This story from the Christian Science Monitor describes a commercial language learning program called Linkword based on a well known mnemonic technique. “Target words” in a foreign language are associated with sound-alike words in the native language, and the link is represented by a vivid visual image. For instance. The Spanish word for monkey is “el mono.” Therefore, a learner would picture a monkey wearing a monocle. When trying to think of the Spanish word for monkey, the silly image comes to mind, and then the sound-alike association leads to the correct Spanish word. Monkey = el mono. The absurdity of the image actually helps memorization, making it stick in your mind.
Of course, you do not need to buy a commercial program to do this, though it may be helpful in the beginning to get the first few hundred words. As you progress in a language, you can begin applying your own visual techniques.