Learning to Count to Ten in Spanish by Using Mnemonics

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Mnemonics are the most powerful way to learn a complicated body of information such as a foreign language. A mnemonic is a way of organising information as it goes into your mind to allow for more efficient recall. This is usually accomplished by making an association between the thing you want to remember, in this case Spanish vocabulary, and something you already know, such as the sound of an English word.

This article gives an example of mnemonics for learning the first ten numbers in Spanish. As you read the mnemonics, try to picture the visual image that each one describes. Focus on the element of the image that suggests the sound of the Spanish word that it links to.

one un/una
Uma Thurman sits at a desk as one of the students in a Spanish class. She is wearing an oversized foam hand with the index finger extended, the kind you see at baseball games.

two dos
There are two small explosions on the floor, and two small clouds of dust rise up. The dust forms two columns as it rises into the air.

three tres
A teacher comes into the classroom, balancing three trays on one arm.

four cuatro
There are a total of four cats on the three trays.

five cinco
On the wall behind the teacher and Uma Thurman, there are five kitchen sinks arranged in a stack.

six seis
The teacher picks up a book and starts reading from it. ‘Six, he says. He says six.’

seven siete
Eddie Murphy walks in wearing a shirt with a large number seven on it. ‘See Eddy’, the teacher says to Uma, pointing at him.

eight ocho
A schoolgirl starts playing hopscotch on the floor, but the numbers in the squares are all eights.

nine nueve
On one of the desks is a large object underneath a cover. Uma Thurman pulls the cover off to reveal an intricate sculpture of a large number nine. The teacher looks at it and says ‘It’s very new-wavey.’

ten diez
There is a collection of numbers on Uma Thurman’s desk. She asks the teacher is she wants any of them. The teacher picks a one and a zero and holds them up, saying ‘I’ll take dese ones.’

Go through this list of mnemonics a few times, vividly imagining every description, and after a while you won’t need to recall the mnemonics to remember the numbers: they will sink into your long-term memory and you will remember them for a very long time.


write by Dilys

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