Make Your Own Memory Cards
By now you’ve probably seen several articles with examples of Spanish picture cards. We present another series of downloadable Spanish picture flash cards, this time for memorizing basic verbs. But we also want to challenge you, and your students, to draw your own memory-enhancing cards.
In this article we look at how and why we came up with the various images on the cards; use this as a guide for brainstorming ideas for creating your own Spanish picture flash cards, either as a class or individually. As you envision ways to illustrate each Spanish verb, remember that you’re trying to create memorable images, not artistic masterpieces.
As is often the case, the Spanish word brincar doesn’t translate directly to any one word in English. Instead it has multiple interpretations, depending on context, but they’re all fairly close together. Imagine people hopping, skipping or jumping around. Then imagine them doing so right at the brink of a precipice, and you have a properly ridiculous, memorable image that makes the leap, pun intended, from brink to brincar.
The mental image of an apple core running around is pretty ridiculous, isn’t it? The word core also sounds very much like the Spanish word correr, which means “to run.” This simple yet absurd word-image association works both ways: If you’re trying to remember the word for “to run”, there’s a good chance the apple core will jog through your thoughts, prompting the thought process: Core… core… ah yes, correr. And if you’re faced with the word correr but can’t remember what it means, that same apple core – forever caught trotting by on the Spanish picture card you create – will help you remember what it means.
Image association isn’t all about sound; the visual learners among you will understand right away that an English word that looks like a Spanish word makes a great recall tool, even if the two words don’t sound alike. In this case, the English word “border” doesn’t sound anything like the Spanish word morder, but it looks almost exactly like it. Illustrating a Spanish picture card with a pair of biting teeth on a border makes a great image to recall the almost-lookalike word morder and its meaning: To bite. Use whatever image best summons up the word “border” for you. It could be a wallpaper border or a map showing the border between countries.
Sometimes you can’t think up an English word that sounds or looks exactly like a Spanish vocabulary word, but you might be able to cobble together a short phrase. In this case, the simple phrase of “’bye, Lar!” sounds almost exactly like the Spanish word bailar or to dance. If Lar – the guy who’s leaving – is forever dancing his way out on your Spanish picture card, you have a memorable, silly image that immediately calls the new Spanish vocabulary word you were looking for to mind.
The words and images you choose to illustrate your picture flash cards are fairly personal; they depend on how your mind works. For me, the image of screaming sandpaper calls to mind the Spanish word gritar -- to scream – because when I see sandpaper I think of grit. And again, a piece of screaming sandpaper makes for such a ridiculous mental image that it’s very easy to recall.
If your students enjoy using or creating their own Spanish picture cards, they might also enjoy other activities geared toward visual learners.
- Source: Author’s own experience
This post is part of the series: Spanish Picture Cards: Learning Language With Pictures
Learning a new language by rote connects words to words. But you don’t take the world in as words–instead, it’s a series of images. Learn to think in Spanish, instead of translating from English, by pairing Spanish words directly with the image they represent.