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Kwik Learning Memory Class 3: Vocabulary and Spelling

Updated: Dec 24, 2020


I’m currently taking the Recall Masterclass from Kwik Learning right now, and as part of the homework, I am to teach what I learned each class to other people. The class is taught by Jim Kwik, a renowned brain coach. Since I’m a blogger, I’d like to share my notes with all of you. I hope you can use the knowledge and practice the methods to improve your memory as well.

Class 3: Remembering Vocabulary and Spelling

Remembering vocabulary is especially important for students because they are always learning new words in school. In fact, the main reason I care about this lesson is to give my students advice for learning vocabulary.

But for people who are not in school anymore, learning new words is still important because we think in words, so if we can expand our vocabulary, we can expand our thinking ability. Imagine if you could learn 10 new words every day. That would be 300 words in a month, and over 3000 words in a year! It's definitely possible.

This lesson had 4 key ideas:

  1. Spaced repetition

  2. TIP for remembering definitions

  3. Visual Kinesthetic for remembering spelling

  4. Use olfactory for tests

Key Idea 1: Spaced Repetition

Our short-term memory lasts about 6 seconds. If we want to move something from short-term memory to long-term memory, we have to use spaced repetition.

To do spaced repetition, first write down that word on a flashcard and then the definition on the back of the flashcard. Review that flashcard in intervals. The first review is one hour later. The second interval is one day later. The third interval is one week later. The fourth and final interval is one month later. After that, it should be stored in your long-term memory.

As a complement to spaced repetition, you should try to use that word as much as you can during the day you learned it. That helps you deepen your understanding and impression of the word.

Key Idea 2: TIP for Remembering Definitions

TIP = Turn Into Picture. Another way to think about it is to play Pictionary with yourself to remember words.

First, turn the word itself into a picture. Then turn the definition into a picture. Then connect the two pictures. How do you connect them? Use the vowels:

A = Action. Have some kind of action connecting the two pictures.

E = Exaggeration and emotion.

I = Illogical

O = Outstanding

U = Unusual

By using the 5 vowels, we make the picture really vivid and therefore memorable.

Let’s do an example: extol. Extol means to praise.

First, I turn the word into a picture. Extol sounds like eggs + toll. So I imagine driving through a toll booth, and then I put eggs instead of money into the toll box. Then the officer praises me highly for it.

Let’s do another example: foretoken. It means warning.

What visual story can you make out of it? It’s an exercise in creativity and imagination. The stronger you get at imagination, the better your memory.

I can imagine myself going to a fortune teller, and she gives me a grave warning about the future. Instead of paying her money, I pay her with bus tokens.

An important point about this TIP strategy is that it’s simply a method to an end. Once you remember the word and its definition via spaced repetition, you no longer need to remember the story you created.

Key Idea 3: Visual Kinesthetic for Spelling

There are three main learning styles: auditory, visual, and kinesthetic (feeling). Most people try to remember spelling by using the sound, but that’s a bad strategy for English because for many words, the spelling does not match the sound.

In order to remember English spelling better, we should use the visual and kinesthetic learning styles. To do the kinesthetic part, write down the word on a flashcard. To do the visual part, hold the flashcard up to your top left. The reason is because when we try to remember things, we naturally move our eyes towards the top left.

Then take a mental picture of that flashcard with that spelling there. Then close your eyes and see that mental picture. You know you’ve remembered the spelling if you can spell the word backwards. Most people are not able to do that because when they memorized the spelling, they didn’t do it visually.

Key Idea 4: Use Olfactory for Tests

Olfactory is our sense of smell, and it is strongly linked to memory. We can use olfactory to help us remember things for tests. When you’re studying for that subject, put on a specific scented oil or chew a specific gum (we will smell that flavor). Then when the test comes, do the same thing. That smell will help you remember what you studied.


Practice learning 5-10 new words per day. Learn both the meaning and the spelling. If you don't know where to find new words, you can start by checking out the SAT list of top 100 words:

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