Whether you need to learn another language for business or travel, want to help your children study a second language, or just want basic conversational skills in another language, this step reveals how it is possible to learn foreign words at a rapid pace.

The key is to create an image by finding a common link between the sound of a foreign word and its meaning in your own language. For example, bacon is Speck in German. To make a link, picture a slice of bacon with an unsavoury-looking speck on it.

To make this method even more effective we need a place to store these images for instant retrieval. In many languages, we will also need to know the gender of each noun. My Gender Zones method enables us to perform both these functions simultaneously.


Gender Zones

In languages with two genders such as Spanish or French, Gender Zones provide two discrete geographical regions in your mind where everything is either masculine or feminine. For example, any French word that is masculine I would place in my home county of Surrey, England. Any feminine word I would place in another county, Cornwall. Both regions must be familiar to you to make this method work. For example, by fixing my mind on a certain hospital in Surrey, I know that hospital in French is masculine, un hôpital. To remember that post office is a feminine word, la poste, I think of a specific post office in Cornwall. Once I remind myself of these places I will never confuse the gender of the two words.

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These Gender Zones also act as filing systems for storing your linked images. For example, the French for sea is mer, which sounds to me like “mayor”. I picture a mayor in full regalia swimming in the sea off the coast of Cornwall, and now I have performed two tasks in one image. I know that sea is mer, and feminine, because I have placed the image in Cornwall (my feminine zone).

EXERCISE : Gender Zones

Create a list of ten French words and try to memorize their genders. Use the three keys of memory – association, location and imagination. Choose your own Gender Zones, then process each word in the following way.

1. Look at the gender of the word and place it in the correct zone.
2. Find a link between the sound of the Spanish word and its meaning.
3. Create an image or scene and place it strategically in a precise part of the chosen zone.

So, when I look at the first word in the list opposite, I know I have to think of a place in Cornwall (my feminine zone) connected with salt. I think of a friend of mine, Sally or Sal, dispensing salt over a plate of fish and chips at a little café I know well in Cornwall. Now you work through the rest of the words on the list.

Once you have established your Gender Zones to store all your nouns, there is nothing to stop you from designating other areas that are familiar to you for adjectives, verbs, numbers, months, and so on. For example, the most commonly used adjectives could be stored in your local park. Action verbs such as to run, to walk, to jump, to swim, and so on could all be stored at your local sports complex. Use exactly the same techniques you have employed in the exercise above to create these new zones and their word links.

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