Words don’t come easy to me

This week I’ve started studying for a Java Certification exam. I’m working with two excellent books which I would warmly recommend to anyone:

I’ve come back to the same exercise that discouraged me last time with a real determination to crack the problem.  The excercise being to learn the java language kewords and to be able to distinguish them from other similar words or terms used in other languages.

Learning a list of 52 words should be easy – especially as I’ve used almost all of them on a daily basis for the last 10 years or so. I just have a mental block about learning lists.

Reading around the subject of learning lists I came across a few techniques I’ve looked at in isolation before which I’m planning on giving another go. The examples all have nice lists of nouns to learn so finding pegs for some of the more abstract words could prove an interesting challenge.

  • add mental pictures, sounds, smells and tastes to each word to make it more vivid
  • combine words into bizarre images
  • find groupings and sets to break the list down
  • imagining the list as a familiar journey and placing the words at different points along it (method of loci)
  • using numeric pegwords (one=bun two=shoe …) to fix each word image to
  • practice and training, learn poetry summarise articles anything to give those frontal lobes working

Each one has lots of people saying how easy a system it is and how well it works. I’m cautious however that any one technique  holds the answer for everyone.  Last time round I focused on the last one. It was the one which worked well for my better half but I found it particularly tough going. Her success in memorising the list in 10 mins flat with no Java experience was demoralising.

Looking back that may have more to do with her having a strong well trained visual memory anyway. She is the sort of person who can recite whole screeds of poetry, lists of British kings and queens, dates of key events, peoples telephone numbers, and passages from books she has read.

This time I’m going to try combining the different techniques and see how far I can get myself.


East Lothian dad. Likes bad jokes and comic songs. Mostly tired, tries to stay cheerful. Thinks space is awesome. Would like to write more code and better docs.

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