You’d love to know how to memorize vocabulary at epic speeds, right?
Whether it’s for improving your mother tongue or learning a new language, the desire to expand your vocabulary is natural.
In fact, if you don’t want to get better with language, you really need to sit down and think about why you aren’t devoted to lifelong learning.
Knowledge truly is power, after all, especially when you apply it to speaking.
People who speak well perform better at all aspects in life, love and professionalism.
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A Brief History Of How I Fell In Love With Memorizing Vocabulary
During both high school and university, I loved looking through my thesaurus.
I would regularly “beef up” my term papers with “five” and “ten dollar words” to make my writing more interesting and to teach myself more words.
For example, I learned the word “solipsism” when researching and writing a 3rd year university paper in “Shakespeare and his Contemporaries,” taught by Dr. Derek Cohen.
He noticed that I used this word when grading the paper and this encouraged me to explore interesting vocabulary even more.
Soon I was talking about “architectonic tautology,” “paratexts” and whipping out all kinds of ancient Greek and Latin terms in my writing.
And never for the sake of my ego.
It was for the love of language and the knowledge that using words well brings.
These days, you can access an online dictionary and thesaurus in ways that are a lot simpler than thumbing through a well-worn set of word collections on your desk.
But no matter how you access your words, you really can make vocabulary acquisition effortless and limitless.
Why Rote Learning Any Word Is Painfully Slow
Back then, I used rote learning to memorize those words.
It was painful!
Why is rote learning so annoying?
For one thing, it’s repetitive and boring.
It’s also not fun.
And research typically shows that you get only about a 40% rate of recall.
With mnemonics, on the other hand, anyone can boost that rate of recall to 80%.
And when you practice with memory techniques regularly, that rate will rise even higher. Here’s how to practice memory techniques for studying anything, including improving your language abilities.
I’m so glad I learned about memory techniques like the Memory Palace during my Ph.D. years.
This special strategy taught me how to memorize oodles of difficult vocabulary quickly.
So what if I told you that you could become an absolute Titan of word power in a way that is fast, easy and fun?
Well, you can. And you have this ability within yourself right now.
You have all the tools you could ever need to drastically expand your vocabulary, by improving your ability to memorize words.
Basic Rules That Let You Memorize Vocabulary Forever
Let’s begin with a bird’s eye view of vocabulary memorization.
Let’s face it:
You may be overwhelmed at the beginning with questions about where to start.
This feeling is normal.
After all, there are well over a million words in the English language alone.
How could you even make a dent in this number, never mind if you are learning a second or third language? Let me break it down in simple terms.
1. Your goal is to memorize the sound and the meaning of a word.
2. You do this by having a Memory Palace Network prepared in advance.
3. When you know how to navigate the Memory Palace Network well, you “encode” each word using Magnetic Mnemonic Imagery.
4. You use Recall Rehearsal to get the words into long term memory.
5. You use the Big 5 of Learning to speed up the process and ensure longevity.
If you have any doubts about putting these steps into action, please remember that bilingualism makes for a healthier brain. You owe it to your long term health.
The Amazing Truth About How To Memorize Word Meanings
Now, when I talk about memorizing the sound and meaning of a word at the same time, this doesn’t mean EVERY meaning of a word.
We’re talking about one, or at most two, meanings of any given word when we start.
Be willing to let the 430 other possible definitions and usages listed in the Oxford Dictionary go.
The same thing goes for German or any other language.
Speaking of German, here’s The Story Of How To Learn and Memorize German Vocabulary It’s about my very first book on memorizing vocabulary and includes more mnemonic examples to help you memorize vocabulary forever.
You Do Not Have To Commit Every Meaning To Memory To Learn A Word
Again, just because multiple definitions exist, this fact does not mean you should commit them all to memory.
You need only to memorize the one, or very few, meanings relevant to you.
You do this by thinking about the Magnetic Station in your Memory Palace.
Then you create Magnetic Images that remind you of the sound and one core meaning of the word.
Then, take a deep breath.
Come back and do Recall Rehearsal later and encode a few more words.
Or you can come back and add an entire phrase to the word.
Often less is more. Keep that principle in mind.
The Powerful Rule Of Difference In Vocabulary Memorization
Each word is different.
Words have varying syllables, different origins, and are fluid in certain grammatical contexts.
Words might also be changeable when you add prefixes and suffixes.
Don’t turn these changes into the enemy!
Just treat these changes like the beautiful differences in a diverse experience of language that they represent.
And then memorize them as individual examples like you would any other word.
If you want to scale the process, you can sometimes create a Memory Palace series just for regular and irregular verbs.
If you’re still unclear about what this technique involves, here are 5 Memory Palace examples. Even better, try this:
But only use Memory Palaces if you find them helpful.
Whatever you do, don’t generalize the process too much.
There is no “one-size-fits-all” magic bullet that will work with every single word when it comes to memory techniques for language learning.
Words do not all behave the same, and we cannot treat them as if they do.
Once we understand that we must work with vocabulary individually we are ready to hit the ground running.
The Magic Of Word Grouping for Memorization
Do you remember learning to count syllables as a kid?
Perhaps your elementary school teacher taught you to clap with each syllable as you said words out loud.
Maybe he taught to you hold your hand under your chin and count every time your jaw would “drop” when you said the word aloud as a syllable.
I have a friend who remembers practicing se-ven, el-e-phant, yel-low, and rock-et as a young child. She made a game of it.
She found it exciting!
And it is exciting. You can take a little bit of that wonder, that excitement, and put it into practice with vocabulary memorization techniques.
Group words with the same number of syllables together.
Arranging words in a like with like form based on syllable is a powerful tool to help with memorization.
You can also experiment with arranging words by vowels.
