Combined memory techniques

I have been reading about memory techniques recently as a way to help memorize foreign language vocabulary. I teach English as a foreign language at a university level and am a language student myself so i’m trying to find ways to improve my own learning techniques and find techniques that i can offer to my students.

Combined memory techniques: summary

Here is the idea in short:

  1. Use a memory palace to organize and provide structure to the words/concepts to be remembered
  2. Use the link method to help create associations/stories/images that can be storied in the memory palace location.
  3. Use a modified version of the Major Method (see here and here)to create a visual encoding of the sounds of the words to be learned. These images can be a starting point for creating visualizations/stories for words that don’t suggest one on their one.

If you want more details/the travel-log of how I came to this idea, read on.

Travel log

I did a learning styles test in college and found out that i’m basically even between all the major learning styles (touch, audio, and visual), though I slightly favor audio techniques. This means there is no magic bullet to help me remember foreign language vocabulary.

I’ve struggled to find a method that words for me. At this point I think the best method is a combination of them. I think Memory palaces work really well as a way to mentally organize vocabulary but I have trouble coming up with mnemonics. Especially since i’m learning Mandarin Chinese which sounds nothing like any language that I speak or have studied, so I have to really think to come up with mnemonics.

So I’ve tried using the link method to create associations or a little mini story/scene about each word i’m trying to learn. Then I’ve found it helpful for me to pick some element from the association or story that I can visualize at the location in the memory palace. Then I can use this visual element to remember the association/story and then I can use the association/story to remember the pronunciation and meaning of the word.

For words that really don’t suggest a link or story, I have developed a visual encoding for the sounds of the language I’m trying to learn (c.f. the Major Method). Starting with these images usually helps me come of with a story of visualization that will help me remember the word.

After this I’ve recently tried going through the memory palace and creating a story world that uses each word that i’m trying to remember. I think this reprocessing of the memory palace in the form of a story that I enjoy or find interesting helps stick the words in memory so I can recall them when needed.

So this is a lot of travel-log that boils down to try using a memory palace and combine it with other techniques to find useful associations/stories/images that can help in remembering the words to be learned.

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