Learning a foreign language is a good method that one can use to practice techniques in improving the memory. Learning a new set of vocabulary is often a matter of association of a nonsensical set of syllables with a counterpart in your own language.
Normally, most people have related foreign words by repeating it over and over again. You can improve this laborious way of learning by using two main techniques:
1. Use Mnemonics
This is a very simple method of using the association method. You can use images to link a word or phrases in your own language and its counterpart in the foreign one.
As an example, in learning English-Spanish vocabulary:
English: apple – Spanish: manzana – you can associate the last letter of manzana to the first letter of the word apple
English: olives – Spanish: oliva – just eliminate the last letter and pronounce it as olive
This kind of mnemonics was popularized by Michael Gruneberg as the LinkWord technique. Dr Gruneberg also published language books that aid language students in learning vocabulary sets needed to speak fluently. It is believed that using the LinkWord Technique, you can learn a new vocabulary set in just a day or two according to your needs.
2. The Town Language Mnemonic
This type of mnemonic technique is a combination of the Roman Room System with the Linkword Technique. This technique is based on the fact that the regular vocabulary of a language relates to common things – things that you normally find in a town. In using this technique, choose a place that you know. You can use objects within the town as cues to remember the pictures that relate to the foreign vocabulary.
For example, in learning nouns, you can associate common words to the most relevant locations. You can relate the word for a book with an image in a library. Words for fruits can be associated in a fruit stand. You can also find a market inside the town where you can learn foreign names of vegetables.
In learning adjectives, you can relate common words to a garden or a park. Words such as green, fragrant, dark, large, hot etc can be easily associated to common objects in the park. You can also find a public pool or a pond or even people and describe what you see.
If you want to learn verbs, you can learn it all in a gym or a sports center. Most activities in the sports center can be associated with foreign words for walking, dancing, jumping, swimming etc.
If you are learning a language where gender is important, an effective method is to recall it by dividing into two main categories. In one group you can code data on male gender nouns, while on the other group you can associate information on female gender nouns. If the language has other gender, then associate proper groups. You can associate these divisions with roads, ponds, lakes, rivers. Simply relate the picture with a place in the right group of the town.
Another easy way of remembering foreign words is to memorize the 100 most common words in a language. Just point out the most important words that you need to learn. Also you could show how these words are related into your own language.