EL本棚紹介(51) Vocabulary Cartoons, by New Monic Books

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Vocabulary Cartoons is very helpful for teaching you how to study vocabulary. Every page introduces a vocabulary word with a “hook,” a funny picture connecting the word and hook, and three example sentences. The “hook” is a mnemonic (a memory trick) that sounds a little like the vocabulary word. It is meant to help native speakers study for the SAT, something like the Center Test in the USA. I don’t think the “hook” will necessarily be useful for Japanese students, but you can still learn a lot with this book.

When I teach vocabulary, I stress the importance of connecting words with images. “Agile” means “someone who can run, jump, and balance well,” so I suggest always connecting the word “agile” with the image of a “cat.” This book can help you do this, even if not all of the pictures make sense. For example, the picture for “ballistic” (related to bullets, missiles, or shooting) is of “lipstick” (the hook word) coming out of a gun. If you connect the word “ballistic” with the strange image of the “lipstick gun,” you may be more likely to remember it. The three example sentences give more realistic uses of the words in context, though, which is very important.

My two cents: People who compete in memory competitions (e.g. memorizing long lists in a short amount of time) often say that the weirder or more surprising an image is, the easier it is to recall. This may be a good technique to help you learn vocabulary.