1. Know why you are doing it– it is important that learners and teachers are clear about the reasons for teaching and learning anatomy and the techniques that will be used to foster learning and application.
2. Dive in – practise anatomy daily; be excited about the fact that you are learning a new language; tell people that you are learning to speak anatomy.
3. Find a friend to learn with you – it is useful to learn with someone, someone who understands and appreciates what it is you are trying to achieve.
4. Keep it relevant – when you learn anatomy there may be many distractors; focus on one theme at a time and practise that.
5. Have fun – think of fun, creative and innovative methods to bring your language to life. You may wish to create characters to help you learn names and positions of structures, e.g. Mr Femur is your typical hippy and does lunch with Ace Tabulum – my word, when the two of them meet, do they move.
6. Act like a child – don’t be scared to explore the language, make mistakes and learn from them. Don’t be scared to admit, ‘I haven’t learned that yet,’ as opposed to ‘I can’t’ or ‘I don’t’.
7. Leave your comfort zone – willingness to make mistakes means that you could be vulnerable and easily embarrassed. This can be scary but, equally, transformative. Next time you visit your doctor, you may wish to explain your issue in a language you both understand.
8. Listen– when we learn a language we must learn to listen before we speak. Anatomy as a language may sound strange the first time you hear it being spoken, but the more you expose yourself to it, the more familiar it becomes, and the better able you will be to make connections between words and terms. How often have you picked up a word from another language and thought about it and then realised – ‘Aha! So that’s where the word originated …’
9. Watch people talk or teach anatomy – this will encourage you to understand how words are enunciated and described. You may even wish to read medical reports to identify anatomical terms.
10. Use self-talk – talk to yourself by revising and refreshing anatomical terms. Build a vocabulary and focus on developing meaning for the words you use. When you sit on a bus or train, describe the person opposite you in anatomical language – just be careful to control your laughter!
For more anatomical study skills for your toolkit, read "Making Sense of Learning Human Anatomy and Physiology"