learners may prefer a strategy that allows them to
see the printed word or images that trigger the memory of words. If you keep a "PC- diary",
you can use a program to color-code different kinds of words or
expressions and even include pictures from a PC program's image bank to
create vivid associations with some of the language you want to remember. For example:
to Pat's Page
example, one student who always remembered words as they looked
written on a blackboard made notes like this:
strokes for different folks
each his own
is the spice of life
chose to make color-coded notes for easily-confused idioms:
do the homework
a report (spoken) do
a report (written)
might also decide to match associated images with words:
to be tied up in red tape
to juggle many things at the same time
to take a snooze/nap
to have a safety net
to have a breakthrough
Each person has his or
her own style of learning and coding language. If you understand
your style of coding, you can use it as a tool to further your learning.
Neuroscientists tell us that any given human being's brain pattern for
processing language is unique. That unique brain pattern leads to a
unique way of expressing language. By putting that unique form of
expression to work for us, we can use it as a tool to help us learn more
language! One of the keys to successful independent learning is,
matter what activity you choose, remember to break it down into small
steps. Just start by writing a few words you want to remember in a vivid
way. Just reviewing and adding a little bit to your diary at regular
intervals can help. The key to a successful study strategy is to
stay with it.
the varieties of personal coding styles:
Variety of Visual Learning Experiences
are some quotes from some individuals who reflected on the way they recall words
and internally represent language to themselves. Below each
student's quote is a possible way to use that internal representation of
language as a tool to prmote futher study:
native language is Chinese. When I am trying to retrieve an elusive
Chinese word from memory, an image of a "screen" comes
into my mind. If I am successful at remembering the Chinese
character I am looking for, it appears on the "screen".
The problem is, this 'screen' doesn't work in English. I learned
English in a more 'auditory' way, like learning a song. I have
trouble spelling in English. I wish I could make the screen
work in English."
I try to remember an elusive word, I get an image of
"mist" in my mind. I have the sense of walking
through the mist and searching for the word. When I remember
the word, the mist clears."(the latter description was
represented in a painting by the student, below): Laura Glenn,
3) "When I
think of things I have to do, I 'see' them in my mind's eye, written
on list in what reminds me of a very formal notebook for
bookkeeping - a kind of "abstract" form of a ledger.
Everything on the list is written out very carefully. On the
other hand, when I think of less formal activities, like writing
letters to friends, I inwardly "see" these things on
casually torn fragments of paper ( like big pieces of confetti) with
a bit of information on each piece."
--Carmen Crosa.Spanish language teacher
4) "If I focus
on a word, I see it in my mind's eye written out in capital
letters. It's very large and occupies the entire frame of
"space" in my mind's eye...
Sometimes other concepts are
represented as abstract shapes.
A year, for example, has an abstract
shape - something like a comma with a flourish" :
Odile Kory, French language
5) "I think of
words spelled out in my mind's eye in their different letters.
If the word is short, I can see the whole thing written out.
If the word is long, however, I can only see the first few letters
of it. To be sure I'm spelling a long word correctly, I have
to write it down on a piece of paper. A long word overruns my
Gore, Fulbright Scholar, creative writing
6) "I think of
letters of the alphabet as having different colors. "A" is
orange, "B" is green, "C" is dark blue. The
color of the word is usually determined by the color of its first
letter. For example, the word ""boy" is green."
Duffy, English language teacher
person's unique way of coding language can be used as a tool to aid
memory. Match the styles of coding described above with the
"possible tools" for aiding memory described below (the
first match has been done for you):
1 - f
in the PC diary, represent hard-to-remember words in upper-case
letters in a large font; represent numbers and names of months in
target language within or next to the abstract shape representing a
year (or 'personal' abstract shapes representing other time words)
tool: in the PC diary, write hard-to-remember words in colors
matching the words' first letters
the image of the "abstract ledger" in the PC diary. Type
words that need to be remembered within this image. Write all formal
vocabulary in a formal ledger-like image on the PC-screen and
informal vocabulary (social, travel, etc.) against a
"confetti" image (like template # in Powerpoint)
hard-to-remember words within a simple sketch of the familiar
the PC diary, type the first three letters of the word in a larger
font than the others - as this match the internal image that is the
'natural trigger' for remembering the entire word
possible tool: represent the image of a screen in the PC-diary. Type
hard-to-remember words or "formula phrases" used in writing
letters, memos, or other written forms inside the "screen image"
as a memory trigger
learners may want to keep a PC-diary in auditory form by making a
recording of the words and phrases they want to remember. You may
want to do the recordings yourself or else download phrases or songs
containing words or expressions you'd like to remember from
Internet video and radio clips. Set aside a regular time to
review the sound clips already in your PC-diary and to download one
or two more.
language is French, and my second language is German. The word order
in German is different from that of French. In German, the verb is at the
end of the sentence. When I am constructing a sentence in German, I
inwardly feel myself "flying" with the verb to the end of the
kinetic learners like to have a sense of moving and manipulating
language - play the "scrambled word" game: write each word of a sentence
or expression you want to remember on a different index card.
First, scramble the cards; then, arrange the cards so the words are in the correct
learner recorded this in his PC-diary:
I'm trying to remember a word - and feel that it is 'right on the
tip of my tongue' - but I just can't recall it - I feel my shoulders
and arms tense up. When I remember the word, I relax."
discovered that when I tried to remember a word, if I deliberately
focused on my shoulders and arms, I could sometimes bring the word
to memory faster."
your plan into action
technology gives us the possibility to tailor our PC-diaries to fit
our own unique stored memories of language. As such, the
diaries can be helpful and unique creations.
may want to start just by writing a brief description (just a
sentence or two) about how you internally represent information
(visually, aurally, kinetically, etc.). You may want to make a
PC-diary using images from a computer program or from the Internet
to match what you experience internally. If you
would like to try this, launch MS-word. Then, save your
PC-diary entry on a disk. You might want to bring this disk with you
whenever you work at the Self-Study Centre.
take a learning style
develop a study strategy
|Do any of
the above descriptions remind you of your own way of internalizing
language? If so, which one? If not, how do you
internally represent language for yourself? If any
of the above descriptions sound strange to you, any of the above
descriptions sound unusual to you, keep in mind what Sir
Francis Galton, a renowned nineteenth-century British scientist said:
"The differences between [people] is profound, and we can only
save ourselves from living in blind unconsciousness of our own
mental peculiarities, by informing ourselves as well as we can, of
those of others." (Inquiries into the Human Faculty,
Put more positively, we could say,
there is much to be gained by better knowing the variety of ways we
represent language to ourselves - the diversity of "internal
landscapes" that human beings experience.
own description of how you code language in your PC-diary.
Then, reflect on how you might use your own personal code as a tool
exercises below may help you determine what type of learner you are:
your name. What comes into your mind? Do you inwardly
'see' your name written out in its letters? If so, are the
letters in script or in print? If they are in script, whose
handwriting is it? If they are in print, are they in capital
letters, standard print or another kind of print? What color
is the print?
the other hand, when you think of your may , inwardly 'see' an
image. What image do you see?
possible that you may inwardly 'hear' something when you think of
your name? Do you hear someone calling your name? If so,
whose voice do you hear?
also, inwardly feel something when you say your name. Some kinetic
learners report inwardly experiencing the motion of writing their
signature as they think of their name; others report a sense of
walking as if responding to someone calling their names. What
do you experience?
Share your PC-diary:
You may want to show your PC-diary to other students who are also
keeping one - it can be enlightening to see the very different ways
students conceive of language.
1) What kind of learner do you think you are?
visual? auditory? kinetic? Why do you think so? First write a
few sentences by reflecting on your learning style. If any of the
descriptions written above remind you of your own way of coding, you may
refer to them too.
2) Write a vocabulary item you would like to remember in
your PC diary. How might you represent this item so you could better
retain it? By writing it in color? By associating it with an
image? By associating it with an experience (using the term to
describhe something that really happened to you)? By having a
recording of it?
3) After you have written several vocabulary items you
would like to remember, think about how you would like to organize
them. Alphabetically? By subject category? By their
4) Prepare to share the beginning of your PC-diary with
the other members of the group next week. Explain why you have decided to
experiment with representing and categorizing the terms in your chosen
5) Next week you will add at least three more terms to
your PC-diary in your chosen method of coding. Share these terms
with the other members of the group, who may, in turn, want to code the
expressions in their chosen way. Compare your methods of coding with