Mnemonic devices, generally known as memory devices are learning methods that help learners to remember and retain information. This includes elaborative encoding, memory retrieval cues, and imagination to convert information into easy-to-remember things. Also, interlinking new information with the information that is already known makes it more meaningful, which in turn helps in information retention. Simply, mnemonics are an effective way of memorizing information in a way that sticks to our brain and can be recollected with ease.
Have you ever thought of a way that could have helped Munna bhai from Munna bhai M.B.B.S to at least learn medical terms and not depend on jaddu ki jhappi to become a doctor (well he didn't become a doctor though)? Yes, mnemonics can be one of them.
Let's get started with different Mnemonic devices and how they can help children with learning.
You might find this familiar "I can so effortlessly remember many lyrics to songs but can't remember when it comes to boring information”'. Music is a very powerful technique to memorize long lists of information.
For example, Children memorize the alphabet by singing the 'ABC' song.
These are also called acronyms in which initial letters of many words are combined to form a new word.
For example, VIBGYOR is used to remember the colors of the rainbow
The first letter of each word is blended to come up with a sentence or a phrase.
For example: “My very educated mother just served us nuggets” that can be used to remember the names of the planets as Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune.
Ode mnemonic is a way in which information can be remembered in the form of doggerel or poems. You can use words that rhyme with the information you need to remember and make a poem out of it. Poems are easy to remember as they have a flow.
For example: To remember the total number of days in various months we can learn this poem as a mnemonic: 30 days in September, April, June, and November. All the rest have 31. Except for February my dear son. It has 28 and that is fine. But in Leap Year it has 29.
Organizing notes can promote learning and retaining information from textbooks or lectures.
•Using flashcards or notecards to organize heading and subheadings and content related to particular sections can help learners see and memorize details.
•Cornell system is also an effective way which includes a vertical line drawn 3 inches from the left side margin of paper and then place questions in the left of the line and answer towards the right.
It uses interactive visual imaginary strategies that employ mental images or actual pictures. The more relatable the image, the easier it is to recall information.
For example: To remember a name like Paul Horsley, visualize a horse sitting with Paul eating lays.
New information is recalled in association with something that is already known.
For example: To set a proper table, the fork should be placed to the left and the knife, spoon to the right. Remember this by grouping the fork and left together as they have 4 letters and spoon, knife with the right as they all got 5 letters.
It helps you to remember spellings that are quite confusing.
For example, A principal at a school is your pal and a principle you follow is a rule.
It works by linking pictures with objects whose name sounds similar to an item that needs to be memorized.
For example, The method of loci- In this method, you need to choose a familiar place like a room or car or a specific street and then mentally place items that you need to remember around the location which will help to recall information by simply visiting the location again like walking in your room.
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● Mnemonics are very customizable and can be altered to get along with a variety of content.
● It enhances the power to memorize complex stuff and also increases the retention capacity of the information.
● It also increases the amount of content or information that a learner can retain and recall.
● Mnemonic strategies are very helpful for students with learning disabilities.
● With practice, it can also enrich the capacity of long-term memory.
● Mnemonics could be a great instructional strategy to teach students new vocabulary. These techniques help students include adults to remember factual information 2 to 3 times more effectively.
With the following steps students can create mnemonics with very limited efforts:
Gathering all the information relevant to the particular concept that needs to be memorized, is the first step towards achieving your goal. Related details can also help make associations when you are trying to make your own mnemonics.
Given below are few techniques that could help-
(a) Keyword technique
•It is a method to create a particular keyword for complex words in association with other available content.
For example: Considering Barrister, another word for a lawyer can be remembered by creating a keyword 'bear' for barrister and associating it with h lawyer through a scene where a bear is behaving like a lawyer.
(b) Pegword method
•Pegwords are easy to remember rhyming words for numbers or orders. Whenever you want to remember a list of items, you need to find a visual image to associate each item with the corresponding “peg” object. They are used in place of numbers linking it with other information. In brief, this method relies on knowing rhyming words that associate numbers with "peg” objects.
For example, Bun - Pegword for one
Shoe - pegword for two
Tree - pegword for three
(c) Letter method ( acronym)
•Using acronyms to remember lists of examples is an effective way. Taking the first letter from words you need to remember and making a new word or a phrase out of it is very convenient.
For example, SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timely
Remember SMART while writing essays for any project.
Memorize and practice
•It is always better to put your memory into practice so that it becomes more self-regulating. This will allow you to remember information subconsciously with the least effort.
● Mnemonics don't always come with understanding. You will only remember the words you made mnemonics for which doesn't ensure understanding
● Full dependency on mnemonics can confuse you as it lacks context.
● Sometimes forming new mnemonics can take more time than it would have taken to remember the actual content.
● Without practice and implementation, mnemonics are just for the short term.
Mnemonics, in general, can be used anywhere anytime you want to memorize information. Following are some examples
- Helps in remembering birthday dates.
- During meetings and parties, mnemonics helped to remember names and random minute details.
- They help in dealing with the last-minute preparations for presentations or exams and ensure that information stays in the memory.
- Memorizing the shopping list without having to go through the pain of writing things down.
Mnemonic devices are systematic methods to enhance memory. My research shows that these devices are very effective for students with learning disabilities, emotional disturbance, etc. Finding ways to relate new information with the already known information is fundamental in developing mnemonic devices. If practiced properly, the information can be remembered for a very long time. Mnemonics could be a great instructional strategy to teach students new vocabulary. These techniques help students include adults to remember factual information 2 to 3 times more effectively. Moreover, learners enjoy them more compared to the traditional ways.
Mnemonic devices should not be considered as an overall teaching method. It should be taught to students to make them remember things that are hard to remember. Ultimately, mnemonic devices are not the “universal cure” for students but they can be very effective if included along with other learning approaches.