How to add new vocab to a memory palace?

Hi :wave:t2:

I’ve recently used Memory Palaces and I was amazed by the results. Now I’m looking for a way to apply them for language learning (learning Russian now). But there are some questions I still didn’t find answers for. Hopefully someone can help me out.

Context first. I’m an experienced language learner and I learn mostly through listening and reading + Anki. So I learn words as I find them and not by following any list or textbook.

My first question would be:

  1. How would you go about adding new words to your memory palace as you go? (in opposition to memorizing a premade list) Does it interfer with old memories? Do you make new locations between the old ones?

  2. Language vocab is something that scales to the thousands. How do you organize that? Do you create a palace with hundreds of sublocations or multiple palaces?

If it’s an alphabetical sequence, how would you do it considering I’m not following a premade list?

  1. Maybe unrelated, but how to create mnemonics for pronunciation when you can’t find a correlation with English (or my native language)?

Thanks in advance.


Well I’ve learned a couple of languages, and like you haven’t really used any mnemonics to do it. Anki SRS, reading, etc. This time with Korean I did use a journey to remember the alphabet and the sounds, and I have a palace where I’ve stored the vocabulary my teacher is giving me. I’m just trying to get to A1 in Korean, so not very fluent. What I am doing at the moment is using my “Lonely Planet” phrase book and memorizing the phrases. For example all the phrases and vocabulary I have a palace which is a restaurant, a doctor’s office for parts of the body and illness, a police station, train station, etc.

Like thematic dictionaries I have used to learn Italian, and French, the words and phrases are grouped into the associated buildings. I’m picturing the “thing” or whatever the phrase is about, but I’m struggling to remember the spelling using the Korean alphabet, I suspect you’ll have the same issue with Cyrillic.

I’m only a beginner at this memory stuff myself, and to be honest I don’t really hold much hope of learning a language using these techniques, but we’ll see.

Having a thematic town is the only way I could think of adding new words to a memory palace, since I have many of them, not just trying to fill up one. And if I run out of room in one restaurant, then I’ll just dream up another. This method for me is both scalable and easy to add new words whenever I encounter them.

For pronunciation, where I needed to, I try to use the English equivalent. For example, in Korean clock is: 시계 which sounds like “She Gay” in English, so I have an image of a lesbian wedding on a clock face with both partners pointing at the other. Not very PC, but it helps me remember the sound of the word and the translation.

Your mileage may vary.


Personally, I also don’t use a memory palace for learning languages, as it’s not sequential data, and I need immediate recall.

Spaced repetition and actually trying to use vocabulary words in context were the two things that helped me the most with learning vocabulary.

If the language would be very unfamiliar (e.g. if I would learn Mongolian or Hungarian) then I might find mnemonic strategies helpful in the short term to learn certain words. But this would be e.g. to remember that the Hungarian for “foot” is “láb” I might imagine that my foot were made in a lab (laboratory). Then that would help me with the spaced repetition, and soon I wouldn’t ever need to think of the laboratory link again. You could do the same with a memory palace, structured in some way that makes sense to you, but in my opinion (for my preferences) it would be greatly overkill.


I like the idea of a thematic town, thanks. This way I guess it’s easier to store new words/phrases as I find them.

Thank you, I think I will try that.

About the pronunciation, my question is exactly about when there isn’t a correlation. In your example it was pretty obvious.

I thought the same thing:
it isn’t sequential information and you need immediate recall.

But… I’m curious about how it feels. But maybe what I need more is to get better at using mnemonics.

And the second thing I was thinking about was to use it to maintain languages. Kind of a memory palace where I can go back to and refresh core vocab.

But thanks!