Memorizing a Foreign Language

Two Time USA Memory Champion and Memory Training Speaker and Memory Expert Ron White shares his method on how to memorize words in a foreign language:

A lot of people want to learn foreign languages but don’t know where to start.  They will get on the treadmill and put on the foreign language tapes.  Now this is better than nothing, but let’s remind ourselves that our minds work like a computer and we can use this to our benefit when we want to recall something.

Here are some words that you don’t see often:

Sire
Nosh
Morangu
Pesagu
Bosa
Jontar
Pie
Puegas
Payne
Pastage

These are 10 words that are definitely not English.  However, using the concept that our minds use the code of pictures to recall, we can very easily file these away as we use memory training to learn how to memorize them.  We are not going to actually stick these pictures on any of our organized file lists.  Instead, we are going to file these pictures to their definitions.  Follow along and you’ll see what I mean.

The first word is sire.  This is the Portuguese word for a woman’s skirt.  Visualize a woman’s skirt sighing.  It is a sire (sigh-er). You’ll never forget that.  The word is sire and the definition is a woman’s skirt.

The next word is the Portuguese word, nosh, meaning walnut.  Visualize yourself eating a giant walnut and it makes you nauseous.

The next word is morangu and it means strawberry in Portuguese.  See a gigantic strawberry eating a meringue pie.

Now we have pesagu.  This is Portuguese for peach.  See a giant peach asking you to pass the goo.  That’s right.  A giant peach asking you to, ‘Pass the goo.’

Next is bosa, and it’s Portuguese for a woman’s purse.  See a large piece of balsa wood carrying a woman’s purse.  You look out your window and you see a large piece of balsa wood carrying a woman’s purse, that would be a picture that sticks in your mind.

The next word is jontar and it is Portuguese for dinner.  Now, file a man named John and he is eating tar for dinner.  A man named John and he is eating tar for dinner.

The next word is pie and it is Portuguese for father.  See yourself throwing a pie in your father’s face.  Hit your father in the face with a pie.

The next word is puegas and it is Portuguese for socks.  Visualize some socks that have a really bad odor and you say, “Piew, that smells like gas!”

The next word is pan, and it is French for bread.  See a pan and the handle is made of bread.

The final word is pastake.  Pastake, and it is French for watermelon.  See a watermelon passing a deck of cards to you.

Now, as you can see, learning a foreign language is very simple and you can learn how to improve your memory.  You must turn it into a picture and then file it to its definition.  Any word can be turned into a picture or something can be substituted for it.  You have just learned a little bit of French and Portuguese!  Can you believe that?  It was pretty painless, wasn’t it?

Let’s see how many definitions that you can recall now. Fill in the blanks below with the defintitions:

  1. Saia                       
  2. Noz                       
  3. Morangoo           
  4. Passego           
  5. Bolsa                       
  6. Jantar                       
  7. Pai                       
  8. Peugas                       
  9. Pain                       
  10. Pasteque           

So, how did you do?  Did you get all of them?  If you didn’t, ask yourself why.  Was your picture vivid enough?  The code your mind thinks in is pictures and you must make the pictures very strong in order for this memory training to work.

Now, I want you to understand that this concept we just learned for foreign language can also be used for English words.  Have you ever learned words that are new to you?  Sure you have.  Even in English, I would dare say there are many words that in some fashion or form are foreign to you.

Use the same concept that we used for foreign languages.  For example, take the word neophyte.  It’s an English word.  It means beginner.  What if you saw a boxing match or a fight and the boxers were on their knees.  They would be a knee fight, wouldn’t it?  So, we turn the word into a picture and the word is beginner.  So, we have the audience as a bunch of bees and they’re drinking gin.  It’s a knee fight with bees drinking gin.  That is a picture that you wouldn’t forget even if you tried.  Make it a goal of yours to learn a foreign language or expand upon the one you already know.  Purchase an audio program or a book and learn a few words a day or a week with this method.  At the end of the year, I think you’ll be impressed with your vocabulary if you just work to use memory training to learn how to improve your memory.

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One Response to “Memorizing a Foreign Language”

  1. Frank says:

    Ron,

    Great article! We use a very similar approach to memorization training and empowerment. I have applied this methodology to Chinese and…it works with character written languages too. It can even be used to help one remember how to write the character. At the very least when one sees the character again they will remember the pronunciation as well as the definition.

    We really enjoyed your seminar and meeting you in Del Mar, CA. Enjoy your upcoming YPO engagements.

    Fair winds and following seas,
    Frank, Cathy and Michael

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