Unlocking the Usefulness of Visual Mnemonic Devices

When it comes to the use of mnemonic devices, word formation and phrase formation styles always get all of the credit for helping people remember all types of information.

However, there is one often overlooked style of mnemonic device that many people use each and every day whether they think about it or not.

Known as the visual mnemonic device, this type of memorization technique allows a person to associate words that they have to memorize with various pictures or images in their mind about what they need to remember.

Despite the fact that visual mnemonic devices are used each and every day by people around the world, they are the most difficult type of mnemonic device to create, and oftentimes you will simply find it easier to stick with word forming or phrase forming types of mnemonics.

Even if you are not familiar with the term visual mnemonic device, I can guarantee that you have used one at least once in your life. Do you remember the first time that you ever had to use a screwdriver to tighten a screw or a wrench to loosen a nut or bolt?

Chances are that the person who taught you how to do the task told you something that people have been passing on for generations: righty tighty, lefty loosey.

This cute and simple little rhyme has helped people from all walks of life instantly remember which way you need to turn a bolt or screw to tighten it and which way you need to turn to loosen it, making a job that you would have otherwise had to think about for a few seconds into second nature.

If you have noticed something about the example given above, it is that a visual mnemonic device innately differs from a word forming or phrase forming style mnemonic.

To begin with, the visual mnemonic device does not take advantage of having anything to do with the first letters of any words that you may have to memorize or the formation of any words or phrases using those first letters. Instead, you are given a little rhyme or some other slogan which is amazingly easy to remember and recall.

In fact, unlike other types of mnemonic devices that are usually only useful for a relatively short amount of time, you can store a visual mnemonic in your brain for years and years without ever forgetting it because you paint a picture in your mind of what you are supposed to remember.

Combining Mnemonic Devices for Even More Effectiveness

Our final example on how to use mnemonic devices effectively comes to us from the field of trigonometry. Yes, the math course that has baffled high school and college students for centuries is where we will conclude our examples on how to take advantage of the basic characteristics of mnemonics.

You see, even though there are generally accepted rules on when and where you should use mnemonics in order to remember things, there are times when you will have to combine one or two different techniques if you want to solidify your memorization of certain facts or lists of information.

When it comes to the subject of trigonometry, even though there are plenty of different rules and formulas that you may have to know, there is one necessary tidbit of information that is paramount to all else in determining your success in the course. That piece of information deals with the three basic trigonometric functions of sine, cosine, and tangent.

Even though you may not be familiar with these functions, you can still participate in our little exercise to see what types of mnemonic devices you come up with.

Now, the rules for sine, cosine, and tangent are as follows. Remember that are do not need to memorize what each function does. Instead, all you have to do is create a word based mnemonic device for what you see below:

Sine is equal to the Opposite leg divided by the Hypotenuse
Cosine is equal to the Adjacent leg divided by the Hypotenuse
Tangent is equal to the Opposite leg divided by the Adjacent leg

Keeping that information in mind, construct your own word based mnemonic device. Pretty difficult isn’t it? You have a lot of information there to deal with, and it can be a tough task to sort out the relevant information from the irrelevant information which you really do not need to know.

So, to break down the trigonometric functions into a word forming style mnemonic device, the first thing you should do is figure out the important information. Each line has three relevant parts to it which I have highlighted for you, so go from there to create your own word based mnemonic device.

Once you have finished, compare it to the generally accepted words: SOH CAH TOA.

At this point you are probably thinking, what in the world is SOH CAH TOA. To answer your question, it is the first part of a multipart mnemonic device. Some students in trigonometry class choose to simply remember the word forming style mnemonic device and end there, but for most people, it helps to go one step further and remember a phrase based mnemonic device instead because SOH CAH TOA is so abstract and foreign that it really does not make much sense.

How would you go about turning the first mnemonic into a secondary mnemonic? Think about it for awhile and come up with a phrase forming style mnemonic that you can be proud of.

Once you have figured out your own phrase style mnemonic, you have two ways of remembering the trigonometric functions. On one hand you can simply remember SOH CAH TOA, but if for some reason you forget it, you always have a phrase style mnemonic like: Similes Of Happiness Come After Having Tankards Of Ale, as a backup.

For highly important pieces of information which may be the crux of a college test or a business promotion, it is highly recommended that you try and come up with at least two different mnemonic devices so that you will always have a fail-safe should you forget one or the other.

After all, you can never be too careful when it comes to memorization techniques.

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