What are Mnemonic Devices?

When you think of a 'device', you probably think of something electronic. However, when referring to mnemonic devices, we are actually talking about any method that can be used to aid us in remembering something. There is a range of useful 'tricks' that both children and adults can foster when trying to memorize key pieces of information. In this article, we look at some of the most popular mnemonic devices that are used in education around the world today.

One of the most popular ways of memorizing a sequence of words or a list is by using an acronym. This means substituting each word in the sequence with the letter it begins with. From here, you can create a memorable sentence (mnemonic), that will enable you to remember the list when you need to.

To remember the colors of the rainbow, the sentence: Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain is often used. If you combine all of the letters from the beginning of each word, you get ROYGBIV, which stands for the colors of the rainbow (in order): Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet. When trying to create acronyms and mnemonics, try to make the sentence funny. By enjoying your learning, you are much more likely to store the information you come across for longer.

For visual learners (people who learn by seeing), imagery is a particularly useful mnemonic device. You can memorize a pair of words, or even a whole sentence by depicting them in picture form. To maximize the success of this method, make the drawings simple and immediately recognizable. This way, too much time is not wasted on elaborate drawings, and you can easily recall the collection of images as and when you need to - without becoming confused.

The Method of Loci is a Greek tactic used to help remember a collection of words or ideas, by associating them all with a different location. If you're trying to remember the ingredients you need for a cake, think of a place you know well, such as your bedroom. Apply each ingredient to a different object in your room, for example, flour - bed, sugar - desk, eggs - lamp, etc. When out shopping, imagine yourself in that room with a vivid mental picture. As you pass different places in the room, you will remember clearly the items that you require.

Yet another great way of storing information in your brain is by using rhymes; think about how much easier it is to learn a song than a written extract! Nut why is it so much simpler to remember things in this way? Basically, it comes down to something called acoustic encoding: a way of storing something based on the sound it makes when spoken aloud. One common example of how rhymes help us to memorize information would be, '30 days have September, April, June and November. All the rest have 31, except February'.

So, next time you come to learn a troublesome list or series of information, try out one of the above techniques. The beauty is, mnemonic devices making learning more fun but less laborious than usual! Two benefits in one!