Another professor I learned a lot from named Christian Bök spent a long time arranging words by vowel for his excellent book, Eunoia. Here’s a sample:
Do you notice what he’s doing here?
All of the words in this passage feature only one vowel. “I.”
Although you might not do exactly this in your own Memory Palace Network, I’m sure reading more of Bök’s works will inspire you to think up many games you can play with language learning.
Sure, organizing words takes a bit of initial legwork.
The Horrible Price Language Learners Pay When They Fail To Plan
But what happens when you don’t craft a vocabulary list and arrange it for strategic memorization?
But when you tackle it strategically for use in Memory Palaces, you will have a simple key to success with memorization.
Why Practice Makes Progress Better Than Any Memorize Vocabulary App
Once you have your target vocabulary organized and know what you need to commit to memory, you are free to practice using memory techniques for language learning.
You can now focus solely on the task of expanding your vocabulary.
It really is that simple.
How do you improve your abilities with memorizing vocabulary with consistent growth over time?
You memorize vocabulary.
Commit to practicing a word list every single day.
The Freedom Journal used for language learning will help because I’ve shown you how to combine it with a Memory Palace technique.
Gradually you will notice improvement – if not very quickly.
Chart this improvement in your Memory Journal. You will soon see how far you’ve come.
The Power Of Context For Memorizing More Words Quickly
Then, use your memorized words in context.
Just as with any other memory technique, the key is immersion.
Use your vocabulary when reading, writing, speaking, and listening.
Use The Big Five techniques to your advantage.
How To Choose The Words You Memorize Wisely
Another rule of context that is so simple, yet profound is to choose the words you memorize carefully.
Just as we discussed the bird’s eye view of memorizing relevant definitions, the actual words you seek to memorize should only be ones that will improve your life.
If the list of words is not improving your life and moving you towards your goals, then the words really have no business being memorized.
There are many sources of word lists, but Ogden’s Basic English is a great and free source for figuring out what words you might want to learn in any language.
You just need to make sure you have goals – meaningful goals.
What are some goals you might have for memorizing vocabulary?
* Learning a foreign language
* Studying Medicine
* Preparing to pass a law exam
All of these goals add meaning to your efforts, which is essential to the formulation of a life long skill that becomes habitual.
A Review Of The Fundamentals With A Few Mnemonic Examples
Why does meaning matter so much when memorizing vocabulary?
To really commit words to memory they must be more than just words.
In addition to having a reason for memorizing them, meaning will help you come up with associations, especially when the going gets tough.
For example, there are a lot of Sanskrit words I’ve been memorizing and it’s only because I have a meaningful goal driving my project that I’ve been able to push through.
In addition to the mnemonic examples in that video, recent research further validates the notion that the signing and chanting element also play a role in memory formation.
Of course, we usually aren’t singing the vocabulary we learn. Definitely do that in the shower if you’re worried that people won’t like your voice!
And with singing on your side, here are some every day words in English that are quite challenging.
All you have to do in addition to having a Memory Palace ready is to associate each word with images.
And think about how these examples apply to the words you want to learn and memorize.
“Account” Mnemonic Example With Magnetic Action
Think of the word “account.”
If you’re like me you grew up with Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, and a host of other characters on the children’s show Sesame Street.
Who taught you numbers? Count von Count, right?
He’s the one who taught me, and because he is deep in my brain’s chemistry, he’s the perfect “sound-match” for “count” in “account.”
But we have an additional “AC” to add to that word.
For that, think of an air conditioner falling out of a window onto the Count.
To get the meaning into the image, this air conditioner also looks a fair amount like a calculator – the tool used by an accountant while engaged in the act of accounting.
This action and object-based visualization with a meaningful character from pop culture almost guarantees you’ll not forget that word.
Because movement catches the “mind’s eye.”
Even if you have “aphantasia,” you will likely find this imagery shocking to you.
The only “trick” is that the images and actions are meaningful to you.
The next example will demonstrate this principle a bit further.
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“Agreement” Mnemonic Example with Personal Magnetic Imagery
As with the Count in “account,” the word “agreement” needs some tender loving care.
Since I took Agriculture 11 in high school where we learned to farm and about different cuts of meat, I can visualize my teacher of that class, Mrs. Sanderson.
Although I never saw here getting greedy with mints or cackling like the Wicked Witch of the West at her desk, it’s useful to think of her that way.
Because she taught Agriculture and her being greedy over her drawer full of the red and white disc peppermints helps create the sound “agreement.”
Next, all I have to do is see, feel and hear myself agreeing with her greed so that I’m in agreement with her actions.
This visualization easily helps me commit the word agreement to memory as I paint this picture in my mind.
The Truth About Mnemonic Examples For Learning And Remembering Vocabulary
Mnemonic examples like these can only get you so far.
You need to understand and then practice the mnemonic principles that underly the memorization techniques.
Take what is relevant to you from these examples and apply the techniques to the words that will help you achieve meaningful goals.
Create engaging mental pictures that come to life in your mind as you break the words down into parts.
You can also create stories from the actions you create if that helps you.
Here’s the best part:
Because you have taken the time to play with these words and interacted with them you will naturally start to remember them.
It’s so simple once you break it down, word by word, piece by piece.
Why Memorizing Vocabulary Is The Most Important Skill In The World
Memorizing vocabulary is not only the easiest skill, but it’s also the most important skill you’ll ever have.
Almost all of the most important information we use to survive is transmitted through words. They are the building blocks of all language and information.
Vocabulary is crucial and essential to improvement in all areas of life. In short, words are fundamental to success as a lifelong learner.
To grow you must have a solid foundation.
So let me know:
What vocabulary are you going to memorize now that you know these memorization secrets?