Try and associate the new word with something that you aleady know. Make the association as vivid as absolutely possible.
I'm trying to learn Polish. The word for thank you in Polish is Dziękuję
Polish consonants and letter combinations sound totally different to the pronounciation of the English alphabet.
Dziękuję is pronounced in English as djenkooye.
I rememeber how to pronounce this word in the following way:
My sister in law is called Jennifer, which is often abbreviated to Jenny or Jen.
One of the web designer people I follow is called Chris Coyier from www.css-tricks.com
I take my sisters abbreviated name Jen and add it to the surname of Chris from CSS tricks.
If I do this I get Jen + Coyier or JenCoyier, which when pronounced together actually sounds like the English pheonetic translation of the word Dziękuję - djenkooye.
The important thing here, is to try to associate new language with things you already know.
I hope that helps.
From my little understanding of Chinese. Every syllable is represented by a Chinese character.
If I wanted to remember the word for knee in Chinese, I would probably remember it in the following way.
Kneeing Hitler in the balls, why he was shouting sieg heil
It is a very vivid picture that is painted in my mind. I have also associated knee with the sound of the word.
sieg heil sounds very similar to 膝蓋(Xīgài). Well, similar enough to jog my memory.