In many ways having memory means we actually exist. If we didn’t have memory, it would be impossible to know who we are, our names, familiar places, what we like or dislike and everything to do with our relationship with our inner as well as the outside world. We would always be living in present time. Having memory, therefore has innumerable benefits. Apart from recognising ourselves and others, memory is essential for learning. It would be very difficult to work and study without remembering what we are doing or studying.
In ancient Greek and Roman times, memory was greatly valued. The word originates from the Greek goddess of memory, Mnemosyne. In the Roman Senate, speakers weren’t allowed to use notes so they had to perfect ways of improving their memories. They thought that there were two main principles underlying conscious memory: imagination and association. One associates the thing you want to remember with something fixed, and then one uses one’s imagination to make the picture as clear as possible. The Romans associated their ideas with fixed points around the room they were talking in and then referred to them.
As is well-known, we have short and long–term memories. However, what do we tend to remember? Basically, information necessary for our survival, what we consider meaningful, what we practise, what we link to things we already know and what we give attention to. Most of us have difficulty with long–term memory. To enable information to pass into it, we consider emotional impact, repetition and urgent need. What can you do to memorise things better so that they stay for longer periods? Try using these:
Imagination: make mental pictures.
Exaggeration: Make things bigger, louder, etc.
Humour: make things funny.
Association: Find links with as many other things as you can.
Colour: Colour-code items and ideas.
Sensuality: Involve all the senses.
Movement: Connect items to movement, gesture and expression.
Order and Sequence: Order and sequence items into categories.
And don’t forget that you will be able to remember more if you take frequent breaks every 15-25 minutes as well as having a longer rest after 2 hours or so. Very long periods of study are totally useless because the brain is unable to function properly and you will never remember all you have read unless you take the necessary breaks that the brain needs to ‘recharge’ itself. Most people waste enormous amounts of time trying to memorise facts for exams, etc. and then are surprised when they can’t remember them on the day of the exam. Discover when your brain works the most efficiently, the time of day and so on and take those rest periods. This is the ‘secret’ to doing well in your next exam.
Happy English learning!!