How to multiply loci in memory palace and structure a palace for Language Learning?

To start with, I have been searching a lot on the forums for answers and my questions are coming from an inability to find answers to my questions, and observing some disagreement among some seasoned mnemonic dudes on various threads. I also understand the basics of mnemonics from the e-book. I’m acquainted with the method of loci, keyword-links, and other systems.

I’m a beginner in mnemonics and Arabic, and I’m trying to find the best method for learning Arabic as a native English only speaker. I’ve read @Paolo 's post about memorizing a ton of vocab w/ the memory palace (15,000 in 3 months); it kind of lit a fire in me for what’s possible. I also was fascinated by how he structured his memorization alphabetically.

I realize that people need to try out many different systems to see which one works best for them, however it seems that on this forum there is some general consensus that the mind palaces work extremely well for everyone.

Hence, I want to try out the mind palace technique. But in order for me to know if it’s effective for me, I need to know two things related to how to do the memory palace:

  1. How to fit a ton of information into a smaller area. How do you fit 50 words in one room? I understand the intro ebook where you pan left to right, and use objects. In that example however there were only a few objects which = a few things to know. But how do you manipulate the room or palace in order to put a ton of words in it (i.e., a memory palace for adjectives?) More palaces? According to the ebook, I could only memorize 50 things in my house therefore I’d need like 100 houses. a Portal? Idk what that is, i just saw it on a thread somewhere. Make the room bigger? What’s too big and too small?

  2. What’s the best way to organize a mind palace(s) taking language structure into account? (i.e., nouns, verbs, prepositions, connectors, etc.? Alphabetically? Some combo of alphabetical with categories [i.e., alphabetical verbs]? )

So far my method have been using Anki cloze deletion flashcards utilizing the “keyword link” technique (which I assume is making a image or movie concept of the foreign word in your own language). @LikeARollingStone prefers Anki cloze deletion over memory palaces, though I’m not sure why.

I have 3 card types for each word.

Card 1:
Front Side: The word for “street” is _____? (type in answer)
Back Side: Sheiri3 (street), with audio button, image of a street, mnemonic link (imagine a street sharing abba CDs by spitting them out of the asphalt). Gender link

Card 2:
Front: What’s the concept link to Sherei3? (image of street included)
Back: Street sharing abba CDs by spitting them out of the asphalt.

Card 3:
Front: Whats word for “Imagine a street sharing abba CDs by spitting them out of the asphalt”?
Back: Sheiri3, other info

This achieves the two way keyword-link and link-keyword recall that I saw was recommended on some forum threads. It has been helpful, however I’m wondering if memory palaces would be better to use in tandem with this.

@metivier mentioned in a reply on Paolo’s thread that It’s better to not memorize things into “empty space”, as is the case with the keyword-link method. So maybe a memory palace is better?

About me: I have about 25 hours a week to learn the language. Goals: basic speaking fluency, writing fluency, and reading fluency. Speaking is most important to me, although reading and writing is especially helpful for speaking Arabic. (perhaps a frequency dictionary taking top 2000 arabic words, and learning them in alphabetical order would be most effective? thoughts?)

I understand memory palace is a better method for passive acquisition (reading, hearing) according to @Paolo’s post, but it was also mentioned that it can still supplement and improve active actions (writing, speaking). I want to know the best possible system to produce the greatest synergy amongst methods taking into account things like Anki, memory palaces, other mnemonic methods, language structure, etc., to learn as quickly as humanly possible. I’m currently in a month-long intensive classroom course for basics of Levantine (lebanese) arabic. I’ve found it extremely helpful in learning grammar rules and other arabic rules. Maybe when I’m done I’ll be able to have a better idea of how to organize the language elements (nouns, verbs, prepositions, etc.) for memory palaces.

Do you have any advice?

Maybe I’m getting too far ahead of myself here - I’m just really interested in learning from people here and I’d love some advice and thoughts here. I have many more questions, but I thought I’d save some space since this is a massive post :grimacing:

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First, I suggest you set aside the quest for the “best” way. I personally do not think this mental/mindset approach reflects the true glory of these techniques.

Likewise, unclear formulations like “a ton of information” is not useful to you.

I use the alphabet in multiple ways and recommend it for everything from Memory Palace generation to imagery generation and organization. Dive in and apply. It feels like you’re digging yourself into analysis paralysis.

I can’t speak to Anki because it has always seemed to me a deviation from the mnemonic arts. Others seem to fuse the two together just fine, but if I’m going to use cards, the last place on earth they will be is on a dumb phone.

