Not directly Spanish related, but a great reminder of the power of word association and mnemonic devices!
Originally posted on TED Blog:
To an outsider, the Chinese language “seems to be as impenetrable as the Great Wall of China,” says ShaoLan Hsueh in today’s talk, given at TED2013. Hsueh’s mission over the past few years has been to break down that barrier, making reading and writing in Chinese accessible to people who didn’t grow up doing it.
[ted_talkteaser id=1736]Her solution? A method she calls “Chineasy.” To achieve basic literacy, Hsueh says, you need only know 1,000 characters, and the top 200 allow you to comprehend 40 percent of basic literature. Chineasy involves pairing characters with facial expressions, body movements and images that conjure up words in English.
In her talk, Hsueh moves through eight foundational characters, describing mnemonic devices and showing artful depictions. “Open your mouth as wide as possible until it’s square,” she says. Are you doing it? Voila, the character for mouth: 口. Hsueh shows a graphic her team has designed of a person going for a walk, based on the character for person: 人. Fire is the character for person with what look like two arms waving, as if the person is engulfed in flames and yelling, “Help!”: 火. Hsueh also takes us through tree (木), mountain (山), sun (日), moon (月), and door (門), which “looks like a pair of saloon doors in the Wild West.”