Sometimes, the hardest part of learning a language isn’t necessarily the information, but trying to remember it. It’s frustrating when you spent so much time trying to learn new vocabulary, and then you completely forget it the next day. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to help improve your memory:
It’s human nature to try and create patterns and connect seemingly random things together. Rather than trying to remember individual words, try to group words into a larger picture. Chunking words creates something more memorable, instead of a random list of words. For example, if you’re trying to remember some adverbs, you might think of the word “FAST” (frequently, almost, still, tomorrow). That way whenever you’re trying to think of some common adverbs, you can just think of the word “FAST”. Or you may think of the saying, “pay out of your pocket.” Try to view that saying as one whole chunk, rather than dissecting and memorizing the small details. Chunking is a great way to try to make new ideas and vocabulary memorable.
Using visuals is one of the best ways to remember new vocabulary – especially if you’re a visual learner. Try labeling everything in your house, in your targeted language. That way every time you pick up your makeup brush, your toothpaste or your coffee mug, you’ll be reminded of the word and associate the word with it’s visual. You can also try to remember tricky words or sayings by creating a visual picture of it in your mind. For example, if you were trying to remember the saying, “put your money where your mouth is“, you could picture a man with a billfold over his mouth.
3. Physical Activity
Learning is more than just exercising your mental strength, you also need to use your physical strength. Studies show that getting some physical activity every day can actually help improve your memory. If you take care of your health, your memory and language skills will soon follow!
Besides getting some physical exercise, getting enough sleep can work wonders for your brain. While you sleep, your brain takes new information and strengthens the connections, that is to be used when you wake. So while you’re sleeping, your brain is actually storing new information. This means that one of the best times to review new information is before you go to bed.
5. Don’t Cram
Some students want to do all of their studying minutes before a test, but this is probably one of the worst things you can do. You won’t really remember any of the information, partly because it’s all stored in your short-term memory. If you study a little bit every day and review the same information, that information will be stored in your long-term memory. Then, you’ll be more likely to remember it when you actually need the information – like in the middle of your test!
6. Make Connections
If you make connections with new information, to the knowledge you already have, you’re more likely to remember it. If you hear a saying in English that sounds weird and confusing, try to connect it to a similar saying in your native tongue. That way whenever you think of your saying, you’ll think of the connecting saying in your native tongue, and understand it. You could even connect new vocabulary or expressions with activities you’ve done before, or with people you know. For example, if you have difficulties remembering the word eccentric, you might connect that word to your cousin who is unconventional and a little strange. That way whenever you think of the word, you’ll connect it to your cousin. You’ll also have your own personal meaning and definition for that word, which definitely helps with memory.
The best way to remember new information is to teach it to others. They don’t necessarily have to actually be there. But you can pretend you’re explaining new information to a classroom, a family member, or a friend. You could even start a blog about the topics you’re learning and explain them to your followers. If you feel like you can explain the information well, you obviously have a good understanding of the information. This technique helps with your memory because you’re repeating and reviewing the information, as well as explaining it to yourself.
Reviewing moves information from short-term memory to long-term memory. Reviewing may take a lot of work and effort, but it really is the best way to make progress. When you’re reviewing, try to read the information aloud or re-write it. Or, you could try other learning methods like flashcards, watching movies, or even writing a blog – anything to help you learn! So, review, review, review!
Try to use these 8 methods to help improve your memory, and you’ll soon see tremendous progress in your English efforts. What memory techniques work best for you?