Finally, I would say that no consensus is needed on a forum like this about the Memory Palace technique. But I would be surprised if anyone would agree that the MP should be used as an alternative to listening and reading. The whole point is to read, write, speak and listen from memory and into memory so that you get the full benefit of the levels of processing effect.

It boils down to implementation and adaptation. Nearly every answer you seek is answerable by you and you alone. The rest is shop talk. I have a podcast loaded with the shop talk and we love it - but the real game to play is daily implementation.

Have fun and stop overthinking it. I have a video about the overthinking issue on my YouTube channel that you might find useful, soon to be on the podcast. Google is your friend. :slight_smile:

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I’m not an expert here, by any means, but I do have a couple of points to share.

I don’t personally have any issues memorizing things into “blank spaces” using the linking method if I’m only planning to store one or two pieces of information (like where I left the car at the airport) or only need that information for a brief amount of time (while showing off memory skills for friends). If I really want to remember something, it goes into a location-based system.

I’m fairly “traditional” when it comes to memory techniques. So when the writer of Rhetorica ad Herennium recommends leaving as much space as possible between memory locations, I assume that’s good advice. I don’t take it to the extremes that he did, but I try to keep to about 10-15 locations per room, maximum. (Many of my spaces have fewer than that.) I think you may run into problems trying to find memorable locations for 50+ items within a single room. Instead, I’d suggest you expand your palace to allow for more breathing room. I’d especially encourage you to look into adapting Dominic O’Brien’s approach to language memorization, which uses an entire town/village as the memory palace. More information can be found in O’Brien’s book How to Develop a Perfect Memory and here:

https://artofmemory.com/blog/tag/memory-town-method

Bob

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Thanks for the reply @metivier. Care to share what you mean by this?

By “Best” I mean quickest and most efficient…perhaps this was unclear. I’d like to hear why this could hide the true glory of mnemonic methods.

Also, by “a ton of information”, I’m assuming advanced memory palaces are structured in a way to allow for a lot of information to be in one room - maybe this assumption is wrong. I’m just trying to figure out how to practically structure a memory palace or palaces to hold enough for language vocabulary.

I can understand how my first post included overthinking it, and I will definitely check out that youtube video :slight_smile:. I can’t wait to jump to implementation of a MP, I just don’t know how to do it for a language. That was my main question - how to structure a MP to account for a lot of vocab. Once I know that, I can jump in and try and stop theorizing.

I don’t know how to start off the right way to make enough room for a lot of words, or how to connect memory palaces to each other etc.

Thanks @RMBittner for your reply. I’ve heard of that memory town method. I’ll check it out for sure!

Thanks for giving a practical tip. 10-15 items per room. Care to share any tip on how to expand a room or palace? That’s my main roadblock at this point.

If you keep in mind that I don’t personally recommend trying to cram 50 locations into a single space, you can add a small number of new locations by imagining additional pieces of furniture in each room. Perhaps one room has a three-shelf bookcase. Maybe another has a chest of drawers or a roll-top desk. Each of those items could add an additional 3-5 locations to an existing space. The challenge is that you’ll need to remember which piece of furniture is in which room, if they don’t exist in reality and you’re just making them up.

But I’d also suggest starting with the largest palace you can. Maybe that’s a school campus that you know well, with multiple buildings and expansive grounds. Maybe it’s an airport that you’re familiar with. You just need a large space that offers a diverse range of spaces so that not every room is an identical or similar box. A modern office building probably wouldn’t be a good choice for that reason. Neither would a museum or a library, unless you know it very, very well and can keep each room distinct in your mind.

Others here have more elaborate techniques for expanding spaces, but they aren’t techniques I’ve used myself.

Bob

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I may not be using “advanced memory palaces,” but I think your assumption may be wrong. (I’m also curious what kind of “structure” you think might be involved in these places.)

I believe the size of the overall palace should match the amount of information to be stored there. Compared with my approach, you’re suggesting having information in just two rooms that I would have in an entire house.

That’s why I keep recommending the memory town approach for language memorization. A town—even a small town—should provide more than enough room for memorizing vocabulary and other language information. I think you’re going to limit your own effectiveness if you choose to stuff all of that information into a single, normal-size house.

Having said all that, though, someone here recently noted that they were able to successfully place something like 20-30 loci on a single apple! If that’s how your mind works, then feel free to ignore all of my suggestions and get as microscopic as you want. :wink:

Bob

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My comment reflects the view that using memory techniques is a scientific process of testing. “Best” is only achievable by being the individual doing the test.

