12 July, 2016

Russian Recall and Power Sentences: Part III

Part Three, or el finale. Lets do this.

Memorization is a lot like green eggs and ham, from the Dr. Seuss 424ed7478015dc7e7e486849464c520a.400x537x1classic. You’ve heard its boring, its never-ending, and its ineffective. Here’s to hoping my last three posts have convinced you to try it at least(:

So in my last post (Russian Recall and Power Sentences: Part II, check it out) I covered Power Sentences (made-by-you sentences packed with Russian grammatical rules, vocab words, cases and anything else that you NEED or WANT to learn) and how you can formulate your own. Those are the phrases you memorize that will give you the most out of your memorization practice. In this post, I wanted to go highlight how to memorize those power sentences MOST effectively by returning to my first point. It is as follows:

  1. Make the memorization process as stimulating as possible. Engage multiple senses. Change up the routine often and frequently to keep it interesting.

So………. what does that mean???

While everybody primarily fits into four categories of learning styles (visual, auditory, reading/writing and kinesthetic learners), in the process of “teaching” yourself using only dictionaries, grammar books and first hand experience, you want to have a complete grasp on every principle you study. Engaging ALL or as many senses as possible will give you the greatest rate of success. You might know that you are a reading/writing learner, or you might learn best from hearing things over and over. Focus on your primary learning style, but include other senses back to back or sometimes simultaneously to enhance your retention. This could include writing down sentences after repeating them out loud, role-playing scenarios where you can use these memorized phrases, making flash cards of specific pieces of the sentence, or a number of other things. Whatever you do, constantly be repeating these sentences, but always in different ways.

From my experience, I’m a kinesthetic learner: I memorize best when I have motions or actions involved in the learning process. I remember all through my time in Russia, even in the beginning, pacing in my St. Petersburg apartment while holding my open dictionary or notebook, repeating out loud phrases and power sentences. If I remember right, I would also wave my free hand around while walking and talking to get more movement out of it (so for you kinesthetic learners out there, it’s ok if you look a little strange(: ) Whether it was readiness or leg exhaustion that got me sitting down, I’d then plant myself down afterwards and write out the sentences verbatim. (Having a nice smooth pen for this is ESSENTIAL). I still have notebooks of the same sentences written out over four pages. Speaking the sentences as I wrote them further enhanced my engagement with the words and phrases.

The biggest thing with memorization is you don’t let it be as boring as it’s made out to be. It can be painful and horrible, or it can be really productive and mind-stretching.

And if you’re thinking: “This is ridiculous, there’s no way this will work, memorization is a waste of my time”, I return to what I said at the beginning, with a quote from the Dr. Seuss favorite:

You do not like it.

So you say.

Try it! Try it!

And you may.

Try it and you may I say.

Here’s to hoping you come to love memorization like I do(:

Mark Kennedy, currently studying Russian at Liden & Denz Riga

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Posted by Mark Kennedy

Всем Привет! My name is Mark Kennedy, and I’m currently studying Russian at the Liden and Denz Language Center in Riga, Latvia! To say I’m excited to be here is a severe understatement. Currently I'm going into my fourth year at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, where I'm enrolled as a dual-degree candidate, earning two degrees in Russian Language and Literature, and French Horn Performance. I started my study of Russian during a two-year mission for my church in St. Petersburg, Russia. Probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever done! My language learning started off as kind of a trial by fire: with only 12 weeks of training beforehand, I was thrown into Russia and expected (to attempt, at least) to hold full on conversations with people. In the beginning it wasn’t pretty, but the sink or swim mentality of it all forced me to work hard from the start, and motivated me to really overcome any issues I had quickly. Combined with a personally guided plan of language study and some study materials, I came to love the language and the Russian people a TON! Two years later and I’m still studying it… Outside of Russian language, my French Horn degree keeps me busy. Favorite composer is probably Richard Strauss, and my favorite symphonic work is The Rite of Spring Suite by Stravinsky. (Debussy Piano pieces are my favorite non-symphonic works). I’m also into basically anything arts related: singing, dancing, listening to Maroon 5, drawing Sharpie art, going to art exhibits, going to orchestra concerts, etc. In terms of sports, I was a collegiate rower for the University of Michigan in 2011-2012, when we won the National Champions Team Trophy, and I play Ultimate Frisbee. I’m excited for this opportunity to write for Liden & Denz, and to share my enthusiasm and excitement about Riga and the Russian language!

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