One memory technique that can be used to improve short term memory is called Chunking.
This strategy takes a list, of numbers or items, and reduces the number by grouping things/numbers together. Grouping items/numbers together makes it easier to remember the list. Most people can store 4-7 items in their short term memory. Chunking improves accuracy and speed of memorizing items/numbers. In the U.S. we use chunking every time we dial the phone: 912-337-6182. Another example of chunking can be when trying to memorize a grocery list. Let’s say your significant other calls you to ask you to bring home a few things from the grocery store, but you don’t have a pen or paper. She/he asks for Grapes, Apples, Tomatoes and Eggs. By turning this list into an acronym, “gate”, it turns 4 things into 1 thing to memorize thus making it easier to remember the list.
When studying a foreign language, many of us use chunking to learn salutations. Usually, we learn “Good Morning” not “Morning” and “Good”. This is another variant on how to use chunking. There are many phrases that are better to learn by chunking such as “What’s up?” and “How are you?” Chunking doesn’t require you to understand grammar before you learn a phrase. Grammar will come later.
- Begin by gathering the vocabulary you want to learn. Take a look at your vocabulary list.
- Look for any relationships between the words that will create some chunks.
Suggested relationship types:
- Part of Speech
- The room it can be found in
- The layout of a grocery store
- The letter it starts with
Now quiz yourself, but remember which chunk (grouping) you placed the vocabulary.
The last step is to write out the vocabulary list using your chunks. This will help cement firmly your new vocabulary.
What do you got to lose? Give chunking a try and let me know how it works for you!