If memory serves, Scott Young suggests that around 10% of your time should go to researching “ultralearning” techniques. That sounds like a good rule of thumb, but in this case, “research” is also hands-on doing.

As for the “memory town” approach, a few people talk about this. I find it less efficient and interesting than a Memory Palace Network derived from the alphabet. What does it matter which town those Memory Palaces are in when their most direct use is for gathering and drilling vocabulary and phrases into long term memory? Since it’s not about hoarding words in Memory Palaces for revisiting when you need them, single-city efforts are likely to chew up more time than necessary.

As for apples with oodles of stations, it’s possible it can work. A lot depends on the individual’s goals and “research” conducted in the field with experiments. I myself would not get very far with such an approach for vocabulary, but I’ve never felt that some of the ancient guidance on distance between stations or light were particularly useful.

If anything, it’s a process of intelligent planning and then Genchi Genbutsu.

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Unless I’m misunderstanding your point, the advantage of using a town comes from the fact that you can directly associate your vocabulary with many of the experiences of daily life and you have natural areas in which to store some of the grammar rules you’ll need to know.

As you walk down the street, you greet neighbors and shopkeepers and friends. Enter the supermarket and suddenly you have logical locations for all of the food-related words you’ve been using. Use the train tracks dividing the town in half, and you can immediately distinguish between male/female-gendered words. And so on.

Perhaps this approach resonates more with those who want to learn to speak the language in a real-world setting, since it lays out so many of the interactions and experiences that can/will actually occur in daily life.

Bob

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Hi Jason fellow language learner here!

" I don’t know how to start off the right way to make enough room for a lot of words, or how to connect memory palaces to each other etc. "

Here’s what I’ve done hundreds of time. Real example :

In my memory palace, instead of adding my new piece of dialogue (don’t place seperate words, place pieces of dialogue, if you want to focus on learning how to speak as fast as possible, and pieces of dialogue = grammar included, so no need to have seperate journey’s for grammar alone) and you’ll be able to say what you need right away.

So to address this problem, which isn’t really one when one realizes the number of palaces one can create is infinite, I jump to another familiar place by going to the first place that comes to mind when thinking of the new bit of dialogue to place. Example:

Do you come from America ?

first image that comes to mind : GUM … imagine a big piece of slimy green gum.

DON’T WORRY, trust me, with numerous recalling and revisions necessary for long term memory, and one’s natural ability to cancel out any other possibilities with the help of the rest of the content in your palace, you’ll remember that that’s the “Come from America?” question.

So

First familiar place that comes to mind:

corner store :convenience_store: where I used to buy my gum when I was a kid.

I then firmly place my giant gum where I am at the moment, in this case my hospital cafeteria already full of the most basic of Arabic dialogue,

and that reminds me to go to my candy store

In my :convenience_store: , I encounter A huge burning pitchfork shaped HOT Gum candy :candy: carried by thousands of ants out of the store (first station, the entrance)

What is the burning pitchfork for? And the ant’s? :ant: :ant: ?

HELL Ant amin America ? Which is what “do you come from America” in arabic sounds to me.

You could ad a giant odourfull MINT candy if needed ONLY IF on recalling the first times going through the journey the ant MIN doesn’t come to mind. But to my experience, two images is enough for a three or four images dialogue. Oh wait! I already made the gum green ! Green mint gum… Easy peasy!

Remember, for long term memory, even with a memory palace, it’s necessary to go through it often, the best time being right before you feel you will forget some of it. Right away after creating, 20 minutes or so later, right before going to sleep, next day, in 3 days, in a week, etc. But I find going with my feeling works best than doing a revision at specific intervals.

Remember, you need the audio for this as long as you don’t master the pronounciation and writing, so become a parrot and go through your journey listening to the audio, repeated and working on your ear development and mouth and throat development for pronunciation. Try to exaggerate every sound as much as you can. After the first two or three recalls, I usually don’t need the audio and go on recalling with my own pronounciation and even sometimes my own recordings where I fit my audio to my palaces. I always need to tweek my palace adding an image, ignoring another when no longer needed, creating new portholes to round up a collection of dialogues thematically or grammatically… Sky is the limit once you develop the basics!

‫hl 'ant min amarika ?

No need to make things more complicated at first, starting small and not being afraid to make mistakes AND having fun have been my favourite tricks for success with memorising. Further on, modifications, add-ons, etc. Started coming naturally to me, as my skills grew.

