Improve your retention of new words and numbers.

Some of my students find it difficult to remember or spell certain English words.

The good news is that we can learn to use our memory constructively to improve our retention and spelling of new words.

I would like to share a simple memory improvement technique that I remember (ha ha) from my NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) class I attended back in 2013.

If you’re finding it difficult to remember or spell a word, for example ‘Rhythm’:

  • Write the word on paper or a board
  • Spend a few seconds just looking at the word. Focus on the shape of the letters.


  • When you feel ready close your eyes and see the word in your mind’s eye (write the word in your brain with your eyes closed and spend a few seconds ‘looking’ at it).
  • Open your eyes and look at the word again.
  • Wait a while and test yourself to see if the exercise has worked.
  • If not, repeat the exercise.

The same technique can be used to remember numbers. You can try any number and apply the same steps above.

To test yourself – and this technique – see if you remember this number the next day.

Latest research shows that a learner is likely to remember only 10% of textual content, 65% of visual content, but 95% of audio-visual content.

The above neuro linguistic programming memory retention exercise is related to this research. We can improve the results of this exercise by adding audio. When you close your eyes to visualize the word or number, vocalise it too. Listening to yourself can improve your memory and even your pronunciation.

This is why when I teach a group class I write on the whiteboard and vocalise what I’m writing at the same time. This certainly helps my students retain their class material.

The research done on audio-visual content strongly suggests that video clips for learning are the best for memory retention in a class environment and personal study. Then the NLP retention method above can be used for any word, number or phrase we find difficult to remember.

GeorgeAcerca de George

My passion for teaching English has given me experience in South Africa, China and Spain. As a native speaker, I hold a BA in English and an 120-hour face to face TEFL certificate. I give ..

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