How can I learn languages faster?
Do you imagine how wonderful it would be to memorize tons of new words in a road? If you are in the process of a second language acquisition recalling the new vocabulary can be also frustrating and frighten. It is like swimming in uncharted waters, and you are swimming with heavy chains, and hands tied, and… Well, you understood, the unknown is intimidating, and there are a lot of unknowns in foreign languages.
Don’t panic! There are techniques that can help you to memorize almost anything, and I’m about to recommend you a very useful one which you can apply in your learning process.
Greeks started it all
As Sir Henry Maine said “nothing moves in this world which is not Greek in its origin” and he was right. Ancient Greeks are the creators of the first mnemonic that exists. They called it “loci”, a memory system invented by Simonides of Ceos that consisted in liking ideas with places (Aaronson, 1985). Let me explain it better; to remember important parts of speeches, ancient orators associated their ideas to the “sequence” or lay-out of a familiar location. So if they wanted to summon up, they gave a walk to that location (in their minds, with the power of imagination) and the ideas would be aroused. It is not a difficult concept to understand, we take something that is challenging to remember, in this case the speech, and we put it in a mental place in which we feel comfortable, thereby it is easier to remember.
Today, we consider that loci is a very limited technique. Studies like the one of Nelson, Reed and McEvoy (2001) have proven that mental places are not the only aids to improve our long-term memory. We can remember things faster if we associate the new information with anything that makes us feel comfortable. Their research focus on images. They state that our brains are capable to retain the memory of an image if we fill it with a special meaning. It is called semantic encoding, when you notice a picture or you get a fresh knowledge and you immediately encode it by relating it, for example, to a meaningful experience in your life.
If you want to remember a complex word, like Flugzeug (airplane in German) you should try to associate it with your last flight to Canada. Do you have a picture of it on your phone? Then technology is about to make it even easier. With VocApp, our mobile app, you can create your own flashcard for learning languages. It is very simple, you go to “add flashcard” and after giving it a name, you choose an image from your gallery, something that you feel representative, and VocApp will do the rest.
What can VocApp do for you?
In the 1970 Sebastian Leitner designed a memory system that consisted in repetition of flashcards classified by levels of difficulty. Vocapp has improved the Leitner’s algorithm for memorizing and adapted it to the new computational technologies. Taking into consideration Letiner’s studies and the forgetting curve, the app knows when you are more willing to learn and when you’re not, when you forget words and when it is necessary to show them again in order to reinforce the gained knowledge.
With VocApp you can involve all your senses in learning languages. You just have to manage your own set of flashcards or to download a course prepared by the professors of Warsaw, the VocApp team, or any other users all around the world. There are more than 2.000.000 flashcards and they are still growing.
You will never get bored, you won’t stop learning and, relax, you don’t need the exceptional memory of Dave Farrow. Vocapp makes it simple and friendly, and we are always seeking new methods to teach you.
Aaronson, S. (1985). The use of study maps and visual mnemotechnics as an aid to recall. Literacy Research and Instruction, 24(3), 97-105.
Ardila, R. (2001). Psicología del aprendizaje. Siglo xxi.
Nelson, D. L., Reed, V. S., & McEvoy, C. L. (1977). Learning to order pictures and words: A model of sensory and semantic encoding. Journal of Experimental Psychology: human learning and memory, 3(5), 485.