Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Katie Couric: Learning Languages by Word Association

A recent article, in which the writer claimed to have learned the Spanish language in a weekend (!), was advocating the word association or ‘Linkword Method,’ a technique supposedly invented by one Dr. Michael M. Gruneberg.

This method is based on the principle that the human mind much more easily remembers data attached to spatial, personal, or otherwise meaningful information than that occurring in meaningless sequences or basic repetition.

For example, the Russian word for "juice" is "sok." Picture yourself, it instructs, drinking juice out of a sock. Hold the mini scenario in your mind's eye for 10 seconds. Et voilà – the word is allegedly locked into your mind.

It seems that this is the way some professional newsreaders remember foreign names. Katie Couric, the anchor for America’s CBS News, dryly has told people that she remembers how to pronounce the name of the Iranian President (Mahmoud Ahmadinejad) with the mnemonic, “I’m a dinner jacket.”

For more information on the LinkWord Language Method see:
Amelia Thomas, ‘Hooked on Mnemonics: A New Way to Conquer Foreign Languages’, CSM, 18 September, 2007.

Image: Katie Couric.