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Research has consistently indicated that the use of mnemonic devices substantially enhances higher levels of retention in immediate recall of second language vocabulary words in comparison with other learning strategies. However, the evidence does not explain why the immediate benefits of mnemonic devices fail to extend to long-term retention. In addition, research on mnemonics has drawn mostly on the assessment of phonetic-hospitable languages such as English (as opposed to image-hospitable languages such as Chinese). To examine the use of mnemonic devices more thoroughly, this review will draw on psychological research on memory to discuss the efficacy of mnemonic methods, as opposed to rote rehearsal, in learning vocabulary in phonetic- and image-hospitable languages.