Mnemonics, Memory and Me

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Everyone remembers the songs and rhymes of their childhood.  Those of us with children of our own in turn pass them on to our own kids.  Remembering the words and the rhymes seem as simple as breathing to many of us, to the point where few of us can actually recall ever having to learn them.
 
But learn them we did, and as we went into school and began education, we were introduced to new concepts and ideas often instilled in us through the same methods as the nursery rhyme before us.  Children's television is bursting at the seams with songs and lyrics that both entertain and help teach ideas.
 
The learning was made simpler by use of Mnemonics – techniques and strategies that help with the memorisation of information.  The human brain loves association – to take one idea and to connect it to another.  It could be a rhyme, a place or even a musical jingle that, when heard or recited, brings the idea back to the forefront of personal recall.  This is why so many adverts come with distinctive musical jingles and catchphrases, because it prompts memory of the product in peoples minds, which leads to familiarisation and a boost in product sales.
 
Fortunately, Mneomic Devices can be used to a learners advantage – indeed they are powerful tools for compressing information into a manageable, brain friendly format. For example, if asked to name the 17th letter of the Alphabet, a person might recall it with the aid of the ABC song: 
 
(The 17th letter is Q by the way!)
 
Another example is the use of acronyms – a word made up of all the first letters of a list of words.  Take for example the colours of the rainbow, taught to children for decades using the acronym name of Roy G. Biv representing the seven colours of the rainbow.  (Red, Orange, Yellow, Blue, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet respectively).  Or the traditional rhyme for remembering how many days are in a month –
 
Thirty Days Have September
April June and November
All the rest have Thirty One
Except February Alone
And that has 28 days clear
And 29 each Leap year
 
Acrostics are another popular method. They are similar in many ways to using acronyms, however instead of just using the first letter to form a new word you form a new sentence with the first letter for each word.   For example, a student looking to memorize the notes on the bass stave of a sheet of music might learn to recall the notes ACEG with the sentence:
 
All Cows Eat Grass
 
The learning of nearly anything can be enhanced by using Mneomic techniques.  Whether it’s historical dates, lists of ingredients, directions or rules, through the trick of association you can enhance your ability to recall and make the most of your study time.

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