How to Improve Memory for Language Learning

How to Improve Memory for Language Learning

You might be learning a new language and you're having a hard time remembering the words, grammatical rules, and the gender of each word.

There are a lot of people who know 3 or more languages. While it's definitely easier to pick up new languages when you're younger, it's not impossible to do it in your adult years. Your memory just needs a little boost.

Here are 4 ways you can improve your memory for language learning:

1. Keep Reviewing Your Vocabulary

This is probably the most common method in learning a new language and for good reasons.

It's impossible to immediately lodge thousands of new words in your long-term memory just by reading about them once. You have to routinely recall the foreign words you want to learn. Make flashcards with a word in your first language on one side and the foreign translation on the other. Test yourself once in a while.

Don't make the mistake of throwing away flashcards you've successfully recalled once though. Some people ignore the flashcards with words they think they've already memorized so they can focus on the words that are harder to recall. This is not an effective practice. The chances of you still forgetting them, later on, is high so review all the flashcards when you can.

2. Exercise Regularly

Multiple studies have shown that parts of the brain that control memory have a bigger volume in people who regularly exercise compare to those who don't. This will definitely help when you're learning a new language.

Your exercise doesn't have to be intensive either to achieve this. Moderate exercise for at least six months could show promising developments in brain function. Only an hour of brisk walking twice a week is the minimum exercise required to improve memory. If you'd prefer more intensive workouts, swimming, basketball, tennis, and similar activities are also recommended.

3. Immerse Yourself in The Language

There is no better way to remember than to constantly expose yourself to both written and spoken language.

Watch movies, nursery rhymes, and TV shows in the language. Communicate with a friend who speaks the language you want to learn. Some even change the language of their phone's system.

The premise is similar to why flashcards are used in learning a foreign language. You are forcing yourself to constantly recall the words and syntax you learned so they'd stick.

4. Use Mnemonics

Mnemonics greatly help in remembering all sorts of things. Make associations between new words and familiar words or visual concepts.

For example, a popular mnemonic device for remembering the taxonomy order is King Philip Came Over From Great Spain. The Initial letters in this phrase correspond to Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, and Species.

You can do the same in learning a foreign language, but it helps to be a little more visual.

The German word for caterpillar is raupe. To help you remember, imagine the caterpillar as an animal that closely resembles a rope, being segmented and all. When you think of a caterpillar and conjure this mental image, you'd recall that the German word for it is the one that sounds like a rope.

How can flashcards aid in language learning, and what common mistake should learners avoid when using them?

Flashcards help reinforce vocabulary by testing recall of foreign words. 

What role does regular exercise play in improving memory for language learning, according to studies?

Studies indicate that regular exercise can increase the volume of brain areas associated with memory, which is beneficial for language learning. Even moderate exercise, such as brisk walking for an hour twice a week, can yield promising results.

How can mnemonics assist in language learning, and what example illustrates this technique?

Mnemonics aid memory retention by creating associations between new words and familiar concepts. For instance, associating the German word "raupe" (caterpillar) with the visual image of a segmented rope can help recall the word more easily.

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