21. Mnemonics and vocabulary recall – methods of learning new vocabulary and relating it to what you already know


Vocabulary acquisition is a widely debated field and in reality, what works for some, doesn’t for others. Take a look at my previous post 16. Vobabulary acquisition and how it has changed – a message to language learners for details.

What you need to do to advance is increase your vocabulary, and the best way of doing that is by relating words you already know to the new, the internet is a great resource for this and you should encourage your students to check out an online thesaurus HERE. This is an important process to form the language web that is essential to be able to recall vocabulary when in full conversation.

Another important thing is taking your native language and using it for conext, wordreference HERE is the best source that I have found for this. It is great as you can debate on forums the usage of vocabulary. If the learners speak a language related to the latin or germanic roots, you as the teacher can save a lot of time associating vocabulary from their native tongue to the English equivilent, taking into account the possible false friends (very important with spanish speakers).

When we are trying to increase our vocabulary base we need to consider various methods with which to do so. An interesting method comes in the form of Mnemonics. Mnemonics are memory devices that help learners recall larger pieces of information, especially in the form of lists like characteristics, steps, stages, parts, phases, etc. These are recognised techniques to learn new vocabulary and be able to recall it when needs be. We knew back in 1967 from a study by Gerald R. Miller that mnemonics increased recall. He found that students who regularly used mnemonic devices increased test scores up to 77%! There are various types of mnemonics and the best type depends on the individual learner. The 9 basic types of mnemonics include Music, Name, Expression  and word, Model, Ode/Rhyme, Note Organization, Image, Connection, and Spelling Mnemonics.

By Dennis Congos, University of Central Florida (http://www.learningassistance.com/2006/january/mnemonics.html HERE)

What I consider to be the best form is through conext. Relating vocabulary to contexts helps with recall. Mnemonics make use of elaborative encoding, retrieval cues, and imagery as specific tools to encode any given information in a way that allows for efficient storage and retrieval. These strategies allow us to relate vocabulary to things that are more meaningful to our lives. A good strategy is to create stories with vocabulary so that you can link and relate the new words and then later recall them through thinking about the story. Learners enjoy being creative and developing these hypothetical situations.




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