Mnemonic techniques for memory improvement

The most difficult part of techniques for memory improvement is remembering to use them. This is the technique which you must learn first. Probably the best method to use as a reminder to remember is to use a slogan. For instance “Don’t forget to remember” is one which could be written on a card and attached to the refrigerator or the shaving mirror. Each time you see the card or think of the slogan on the card, practice one of the memory techniques.

Mnemonic techniques for memory improvement are helpful in short term memory, but are somewhat less effective for comprehension. Sometimes though, if you just want to get through a test you may be able to use some of the techniques below for memory aids.

Acronyms are words made from the first letters of other words. For example, did you know that ‘radar’ stands for Radio Detection And Ranging? Acronyms are an effective mnemonic technique when working with a list which does not have to be in any particular order. You will probably need to spend a little time rearranging the letters so they make an acronym which will come close to a word you recognize. Then, instead of remembering a list of 4-5 words, you only need remember one word.

Sentences are another memory technique which is similar to acronyms, only this time you make up a sentence using the first letter of each word. For example, using the acronym ‘radar’ above you could say “Randy doesn’t allow roughhousing.” This would help you remember the individual words ‘radio’ ‘detection’ ‘and’ ‘ranging.

Rhymes and songs are another method for learning sometimes complicated lists or formulas. For example if you were told to memorize Isaiah 9:6 from the Bible, could you do it? Chances are if you’ve ever heard Handel’s Messiah you could recite most of the verse. Many children learn to say their alphabet to the tune of ‘twinkle, twinkle little star”.

Loci which is a Latin term with the same root as location is a method which orators and speech makers use to remember major subjects or key points in their speeches. Seemingly extemporaneous speakers often use the method of loci. In order to use this method, they memorize a series of locations on a path that is familiar to them. Each location can then be tied to a block of information in a speech or oration. This method allows for naturalness and unrehearsed sounding speeches without losing any of the important points which must be covered. For example if your memorized path included your living room, your porch swing, your front gate, the stop sign on the corner, the park across the street, the bandstand, and the big oak tree in the neighbors yard and you wanted to memorize the seven continents, you might visualize Uncle Sam sitting in your living room, a Bolivian Indian sitting on your porch swing, a coil of rope hanging over your front gate (your rope). At the stop sign is the Russian bear. In the park you see Simba the Lion King watching a panda bear dancing on the bandstand. In the neighbor’s oak tree is a penguin.

Chunking is the term for breaking up long string of words or numbers into small groups and using one of the other techniques. Finally no matter which memory technique you use, practice makes perfect. This is a good method for memorizing long lists, speeches, poetry or music. You simple start with one word or phrase, repeat it and add the second word or phrase, then another repeat with the third word and so on.


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