Making Memorization Fun | Nurturing Wisdom Tutoring

Making Memorization Fun

“How did you memorize all those lines?”

Those of us who’ve done theater are well acquainted with that question. I graduated from a conservatory program where I studied Acting. Over the years, I’ve been in quite a few plays, all of which involved memorization – sometimes just a few lines, sometimes pages and pages of text.

I think we can all agree that memorization is not the most fun activity. But quite often, especially with vocabulary or basic math facts, it’s necessary. Here are a few tried & true tricks for taking the pain out of memorization, and injecting some fun into the process!

1. Give it a little rhythm. It may sound strange, but getting your inner Jay-Z on as you memorize words or definitions can really help. Chant the words as you tap out a rhythm on the table. You can even create a little melody, and sing them.

Get Creative: Take it a little farther by substituting the words of the catchiest pop song you know. Then, when you’re studying for your Latin grammar test, you can simply crank up the Katy Perry and belt out, “‘Cause baby you’re a genitive! You indicate possession!” That will be so stuck in your head, you’ll never forget the genitive again.

2. Boogie. That’s right, boogie! Okay, you don’t have to dance. But memorizing any information as you do a physical activity will lodge the information so deeply into your brain — into your whole body, in fact, that you’d be hard pressed to forget it.

Get Creative: Do a set of ten crunches. Every time you crunch, yell out “Jugar!” Every time you release, “To Play!” This helpful multi-tasking will simultaneously prepare you for your Spanish quiz, and your next sports game!

3. Say It Out Loud. This is an extremely helpful little trick. The more senses you can use to internalize information, the better. You’re using your eyes, as you read the information off the page, you’re using your ears, as you hear what the words sound like, and you’re using muscle memory, because you’re feeling what it’s like to form the words with your mouth.

Get Creative: If you’re like me and have no shame, say the words out loud in a British accent. The strangeness of the sounds will also help the information stick.

4. Take a trip. Studying in different locations has been proven to help information stay longer. Walk all over the house as you memorize.

Get Creative: Make a game of it: set the timer on your cell phone for two minutes. Every time it beeps, move to a new location. Your family may think you’re insane, but you’ll do great on that next quiz!

5. Build a Memory Palace. This trick is not for the faint-of-heart. Joshua Foer, a journalist, recently wrote an article in the New York Times about his recent foray into memory competitions. In it, he describes the way he builds an imaginary mansion in his mind, populates it with off-the-wall images and characters, which he then associates with specific nuggets of information to memorize. When it’s time to recall the information later, he simply takes a mental stroll through his own imaginary memory palace, and uses the crazy images he himself created to trigger his memory into pulling out the bits of information that he wants. An impressive feat.

Have any memory tricks you’d like to share? Let’s hear ’em!