Chinese Memory Triggers from The Third Ear

These are the Chinese Memory Triggers of the first words and phrases in Chinese that I have learned. When I hear a new word I automatically think of a Memory Trigger for it.

The most effective Memory Triggers are zany scenes that somehow connect to the thing being memorized. Remembering new foreign language words and phrases through goofy cartoony situations is extremely effective.

Of course you can then go on to learn these words in context, either by listening to them in a sentence, using them in conversation, going over them with your teacher, or with a speaker of your target language.

Our 200 Words a Day! courses incorporate sample sentences for each word, allowing you to learn the word in an excelerated learning way.

While reading Chris Lonsdale's book The Third Ear - You Can Learn Any Language You Want, I scribbled margin notes of the Chinese words and phrases that he used throughout the book.

Just try to visualize them in your mind's eye for good effect. Ideally we, at exceltra have found that a picture or cartoon works best, as it is much easier to recognize, less work is involved in dreaming up the visualization, and according ot scientific research '...the mind never forgets a picture...'

This is of course the whole basis of the 200 Words a Day system of language learning.

Believe me, it is much easier for us to make our software without pictures, but because these are much less effective we choose not to do it. Our goal is language learning excellence here.

But nevertheless here are some examples, without cartoons, of my margin scribblings.

Here are the Chinese language memory triggers

egg and noodles in Cantonese Chinese is daan meen

daan meen
Imagine a DARN MEAN chef gives you a DARN MEAN portion of egg and noodles.

I would embellish the Memory Trigger by making the main character of this visualization, or cartoon a famous character, celebrity or someone from the history books. This is because we better at remembering famous people, than abstract people.

So in this case if I make the chef DAN MENDOZA, who was a boxer, a famous prize-fighter in the 1700's, it makes it even more memorable, and adds another strong hook to the:

  • learning process
  • the remembering process, that is the process of getting it into your brain's storage areas.
  • the recall process, that is the process of getting it out of your brain's storage areas (memory).
The more vivid the image, the more detail that you can add, the better are all these three factors.

Add your own characters, famous or otherwise, to the Memory Triggers

If you can think of your own person that suits your own visualization, then use that one. In our courses you can add such a note on the word page where the Memory Trigger cartoon appears.

You may know someone called DAN and whose surname's initial begins with the letter 'M.'

Use him, and, if this was word taught in a 200 Words a Day! course you could add your own note to the page on which you are taught the word.

Some more Chinese Memory Triggers

don't have is mei you

Imagine a surly shop attendant says, "MAY YOU not have it! We DON'T HAVE it!"
The example in Chris's book is vivid enough, in which he refers to a warm, furry Russian style hat.

my necktie is Wo de ling dai

This sounds like WADDLING DIE.

Well a duck WADDLES, and a DIE is the singular of dice.

So I imagine a duck waddling along with a necktie on which is a large DIE. The tie and die would be tie-dyed in colour (this was a popular dying effect back in the 1970's when I was a kid) and they would be swinging in time with the duck's waddle.

How's it going? is ni hao

Well, how's it going? HOW's your KNEE HOW-ard?
Imagine you are addressing the famous HOW-ard Hughes.

crazy is chee seen

Imagine a mouse goes CRAZY at the CHEESE HE'S SEEN...
... in a CHEESE SCENE in a movie...
Literally he explains it means 'crossed wires'. You can add that to the Chinese language Memory Trigger, with sparking wires.

hello as a telephone greeting is wei

Imagine that you WEIGH the telephone when you answer it "hello!"

Now those are easy Chinese Memory Triggers.

not at all is nali

... not on your NALLY!

happy in Cantonese is hoi sum

Imagine a sailor on a sailing ship is happy as shouts, "Land AHOY! SOME fun at last!!
Literally it means 'open heart'.

I or me is wo

Oh WOE is ME!

you is ni

YOU sit on my KNEE!
and imagine there is the letter 'U' on your knee.

he, she or it is ta

he, she and it say, "TA! TA very much!"

to make these plural you add men

Men is a plural word anyway so there is an immediate connection.

We is therefore wo + men = women.
WE LOVE WOMEN.

You plural, you two, you all is ni + men = nimen.

They is ta + men = tamen.

to know is zhidao

Imagine that I know JUDO.

Basic Chinese verb structure- just blends in the various Chinese Memory Triggers

He then shows basic verb structure: I know = wo zhidao
you know = ni zhidao
s/he, it knows = ta zhidao
we know = women zhidao
you all know = nimen zhidao
they know = tamen zhidao

carry is dai

You carry a large DIE.

bring is dai lai

Imagine that you bring the DALAI Lama who is lying on a DIE that you carry. He is practising the art of DIE LIE.
Literally Chris explains it is 'carry come'.

take is dai qu

Sounds like 'dai chu'. Imagine that you take away a DIE and CHEW it too.
Literally Chris explains it is 'carry go'. So from one word we get three different Chinese Memory Triggers.

skill developed through practice is gong

Imagine that you develop the skill of banging a GONG.

cat is mao

Imagine Chairman MAO with a cat.

How's it going is zenme yang

How's it going? SEND ME YOUNG children to school please.

fine hao

HOW are you? FINE - HOW about you?

and you? ni ne

...and you is your KNEE NEAR-ly better?

So there it is...

my first lesson in Chinese

made easy to remember with these easy to remember Chinese Memory Triggers.

Zai jian - - goodbye

Goodbye... does SIGH JOHN sadly...

Check out the language learning book review of The Third Ear , the book from which I took the words, phrases and meanings for my Chinese memory triggers.


Chinese Memory Triggers from the Book Review of a Language Learning book - The Third Ear 200 Words a Day! Excelerated Language Learning Software
32 Alverton, Great Linford, Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, MK14 5EF, United Kingdom © 2007-2009.
Some random Chinese memory triggers.

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