Rhythm and Memory

Recently I’ve been experimenting with using rhymes to memorise vocabulary. To learn things like days of the weeks, months, numbers, etc, I find that repeating them rhythmically, usually in twos or threes is quite a effective way to memorise them. I also try to make up little rhymes and stories using the words to put them in context. As I say the words, I also visualise what they represent and label my mental pictures with the words.

When learning the words of songs, I learn the words in conjunction with the tune. As a result, the words and tune become strongly linked in my mind and I find that I can’t speak the words on their own easily.

Do you similar methods to learn vocabulary?

This entry was posted in Language, Language learning, Memory.

18 Responses to Rhythm and Memory

  1. Harris Engelmann says:

    I don’t really use rhymes, but a lot of times I’ll translate songs (or books, or conversations) into Yiddish in my head- It helps a lot with remembering vocabulary.

  2. Chibi says:

    In German School in 4th grade, my teacher taught us a song to remember the names of the months. Unfortunately, I don’t remember much of it. It was something like:

    Januar, Februar, März, April
    Die Jahresuhr steht niemals still. (repeat)

    Mai, Juni, Juli, August
    weckt in uns alle die Lebenslust (repeat)

    September, Oktober, November, Dezember

    And I don’t remember the rest. And there was a tune, too.

  3. David says:

    In Japanese, my teacher has taught my class a rhyming song to remmeber ‘te’ form and which group to use them in.

    We also learnt another song to learn greeting and words to do with school.

    When I find them in my workbooks I will post them here!

  4. David says:

    て Form Song (In the tune of “Found A Peanut”)

    い ち り——–> って

    み に び——–> んで

        き——–> いて

        ぎ——–> いで

    します——–> して

    きます——–> きて

    いきます——–> いって

  5. David says:

    This song is also to do with て Form and has to do with asking people to do something.

    1st Verse:

    どうぞはいって Please come in

    ドアをしめて Shut the door

    たってすわって Stand up, sit down

    きいてください Listen (please)

    2nd Verse:

    ノートをひらいて Open notebooks

    こくばんをみて Look at the blackboard

    よんではいて Read and Write

    おぼえてください (Please) Remember

  6. Josh says:

    What is the “found a peanut” song?

  7. Ben L. says:

    From German, to the tune of the “Blue Danube” waltz, sing the prepositions taking the dative case:

    Aus, ausser, bei, mit,
    Nach, seit, von zu.

    Mnemonics are fun, too. Does anybody know FUDGEBO?

  8. I also used rhythm to learn French. I didn’t us poems but I would listen to tapes, cd’s or dvd’s of people speaking and then would try and imitate their rhythm and cadence.

  9. Polly says:

    @Ben L.
    OK, I have to ask. What is



  10. Nikki says:

    Similar to Ben L’s, I’ve heard of: aus bei mit nach, seit von zu, all take the dative, gegenüber too!

  11. Ben L. says:

    Polly- I had to look this up. These are German prepositions that take only the accusative:


  12. Polly says:

    @Ben L.

    Oh. I never heard of these methods when learning German. It was just pure memorization. Naturlich, ich hab’ vergessen allen.

    This wouldn’t work too well in Russian, I imagine; too many prepositions have dual purpose using two different cases.

  13. Chibi says:

    There are a lot of those in German, too.

  14. Polly says:

    True, judging by the overlap in Nikki’s and Ben L.’s lists for dative and accusative.

  15. I am a musician as well as a language lover, and I write songs in languages that I am learning. I use vocabulary from lessons that I have difficulty with as a starting point for finding a theme. From there, once I have composed a song, I get a native speaker (usually over the web) to make sure that my lyrics are OK from their point of view. Then I write a tune, start singing and – once I have the song down – I never forget the vocabulary.

    I suggest the same for anyone who plays music.

  16. Samuel says:

    I learned the song called Jahresuhr back when I was a youngster at Rammstein. It goes….

    Januar, Februar, März, April,
    die Jahresuhr steht niemals still.

    Januar, Februar, März, April,
    weckt in uns allen die Lebenslust.

  17. Samuel says:

    and then…

    Mai, Juni, Juli, August,
    und dann, und dann,
    fängt gas Ganze schon wieder von vorne an.

    Januar, Februar, März, April,
    die Jahresuhr steht niemals still.

    Mai, Juni, Juli, August,
    weckt in uns allen die Lebenslust.

    September, Oktober, November, Dezember,
    und dann, und dann
    fängt gas Ganze schon wieder von vorne an.

  18. Lyydie says:

    I find that it is much easier to memorize using rhythm of a sort. That is how I memorize texts in different languages that I know not one word of.

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