculous is sublime. Making a memory easy to recall means focusing in an original way, as the wonderful Lucas and Lorraine advocate in memorization tasks. The crazier, the more immense, the more colourful your mnemonic the more effective it will be. Your mnemonic is your own, no-one can break into your brain, so lace your mnemonic with your own personal, lovable madness; many of the most memorable mnemonics are ludicrous and highly personal; joyfully make your mnemonic disgusting and inappropriate; it will make it easier to remember and the process will be all the more fun! If your mnemonic isnít disgusting at least make it remarkable; a situation which is highly unusual, in the above example to recall countries around Iraq it is simple matter for the brain to recall 'joyriding scarecrows'; similarly 'turkey salesmen' are easily envisaged. You can create imagery that's easy to remember by making elements of your mnemonic numerous (millions of bees/fridges/hamburgers), huge or crazy in some way. Adding action to your mnemonic will help too; an erupting volcano may be easier to recall than a dormant one; if there were, for example, a man in a boat rowing down the lava that would be remarkable. If the man wore a hat made of gravy and that gravy trickled down his face etc. You get the point- the more into the story-creating you get, the more memorable will be your mnemonic; in creating a fabulous and highly memorable mnemonic the ridiculous is sublime.
3- Effective linking: structure to your learning. We have evolved from people who passed on information via storytelling. One of the few theories people often recall is that of gravity famously posited (by Newton) when an apple fell on his head- why is this easy to remember? An apple falling on a guy's head is easily and amusingly imaginable and therefore simple to recall. Your ancestors passed knowledge to each other through story-telling, your memory works by association; your brain finds it easy to remember stories. One thing leads to another. The term 'in the first place' is said to have originated from the ancient and still effective method of linking thoughts- the method of loci: essentially this consists of substituting your keyword and placing the resulting image in a familiar place along a familiar route: your first place could, for example, be the entrance to your house, the second the kitchen and so on. Later, when you came to recall the information you might muse: 'in the first place...'
The word mnemonic originates from mnemonikos, a Greek word relating to memory and remembering. Mnemonics travel under many guises: peg-words, chunking, acronyms, acrostics, loci and so on which we'll perhaps cover another time. Essentially, memory systems are based on working with our brains to memorize things in a natural way- building on our talent as story-tellers and story comprehenders. Tell a story to yourself or your learners and unlock the secrets of the memory masters.
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