Key-Word Association and Daisy Chaining to Remember Foreign Language Vocabulary(Mnemonics)

by Dan Bauer
(Denver, Colorado)

Key-Word Association and Daisy Chaining to Remember Foreign Language Vocabulary(Mnemonics)


Mnemonics means any method or strategy used to improve the memory. Mnemonics is used for numbers, speeches, names, words, faces, etc. Each has a specialty use in an area whereby it contributes the most value and impact for the particular need. Some strategies work best for numbers, other to remember speeches, and some work for learning new languages.

One that is extremely successful with Foreign Language Vocabulary is Key-Word Associations. Key-words, combined with drill buildups and implementation, multiplies effectiveness exponentially.

How Key-Word Association Works:

Key-Word Association is simple and for this reason is fast and easy once you know to do it. It simply means connecting one idea or thing with another idea or thing. In vocabulary building it means you connect a foreign word with an English word that sounds similar to the way the foreign word sounds. Once you mentally sound out the English word, the foreign word is automatically there for you. The secret that makes this technique work so easily and effectively is visualization. By the way, the phrase 'key-word' means word or phrase.

The Connection Tool Secret:

How you connect the key-word to the foreign word is the crux of how this powerful method works. Simply put, you make the connection through visualization. Why it is so effective is what we already know, 'a picture is worth a thousand words.'

The way it works is simple: the mental picture represents the meaning of the foreign word, while the picture delivers the sound of the foreign word by use of the English word pronunciation. Shortly, we will give some examples to solidify what this means. But for now, it is just a matter of using a mental picture to tie together a foreign word that sounds like the English key-word or phrase. The reason it works so well is the connection is accomplished by means of a picture.

Foreign Key-Word Mnemonics Steps:

First, make an association of the foreign word with an English key-word or words. For example: the word for ICE in Russian is pronounced; lee yoh t. Transform that into the key-word LOAD.

Next, make a mental picture associating this key word with the foreign word. You could imagine an ICE truck turns over in an accident, and the whole LOAD is dumped in your convertible!

The association of LOAD with the foreign pronunciation, lee yoh t, is not an exact reproduction of the pronunciation, but it is close enough to remind you of the word, so that it is a highly efficient reminder. Even a reminder of just one or two syllables in a word is helpful.

To improve the usefulness of this method, the image must be VIVID! If the ice truck and car aren't actually pictured in your mind, your recall of the word will be weaker also. Actually picture the event as being real in your mind. What kind of ice truck was it? How fast was it going? Why did it turn over? How did the whole LOAD spill? What were you doing in your car? How did it feel to have the ice dumped over you? How did you get out, and so on.

Exaggeration also helps, the more outrageous the image, the better. You could picture the ice truck actually flying through the air upside down over your car. But the load of ice doesn't actually drop until the instant it's overhead!

The more you do, the easier and faster you will be able to use this technique. Furthermore, you will begin to notice your entire mental thought process will improve in speed and overall retention.

If you want to multiply the effectiveness of this powerful technique, you will need to learn and add the Daisy Chain Drill to your process.

The Daisy-Chain Drill System:

You have already learned the hardest part of this technique earlier when you learned the foreign key-word mnemonic technique. That technique is the foundation to the Daisy-Chain Drill System. The idea just takes the visualization tool one step further by simply modifying your original mental image. Let's see an example of how this works.

Picture in your mind a small, tiny little horse. You have built a little shed for that horse to protect it from the weather. But because the horse is so little and tiny, the shed is very low to the ground. So you could say, because the shed is very low you call it 'LOW-SHED.' Have you guessed where I am going with this? LOW-SHED sounds like the Russian word for 'HORSE.' There's another new word for you--'LOW-SHED' means HORSE in Russian. Of course, 'LOW-SHED' is just how the word for horse sounds, but that's not how it is spelled using the Russian alphabet.

Now comes the power of Daisy-Chaining. Modify your earlier mental image of the truckload of ice and replace the part where the ice load spills on you with it spilling onto the low shed that protects your little horse. So now you see the truckload of ICE spilling on the LOW-SHED that protects the little HORSE.

By this method, you Daisy-Chained together those two words with one mental picture. I'm sure you are already ahead of me and thinking, 'If I can combine two words into one picture, why not combine 3, 4, 10 or 20 words into one picture?' Don't do that because it defeats the Drill aspect of Daisy Chain Drills and Drill Buildup Speed. I'll explain this in a moment. The goal is to place 2 and only 2 Foreign words in each pictorial image.

Now we will use the Russian word for 'FOOT' - 'stoop-nyah.' Picture in your mind stooping down to that 'LOW-SHED' next to your FOOT and picking up the tiny little HORSE. What you end up with are 2 mental pictures. One shows you a load of ICE spilling onto the LOW-SHED; and a second picture of you STOOPING down to the LOW-SHED to pick up the little HORSE. Across these 2 pictures you have 3 Foreign words: 'LOAD' meaning ICE; 'LOW-SHED' meaning HORSE; and 'STOOP-NYAH' meaning FOOT.

Note that only 2 words are used in each picture and that each picture contains an image in common across the 2 pictures. In this case, the 'LOW-SHED' is seen in both pictures. First, the 'LOAD' is dumped on the 'LOW-SHED.' In the second image you 'STOOP' down to the 'LOW-SHED' to pick up the HORSE. This image-in-common is what constitutes the Daisy Chain.

There are two important reasons for using 2 words in each picture. 1) When you see the image, you know there will only be 2 words. In other words, you keep it simple by having a dependable fact - only 2 words; 2) Further, by keeping this approach simple by the requirement of using imagination to chain together just 2 images, makes it easy to build up a list of words fast. That list of words becomes a 'Drill,' (which is what you have done so far) which in turn, made a strong impression of each word in your mind by use of a visual image. Then, by placing an image-in-common across 2 pictures, you have created a bridge between both pictures. Now you are positioned for the Daisy Chain Drills.

Daisy Chain Drills:

By bridging 2 pictures by having (1) image overlapping across those 2 pictures, you have effectively chained or linked those 2 pictures together. This is the foundation for Daisy Chains. It is just the same as with a physical chain. You make the chain as long as you like, just by adding links to the end of the chain. To recall the 3 words you learned, you just need to remember the 2 pictures. First the 'load' picture, then the 'stooping' picture. It's that simple. However, in a Daisy Chain Drill, more pictures are needed.

A Daisy Chain Drill is made up of 20 separate pictures. So you need to link 18 more pictures into the chain of the 2 you currently have. The result is a list of 21 words. Each picture naturally leads to the next by the bridge made between each picture. This chain of 20 becomes the Daisy Chain Drill... What ends up happening is once you see in you mind's eye any one of those 20 pictures, you can either follow through back to the beginning, or go forward to the end of that link. So you end up with a Daisy Chain Drill that you can instantly call to mind whereby you can accurately review or 'drill' yourself at anytime or anyplace. So if you are waiting in line at a grocery store or any other place where you have to wait, you can instantly call to mind a Daisy Chain Drill and review 20 Foreign words without any effort whatsoever.

You can build up as many Daisy Chain Drills as you please, and you will be pleasantly surprised just how fast and how easy you will build a powerful, useful and usable Foreign vocabulary.

Dan Bauer

danbauerjr@aol.com


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