Using mneumonics across languages work

I have been experimenting using mneumonics to learn a language. I have been trying to find words in any of the other languages I already know that matches the word in the new language I am trying to remember the closest. Interestingly, I have found that it does not matter that I use several languages rather than just one. The brain still remembers it. So for example if a word x sounds like a word in say German I would use that. If another word y sounds like a word in English I would use that. I always thought you could only use one language since otherwise the brain would have to go through too many loops. In fact, I think the brain just conjures up an image and it is somehow stored. I have noticed I remember long words better using pneumonics than if I just use flashcards (without the mneumonic hints).

Anyone else using mneumonics like that and have you employed several languages to create them?

I love your ‘pneumonics’ - what a great image. But as the original spelling is mnemonics, would it still stick?

Sanne - For me the meaning of your “pneumonics” would still stick. Mneumonics are great for speaking. It just jogs the brain into remember what the word was and then you remember it. Obviously it will not help much for writing but you have more time then to look things up.

I’m using ocassionlay this tip, especially when the new English word I have to aquire sounds totally different in comparision with the correspoinding word in my native language. In such cases I use to check if it sounds more similarly with a corresponding word from another language. If it does, I use it.

The fact that many people find mnemonics useful for language learning is proof that we all have different ways of learning, and different things that we enjoy doing and find useful.

Personally I have never found mnemonics worth the effort, and certainly less interesting than just plain listening and reading. I do find it worthwhile to review words, connected to a lesson in LingQ, or from tagged lists. I find it useful to look at our captured examples of usage, and I look at words that have similar components, roots, prefixes, suffixes and the like, all of which is easy to in the vocabulary section.

I am using Romance and Germanic languages mainly to make up my mneumonics.

For the sake of non native speakers, I believe the word is mnemonic not mneumonic.

what a silly mistake of mine.

I kind of figured it was some kind of inadvertent mistake that just kept on repeating itself!!

When trying to learn Chinese, then mnemonics did help ( just so very few reference points)

With Romance languages usually I dont need them, just very occasionally . I had trouble with the word zangado - Portuguese for angry , and then thought of ZZZ - the sound of an ANGry wasp ; that word is now sorted. But usually repetition is enough, especially where there are clues from similar languages

“The fact that many people find mnemonics useful for language learning is proof that we all have different ways of learning, and different things that we enjoy doing and find useful.”

I think this is how children learn a new language. From my own experience being 5 years old and learning new words by making connections with the words I already knew. So if something sounded vaguely like another word, I would remember it that way. Since children that young cannot use reading to learn a new language, prepositions and such explanations are not that usesul and hence mnemonics come into play. However, it is possible that this does not happen to everyone.

When I was five years old my family moved to Canada from Sweden. I have no recollection of my transition to English from Swedish. I just learned by listening to people around me. I think that most of the thousands and tens of thousands of words we learn, in our own language and in new languages, we acquire naturally, incidentally, with enough exposure. Very few people use mnemonics, in my view. That is not to deny that some people find them useful.

This is slightly changing the subject, but I have always found that nouns are much easier to learn than verbs. I don’t know whether anyone else finds this too?

In my experience, nouns can even be learned off by heart in random wordlists by associating them with a translation in a known language, and/or with a visual image. (The same thing basically applies to flashards or a Goldlist.)

However for verbs (and, indeed, for abstract nouns derived from verbs) this approach just doesn’t seem to work - at least it doesn’t work nearly as well. In my experience, one seems to need a more complex set of contextual information in order to assimilate the meaning(s) of a verb in a target language.

It would be quite interesting to know whether young kids learn nouns before verbs in their native language?

I think it depends on the type of noun / verb. Concrete physical objects can usually easily be learned without the need of surrounding context. While there are of course always going to be exceptions, usually things like “ball”, “table”, and actions like “to eat” are pretty easy to learn as one-off items. Words which could have a ton of multiple meanings or are difficult to describe such as “yearn” or “to treat” (which is used in a million different ways in romance languages) should really be learned properly with a surrounding context. Whenever I am making a list of single words to learn (flashcard or goldlist style) I always think about whether or not the word would need some context before I add it to the list. If it does, I save it other methods which will help me learn it in better in context.

I think you’re right, Odiernod. Now that I think about it, there are some verbs (to eat, to write, to swim, etc) which are relatively easy to learn.

I guess a rule of thumb might be: if the object/action can be depicted with a single image, then it can be learned by simple association?


Yes, I’ve heard some good things about Vocabulearn (and also some pretty terrible things about their choice of background music! :-0)

Nowadays I suppose it would actually be quite easy to create one’s own audio vocab-tracks: you could record lists of word-pairs , and then filter it and mix it with your the music of choice at 20% of normal volume. If it were just for personal use, there wouldn’t be any issues with copyrights - so you could have really excellent jazz music or something!

(The act of recording, editing and putting the whole thing together would even be part of the learning, probably.)

@ IT I first became aware that I was using mnemonics when a Japanese friend toll me about a system invented by a German which helped Germans learn Japanese. He gave the example of the words “Zimmer zehn”, which sound a bit like the word for sorry in Japanese. Indeed putting a picture context to the concept makes it quite memorable. My Japanese friend incidentally found it very powerful too despite it being his native language.

I then started using mnemnics more actively and more consciously in other languages. Chinese is not that suited for it since the tones make a lot of words sound similar hence the very mnemonics become harder to separate from each other, though it can still work.


mai3 (to buy)= May
bie2 (another)= beer

I find the more vivid the image, the better I retain it.

This method is most helpful in the initial stages of learning a new language ie when you are trying to retain a lot of vocabulary and everything is new. Once a word settles you do not need to rely on mnemonics anymore. And at that stage you start just using natural derivations (such as from prefixes). In fact I find the mnemonics method quite similar to using etymological associations such as those you use when you are learning a language close in roots to one you already know.

Using mnemonics to remember words is quite common. I have a friend who speaks Arabic and she is forever saying how she first learnt to remember a specific word because it sounded like that and that word.

@ IT . It was that “Sumimasen” my Japanese friend mentioned. He thought it was brillant that it sounded like zimmer zehn and he has been living in Germany for 20 years.

I remembered another example when I was learning Russian as a child. The word for 13 I thought sounded like “gymnastics”. I did not make the link that 3 is etymologically linked anyway. A child’s hearing sometimes is much more tuned in. Perhaps, because reading does not get in the way. You have to just rely on your hearing.

gracias marianne 10 :slight_smile: