How to STORE OUR VOCAB… and How to LEARN IT (part 2)


learn Italian vocabWe attend our Italian class and we learn (or we think we have learnt) a great deal of new vocab and use of prepositions… the week after, when we want to say that word or we want to say that sentence again… but which is the right preposition… comincia a piovere/comincia di piovere/comincia piovere… sugar, WHERE DID I WRITE IT? A frantic word hunt in our copybook has started, it should be there… the conversation goes on and we’d better stop looking for that word.


Italian words
La rubrica/address book

We can get a special and cheap copy book… I found out it is called an ‘address book’. You write the new words under the appropriate letter and remember to write a sentence to define the connotation and the register of this word (the other words it goes with and when we use it). Per esempio: C Il cenone di Natale era molto buono, il cenone di Capodanno, un bel cenone, un buon cenone. Prepositions can also be stored more effectively than in a normal copy book. We could write under i ‘in’ and several examples with the rule (if there is one). Per esempio, in nave, in aereo, in macchina (in+mezzi di trasporto). In Calabria, in Sicilia, in Sardegna (in+regione), in banca prendo i soldi, in negozio compro, in chiesa prego. Usually, writing sentences helps us remember more. We’d be better not to use translation as we don’t want to pass through English and we want to think in Italian as much as we can (and we’ll be fluent only when we stop thinking in our mother tongue and translating into the target language). Therefore, instead of using English to translate our new words in our address book… let’s use images. Here is an extract of Doctor David V. Martin (2006) from his lecture on Psychology of Human Behaviour on imagery as a mnemonic device:

”Probably because as our ancestors evolved, they had to remember scenes long before having to remember words, we are naturally better at remembering images than such abstract concepts as words… If you have ever had someone show you hundreds of pictures of a vacation and one picture was accidentally repeated, you may have discovered how good you are at remembering pictures… Those who teach memory systems recommend that the more bizarre the picture, the easier it is to remember, although there are mixed findings in laboratory research concerning the advantages of bizarreness”.

Learn Italian prepositions
In barca

Therefore, as images are a powerful evocative means and they help us remember better we could draw a small sketch beside our new word, preposition or sentence. Either a sketch that helps us remember the meaning or the sound or both. On top of that, the action of writing the new word, sentence or preposition, is one of the greatest ways to deepen the neural pattern in your memory (you remember part one, don’t you?) and make your learning permanent.

When you’re at a more advanced stage and you want to start pinpointing your mistakes, you could use an address book to register them with their corrections. You will see them quickly disappear in your writing and in your speaking.

Buono studio (as some of you guessed we use buono because studio starts with s+consonant and it is masculine) and keep practising… practice makes permanent.



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