Join Paul Nowak for an in-depth discussion in this video Memorizing new vocabulary using the similar sound technique, part of Study Skills Fundamentals.
- In this video, we're going to discuss a technique that will help you remember the definition of words you aren't familiar with. It's called the Similar Sound Technique. And it builds on the principles we've been learning in this course. To show you how the similar sound technique works, let's start with an example. Let's take the word claustrophobia. Which is the fear of closed spaces, especially very narrow or crowded spaces. You could use the similar sound technique to remember what this word means. Here's how it would work. You start by looking for a similar sound within the word that you are already familiar with.
If you look at the word claustrophobia, you could take the initial Claus part, and associate it to Santa Claus. You then try to link the word Santa Claus, visually to the meaning, a fear of closed spaces. So we could imagine Santa Claus being afraid of tight chimney spaces. Why, because Santa's a big guy and he might get stuck. Later when asked to recall the meaning of the word, what is the first thing you would notice about the word claustrophobia? You would see the Claus part, and immediately that would remind you of Santa.
Which would then remind you that Santa was afraid of tight chimney spaces, linking back to the meaning of the word. A fear of tight, closed-in spaces. Now let's try this with a word you probably aren't familiar with, Belonephobia. This is the fear of sharp objects, like needles, knives, and even sharp pencils. To implement the technique, start by looking for a similar sound within this word. Since you probably already know that phobia means the fear of, focus on the initial part of the word. Belone, what does that sound like to you? Now it could sound like a number of things.
For example, be-low-nee, like bologna. Or be-lone, kind of sounds like balloon. It doesn't have to sound exactly the same as another word, it just has to have a similar sound. For the purpose of this example, let's go the balloon route. I want you to visualize a balloon in your mind. And now we need to link back to the meaning. The fear of sharp objects. I want you to imagine a needle coming towards the balloon, very slowly. And the balloon is afraid of being popped by the needle.
Now you really need to picture this, and also exaggerate the image. If you'll recall from an earlier lesson, we talked about how exaggeration helps us remember things. So imagine the balloon is freaking out that this needle is coming towards it, very, very slowly. The balloon is sweating, and shouting for help as the needle gets closer and closer to popping it. If you can visualize a scenario like this, what will happen later when you see the word belonephobia? You'll search for the similar sound and immediately come upon balloon. Then you'll remember the balloon was afraid of this needle that was coming towards it.
And of course at that point, you'll make the connection that, back to the fact that belonephobia is the fear of sharp objects, like needles. You see how this works? Let's try one more example with another word. Anthrophobia, this is the fear of people, believe it or not. It's an actual documented phobia. Now you could have picked that up through the prefix, anthro, as it relates to anthropology. But what if you didn't make that connection? What other similar sounds can you find within this word? How about the sound Ant? Now, we could be talking about ant, the insect, or aunt, the relative.
Regardless of the route you choose, we need to visualize something that will link us back to the core meaning, a fear of people. Let's go with the insect, an ant. I want you to imagine a whole village of ants, from their perspective, being afraid of people. Imagine the footsteps of people crashing down upon this village of ants, and the ants in a panic, running around trying to escape their fear of people. Later when you see the word anthrophobia, you'll be reminded of the ants and their fear of people. Linking you back to the meaning, a fear of people.
The similar sound technique can be applied to help you memorize the meaning of technical words you're not familiar with, but also to help you memorize words that are in a foreign language. The same idea would apply. If you had a word in Spanish you were trying to memorize search for a similar sound in that word, that sounds like something in English. Make sure it's something you can visualize. And then, try to link that to the meaning of the word in a way that's visual, and exaggerated. This technique takes advantage of the fact that humans are very good at remembering visual information and things that are out of the ordinary.
- Learning to read faster and more thoroughly
- Improving your note-taking skills
- Enhancing your memory
- Memorizing new words and formulas
- Scoring better on tests
- Creating study plans