The brain uses two separate processes to piece together language; Encoding and Retrieval. Encoding starts with letter recognition such as shape and sound which is then used to develop word recognition and ultimately ending in meaning and understanding. This can also include encoding verbal, non-verbal and body language from others. Retrieval on the other hand, also termed ‘Expressive language’, is the brain’s ability to express thoughts into words, name things, and execute word finding.
Increasing the time spent with words and exposure to a variety of words develops associations and connections within the brain. Individual attention with each process is needed in order to improve one’s language skills.
To improve encoding one should read, learn new words, learn a new language, use mind maps to attach details to a main idea, and play word search puzzles to mention a few.
To improve retrieval skills one should retell a story, name pictures, play crossword puzzles, play categories or any other activity that requires the individual to retrieve previously stored information using associations or free recall. An example of retrieval using associations would be asking an individual to name or classify a picture seen on a flash card. For free recall, remove any visual, auditory or kinesthetic clue to help them retrieve the right information. An example being the verbal fluency activity which asks the individual to name as many items from a particular category.
Try these language puzzles during your workout today.
2.) Retrieval: Every minute on the minute, name as many items from each category as possible. 1 point per word, discount repeats and plurals.
1st minute: Farm Animals
2nd minute: Zoo Animals
3rd minute: School Supplies
4th minute: Gym Equipment
5th minute: Food
*Mix in a round of your favorite movement during one or more of the minutes for maximum brain benefits!