Memory Tricks to get Conversational in a Language in 7 days

Memory Tricks to get Conversational in a Language in 7 days

See these memory tricks that'll make you conversational quick and learn how to interact with people in different real-life situations in 7 days.
May 31 2022

Conversational ability. 7 days. 150-200 vocabulary items. 21-28 words per day. Are you excited?

Holding a conversation in another language is a lot easier than you think.

It’s time to change your perception of what “learning a language” actually means – because the ability to share conversations in another language is at your fingertips. Here’s why. (Spoilers: You don’t have to be fluent).


You do NOT need to:

  • Memorise every word that’s ever existed in that language
  • Travel to a country where your language is spoken (this helps, of course, but you can still get conversational from home)
  • Be able to read long articles or books in that language


You DO need:

  •     To learn 150-200 words & phrases
  •     Some understanding of grammar 
  •     The confidence to speak (and make mistakes)


language learner

We know what you’re thinking: ‘Woooaaahhh that’s a lot of words!’ Nope. Ignore that voice; it’s time to learn smart.

With our fun memory-boosting tricks and no-nonsense approach to learning, you’ll pick up vocabulary faster than you can say “I love you” in Italian (‘ti voglio bene’). Awh… we like you too.

The secret to getting conversational quick? Learn what you can use in real-life situations. Sounds simple, right? But you’d be amazed how many learners forget to laser in on this.


Here are 4 memory tricks to get you conversational quick:


Memory Trick 1: Learn what you need

Memrise Japanese course

Remember reciting lists of animals, numbers, and colours in language classes at school like robots? On reflection, they felt like a waste of time when it comes to speaking in real life. After all, this is the purpose of learning a language in the first place.

Recently, Memrise’s co-founder and memory expert – Ed Cooke – helped celebrities Amber Gill, Nina Wadia, and Anna Richardson hold a conversation in another language in just 7 days during Channel 4’s memory competition: Can I Improve my Memory? In the final challenge, they spoke in the following quasi-real life situations in a conversational roleplay test:


Amber Gill – a job interview with a Danish delicatessen owner

Nina Wadia – small talk with a Portuguese taxi driver

Anna Richardson – a beer garden date in Germany


Amber Gill speaking Danish


The test revealed that the secret to getting conversational quick is to pinpoint the language you need in different real-life situations. 

Over to you. Ask yourself why you want to speak a language – and envisage potential scenarios based on your answer.


Need to brainstorm some situations? Check out these examples:

  • Transport, asking for directions, using accommodation
  • Sightseeing and shopping
  • Chatting with locals on a variety of topics: family, sports, weather love, hobbies, emotions,
  • Ordering in a restaurant & paying for things
  • Going on a date


Feeling confident? It’s time to learn.


Memory Trick 2: Follow your interests

Memrise Spanish course

Did you know that you’re far more likely to remember what you’re interested in? your brain holds on to what you care about. 

Love talking about football? How about politics, crime or healthcare? Or food? Perhaps you can’t resist a party? Memorising vocabulary related to your interests is a great way to get conversational fast.


Here’s how to say “are you guys popping round ours later?” in Italian: fate un salto da noi dopo?



HubSpot Video



Our language courses (based on videos of local speakers like the one just now) present you with likely real-life situations and teach you how to communicate in them. Interested? Browse all courses.


Memory Trick 3: Focused Attention

Ever been scrolling through your phone while watching TV? Chances are, if we tested you on the TV content afterwards... you’d score very low.

How we pay attention is very important. Think of those lessons at school, a past work call, or even socialising with friends… our minds naturally wander unless we make a conscious effort to focus our attention

For example, when you drive a car, your active attention is required to get from A to B, and to keep yourself and others safe. Evidence suggests that focusing hard on one thing makes it stand out clearer than the rest and helps commit it to memory.

So when trying to remember your words and phrases, remember to activate your attention. Focus hard, set a daily target, take one vocabulary item at a time – and your conversations are just around the corner. 


Memory Trick 4: Spaced Repetition

spaced repetition

Spaced repetition is perfectly suited to vocabulary learning because it enables you to remember things indefinitely. To be clear: It does not mean ‘cramming’ information into your brain and studying for hours at a time... 

Spaced repetition is called spaced for a reason! It asks you to learn and actively recall information in cleverly calculated interviews based on your performance. 


Here’s how it works:

You are tested more often on vocabulary items that are new or more difficult, and less often on ones that are older and easier to remember. The timing of future tests are scheduled depending on how well you do.

  • Recall the vocabulary correctly = the bigger the interval between the test.
  • Get it wrong = shorter the interval

We recommend you make spaced repetition your best friend to get conversational quick. Lucky for you, all Memrise courses fast-track your learning with spaced repetition. You’ll be amazed how much you can learn in such a short time. You’ve got this!


Fancy getting started? The Memrise app uses spaced repetition to hammer home vocabulary in short and sharp sessions. You’ll learn and recall vocab at systematic intervals dependent on your learning speed and the words you find easy and hard to recall.

As almost 60 million people will tell you, it’s quite fun. 😉


How to get conversational with Memrise:

Memrise language videos


Our 23 language courses are designed to make you conversational fast.

Your 7 days start now. Choose a language course. Explore different language scenarios. Let your motivations and interests drive your learning. Practice little and often. And notice your competency improve day-by-day.

Relax. Our motivational learning reminders, vocab speed reviews, listening and speaking exercises will keep you on track.

What are you waiting for?

Pick a language course


Download a free worksheet

Download this free worksheet with all the phrases you need to talk about work in Spanish, French, German, Japanese, and Korean. You'll also get regular updates from us on the latest language learning tips.