Auditory Association to remember names and vocabulary
NOTE: Since this page is about using sounds to remember, the examples will probably sound like utter nonsense when translated into another language. Some will be impossible to translate. I recommend that, if you read it, you try reading it in English. The methods, however, should work in any language.
I learned this method when I was young. My grandmother had difficulty remembering a lot of new words when she came from New England to Florida. She loved her beautiful Hibiscus plants, similar to those in the picture, but she could never remember the name. She finally associated Hibiscus with “hot biscuits.” What was supposed to happen is that Grandma would look at a flower, think ‘hot biscuits” and remember that the flowers are Hibiscus flowers. Grandma never made it to the second step. She talked about her beautiful red and pink “hot biscuits”. And we understood.
We all smiled when she made this and many similar mistakes. But it could have been more embarrassing when she did this with people’s names. There was a nice woman, Mrs. Pough, at Grandma’s church. Grandma had never met anyone named Pough. (it rhymes with you.) So she associated it with a bad smell because when she smelled something bad, she always said Pyeou.But again, she couldn’t make the connection so Grandma often talked about that nice Mrs. Stinky. If Grandma ever called the woman by this name, I never heard about it. (And no, I am not making any of this up.)
One of the easiest ways to remember names and vocabulary is by using the sounds. For example we meet a woman named Amanda Blake. Blake rhymes with lake. We can both hear the rhyme and picture the scene. Mrs. Blake swims in the Lake wearing an old-fashioned bathing suit. The bathing suit makes the picture more memorable. And to remember her first name, she might be swimming with a man. Mrs. Blake and a man swim in the Lake.
My maiden name was Ruhnke. People looked at the word but had no idea how to pronounce it. I got into the habit of introducing my self this way. “Hi, I’m Judy Ruhnke: it rhymes with monkey.” Nobody had trouble pronouncing my name and, as a bonus , although many never learned to spell it, they never forgot me name. They probably looked at me and thought “monkey.”
Most auditory association methods also involve visual association. What if nothing rhymes with the name and you never heard the name before? Harry Lorayne has some amazing examples. He listens carefully for how the name is pronounced and thinks of images that sound similar (even if they don’t quite rhyme.)
Mr. Antesiewicz. Thank goodness I only have to say it, not spell it. It is pronounced “ante-sevage.” Lorayne thinks Anti-savage or perhaps Auntie save itch. This man doesn’t like savages. He is anti-savage. Suddenly the name is more meaningful … and easier to remember than Jones. Here is a list with a few of Lorayne’s suggestions. pp. 38-39
Mr. Cameron: camera on – perhaps the camera is around his neck. Perhaps it’s on his head.
Mr. Ponchatrane: punch a train – perhaps a train upset him and now he always punches them.
Mr. Tropeano: throw a piano – Wouldn’t it be grand if Mr Tropeano was a music teacher?
Mr. Carruthers: car udders – I’d suggest that he doesn’t have a car. He rides car-others.
Mrs.Rafferty: raps for tea – She could also sit on a raft in a giant cup of tea.
Mrs. Pukczyva (puck-shiva) a hockey puck shivering
Mr. Papadopoulos: Papa topple us
Mrsl Dimitriades – the meat tree ate us
Using Auditory Association to learn vocabulary
My son had a hard time learning new vocabulary words in high school, especially when he had never heard the word before. We worked together to create associations. The only one I remember was the word, “Stentorian”, meaning “speaking in a loud voice. We started with Sten? Stem didn’t associate. The closest we could get was stand. Torian? That was better. We pictured a “Tory in the Inn”. We ended with a “Standing Tory in the Inn.” The Tory was standing to make a speech, speaking in a loud voice.
I recently used this method to remember the name of one of my favorite flowers, crocosmia. Because I hadn’t used the word in several years, I couldn’t recall the name. I asked my husband several times but kept forgetting. So I worked on it. Cro-cos-mi-a Crow – caws (at) me. I picture a flock (a murder) of crows standing among the beautiful orange and red flowers of crocosmia. I used the sounds of the word (auditory association) along with an interesting visual image (visual association.)
Perhaps you need to associate countries and their capitol cities. What about Tegucigalpa, Honduras. I had trouble with this at one time. Can you imagine the large hounds (Honduras) The goose (seeing the hounds) he is galloping. (The goose he gallopa) Again, they are related by sound and picture. It is important to remember to connect them to the actual words. My fifth grade teacher wouldn’t have given me credit for the capital of Honduras as “the goose he gallopa” but I think she’d have had a good laugh.
Lorrayne suggests using this method for vocabulary in another language. I tried it for the word pajaro (Spanish for bird). Pa could be father. Ja in Spanish is pronounced “ha”. So Pa can be “Hairy Oh! If if stop here, I won’t know what it means. So Pa is Hairy Oh! He’s so hairy there is a bird nesting in his hair. Pa is Hairy. Oh! With a pajaro nesting in his hair. I could remember that.
I wish I’d know this method when I was young. I began memorizing vocabulary for the SAT in seventh grade — yes, I was a little strange — but I did really well on the SAT and got a great scholarship as a result. It would have been much easier to remember thousands of words if I had used this method. It might have taken longer but I would have remembered them longer.
There are four kinds relational memory: Visual Association and this page, Auditory Association.