Mnemonics are methods of remembering, storing, and reconstructing information. They work well both when studying for an important exam, as well as in everyday life, for remembering dates, names, and shopping lists. Check the role of mnemonics in the learning process and learn about the most popular methods that will help you improve your memory, concentration, and creativity.
Mnemonics – what are they?
Many people wonder what mnemonics is. Simply put, mnemonics are methods of better remembering, storing, and retrieving information that shorten the learning process. They use three basic principles – association, context, and imagination. The word “mnemonics” create to combines two Greek words – mneme (memory) and technicos (made following art). It is also said to come from the name of the Greek goddess and titanic, the personification of language and memory – Mnemosa. The creator of mnemonics is considered to be Simonides of Keos – the Greek lyricist who was the first to use the memory palace method. Mnemonic methods were widely used in antiquity, but the scientific community recognized their effectiveness only in the twentieth century.
The popularity of mnemonics in language education and learning
Where did the popularity of mnemonics in the learning process come from? All thanks to their extraordinary effectiveness – they stimulate both the right and left hemispheres of the brain. The former is responsible for imagination, abstract thinking, and creativity, while the latter is responsible for logical and analytical thinking. Stimulation of both hemispheres gives excellent results. Instead of applying the 3 x Z principle popular among students and students, we can create colorful images and stories, thanks to which we can remember up to 7 times faster, and information is stored in our memory for much longer. Mnemonics make learning faster and more fun.
Application of mnemonics
Where do mnemonics use? The use of memory techniques is recommended at every level of education, but they are also perfect for everyday life, to make it easier to remember, for example:
- Names of newly met people;
- Codes, passwords, PINs;
- Phone numbers;
- Shopping lists;
- Information from workshops, lectures, training;
- Relevant dates.
Mnemonics are also great at increasing creativity, improving memory and concentration.
Mnemonics – types
There are two basic types of mnemonics:
- Simple mnemonics – these include acronyms, rhymes, pairing, the first letter system, association systems, numbers represented by words and word games;
- Complex mnemonics – using the imagination.
Mnemonics – examples, and exercises
There are so many mnemonic methods that everyone will surely find the most suitable one. Here we will focus on those that are the most popular and bring the best results while learning.
Acronyms, or acronyms, are among the easiest mnemonic techniques. They consist in creating a new word or phrase, consisting of the first letters of the words that we need to remember. Ideally, the resulting word should mean something, but it’s not necessary. The acronym method uses to remember groups of words that are similar to each other. According to it, the names of the Great North American Lakes (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior) can be abbreviated to the English word HOMES, meaning “houses”. In turn, the acronym ADEK only seemingly does not mean anything. It composes of fat-soluble vitamins.
Initial letter system
The system of first letters is similar to the acronym method, but it is not an abbreviation but a whole, funny sentence, the first letters of which form a group of words. It is enough to learn the phrase “My Always Worked Mother Tomorrow I will bake a cake for me” to remember the names of the planets of the solar system – Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. The sentence “The Crow is sitting on the screen” will allow us to remember the English names of the directions of the world, read clockwise – North, East, South, West. And if we want to remember the cases in Polish, all we need to do is learn the sentence: “Mother gave her daughter a roll with country butter.” There are hidden nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, instrumental, locative, and vocative. It’s that simple, isn’t it?
What else are mnemonics? An example of a simple yet effective way of remembering is the use of fun rhymes. They make it easier to learn the spelling rules or important rules. Each of us has heard at least once in school: “Remember young chemist – always pour acid into the water” or “Whoever lines-lines gets two”, or “Poppy, tile – write these words. Exception: bolt and ferrule. Are you wondering if mnemonics can use to memorize science rules? The math and signs of trigonometric functions will be a prime example:
- “Only pluses in the first quarter,
- In the second, only sine,
- In the third, tangent and cotangent,
- And in the fourth cosine “.
Numbers represented by words
This mnemonic technique will be a great solution for people who need to remember a string of numbers. It consists in creating such a sentence, the words of which have the number of letters corresponding to a given number. To remember the first digits of Pi, the sentence “Cat and dog” is enough. If we want to remember the first ten digits, in this case, we have to learn the sentence: “Who willingly and thoughtfully wants Pi to write down the numbers, he will be able to”.
Memory hooks use to make it easier for children to remember numbers. They use a system of associating numbers with pictures, e.g. 0 – egg, 1 – candle, 2 – swan, 3 – heart, 4 – sail, 5 – hook, 6 – cherry, 7 – scythe, 8 – snowman, 9 – balloon, 10 – sword and shield. Each child can successfully come up with his associations – it all depends on his creativity and imagination. Nothing prevents adults from using the memory hook technique to memorize, for example, shopping lists. The more abstract the association is, the better!
This method of memory mnemonics will be useful both at school and in everyday life. It consists in coming up with a funny story in which words to remember will interweave. Each element should connect to the next in the way that the links of the chain connect. The story we create must be colorful, funny, and dynamic – thanks to this, remembering it will not be a problem. However, it is worth bearing in mind that it will be useful primarily for memorizing shortlists.
The memorial palace, also known as the Roman peace or the loci method, is one of the oldest mnemonics. It uses to remember not only lists but also speeches and lectures. It seems unbelievable? And yet! In the beginning, however, it is worth starting with only a few elements, and adding more over time, when we have more experience. The memory palace method is to imagine the real or imaginary place where we place items.
These, in turn, must associate with the elements that we must remember. As in the case of the chain method or memory hooks, our imaginary room and the objects in it should imaginary colored, exaggerated, and exaggerated. The more we have the skill, the more objects we can place in space. If you’ve watched the series “Sherlock”, you surely know very well that the main character used the memory palace to solve puzzles.
We have already mentioned mind maps in the post about effective and fast learning methods. The center of the map is the main issue, from which there are more detailed and general issues. In this system, it is worth using many colors, pictures, pictograms, and other visual elements. Our thoughts are used not only for learning and remembering but also for planning or developing concepts, which is why they are perfect for students, lecturers, designers, creators, and businessmen.
Main Memory System
The Main Memory System was described in the middle of the 17th century. It involves converting numbers into individual phonetic letters and is significantly more advanced than other mnemonics. For this reason, it is a good idea to try it last, once you get used to other memorization techniques. The Main Memory System allows you to remember codes, PINs, telephone numbers, date account numbers, and other digit strings.