What is Mnemonics?

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To help us remember key pieces of information for an exam, or just general life, Mnemonics are a particularly useful technique. The word itself originates from the Greek word that refers to the mind, mnemonikós. Mnemonics appear in many different forms, but their primary intention remains the same: to help us retain information in a way that is less boring than most other revision methods.

They come in an array of formats, but rhyming is one of the most popular ways of using a mnemonic. Simple rhymes have been scientifically proven to be memorable because they have a rhythm and a beat, so it's usually easier to remember them than a written paragraph or statement. A common example of a rhyme used in lower grade classes to educate students on the correct spelling of words such as 'friend' and 'ceiling' is 'I before E, except after C, but weird is just weird'.

These easy to follow rhyming phrases are fun to learn, which is why they cement themselves in our memories - especially when used with younger pupils, who love to sing songs when learning. Another widely-used mnemonic approach is acronyms in list order. These are used when a sequence needs to be remembered from start to finish, with the sentence 'Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain' (for the colors of the rainbow) acting as a good illustration of how this technique can be best applied.

Don't forget, though: acronyms can be used in other ways than just list order. To help students in learning to spell important words such as 'because', we can foster a similar tactic by making a memorable statement (it doesn't have to be true) out of words beginning with each letter. 'Big Elephants Can Always Understand Small Elephants' is a particularly useful one for 'because', but encouraging students to make their own can make the task more enjoyable and effective.

As touched upon above, getting students involved in creating their own Mnemonics has an even better effect than normally. If they feel like they have an instrumental part to play, it is only natural that they will remember the information for longer; after all, children love to get stuck into practical activities that they find even mildly entertaining.

Whatever type of mnemonic you choose to use, try to make it fit one of the following criteria: personal, humorous, surprising or sexual. Because of the way that the human brain and its cognitions work, it is for some reason easier to remember and later, recall, information that relates to these topics. This is probably because they are meaningful to us as homosapiens.

So there you have it: a brief guide to Mnemonics. Other examples include: 'Only Cats' Eyes Are Narrow' for spelling Ocean; 'My Very Easy Method Just Sets Up Nine Planets' for the order of the planets in space; and 'Never Eat Shredded Wheat' for the points on a compass. If there's something you need to remember, or want your class to retain, try making a fun, memorable mnemonic today - and reap the rewards straight away!