Learning by rote seems an old-fashioned idea, something that was done in the Victorian era, when canes were used liberally.

But it is still used in schools today, if in a different way. Part of the education process is learning how to remember chunks of information, whether for an after-school play or an exam. Some argue that in our information age, there is no need to remember anything as the answer is just a few short clicks away.

This misses the point though. Whilst information is more easily accessible today, nothing quite beats having the answer to hand, an automatic response from the depths of your brain. When you’re in a conversation in your second language, there is no time to stop and look up a word you don’t have. It would break the flow and you may lose more words.

So how do you keep those words in your brain? London black-cab drivers are a good example – they need to learn ‘The Knowledge’:

London black-cab drivers need a detailed knowledge of a six-mile radius of Charing Cross station. They learn 320 routes, and all the landmarks and places of interest along the way. The process can take three to five years, and dropout rates are said to be around 80%.

Nick O’Connor, from Essex, is making good progress after 22 months of study. He says: “It doesn’t need a specific person or a specific brain. It’s just about being structured and having the motivation to get up every single day and go out on the bike [to research the routes]. I’d say anyone could do it.” (Source: BBC News)

Structure and motivation. Learn a little bit of your target language every day. Make sure you put some time aside to do it. Soon you will have ‘The Knowledge’!