Can’t wait to see what example you can share with us, I would love to here it.

Cheers,

a rocket to the Caribbean!
Or a crib made of rock
or a Saddam Hussein in a Johnny Depp pirate of caribbean costume!

arak qrybaan! See you soon !

@RMBittner, I personally do not walk down streets in Memory Palaces. I do that on real streets.

When I use a street a Memory Palace, there is no need to “walk” from Station to Station. It also strikes me as deeply inefficient to rely on the people in my neighborhood to provide relevant triggers, when the pool of pop culture figures for semantic and echoic location is many orders of magnitude larger, stronger and more connectable when it comes to Mental Lego.

It’s not clear to me how “speaking” in a Memory Palace has anything to do with a real world setting and the point of the MP for language learning is not to refer to memorized vocabulary and phrases from MPs, but to use MPs to get that material into long term memory in combination with sufficient doses of reading, writing, speaking and listening in the “real” real world.

All this said, if you’re able to use an MP in this way, fantastic. What have you been chatting about in your MPs and how readily has this helped you with having conversations with people?

We’re clearly not on the same wavelength here. The conversations you can have within the memory journey are directly relevant to useful phrases that are invaluable in daily interactions: “Good morning,” “Good afternoon,” “How far is it to the park?”, “How much is this banana?” etc., etc. I’m not suggesting that you’re just standing there, chatting. If you imagine such conversations, they are specific to your situation, including phrases and words you specifically want to memorize. But you are immersed within an imagined world of the foreign language rather than, say, moving through a mental dictionary, location by location.

Of course, if you don’t want to have such conversations, don’t populate your journey with anyone else! But surely you can see an advantage to having a memory location that fits logically and naturally with the contents you store there—e.g., food-related nouns and verbs in a grocery store setting, clothing-related vocabulary in a clothing store, transportation-related vocabulary at the local train depot…? With many of the things we memorize, this kind of direct relationship of memory palace to stored information just isn’t possible. But when it is, it just seems natural to me to take advantage of those connections.

To me, the memory-town approach to language learning is the most natural and the benefits obvious. But for anyone who doesn’t happen to be wired the same way, please don’t feel that you have to struggle to get it to work for you. If another method makes more sense, that’s fine.

Bob

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I don’t mean to labor this, but I will mention that I occasionally have scripted conversations in my MPs to simply include a range of information that I couldn’t address easily through any other method.

For instance, in my MP for the world’s countries, at one point I’m in a room with several people and one says, “This has been fun. We should have a Reunion.”

“How about Comoros?” (Tomorrow)

“I can’t. I’m getting a boot tan.” (Bhutan)

Then I shrug and say goodbye to the others in the room. “Guy. Ana.” (Guyana) And then I move to the next locus.

For me, the conversation provides an efficient way to include information that I would otherwise struggle with imagining. I have no ready image for Comoros or Bhutan. So by making those words puns as part of a conversation, they become more memorable for me. The only real challenge is, if I’m memorizing information where the order is important, I need to make certain the conversation has a logical flow from start to finish and cannot happen any other way.

I will say, I try not to use this approach too often, because it doesn’t feel like it has the same integrity as those images that don’t have to rely on anything being said. And I guess I do feel that it’s always best if you can have an image that’s memorable on its own, without any help from dialogue. At the same time, these exchanges create interactive scenes that really bring the images to life in a way that my usual associations do not.

Bob

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@RMBittner, do you find that this also helps with actual conversations? Do you do it out loud, or purely internally?

I do. Of course, I’ve “rigged” the game a bit, since I’m controlling both sides of the conversation, which doesn’t happen in real life. But if you’re reviewing your memory journey regularly—and I use both palaces and journeys, whereas it seems you prefer to just use palaces—it helps to increase my confidence and ease when talking with real people in the real world.

Usually these memory-journey conversations are all in my head. But if I’m trying to get comfortable with unfamiliar pronunciation—say, something in French—then I’ll often speak aloud just to hear how I’m really doing.

Bob

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@cameri, So far there you use two memory palaces: where you are at now (the hospital cafeteria) and the gum candy store. Are you saying that the hospital cafeteria is would be the beginning of your journey, then your “link” to the candy shop would be gum piece?

How would you link the candy place to another palace? Since learning language would require a lot of memory palaces, how would you keep track of your memory palaces?

Thanks so much, really appreciate your help!

Yes that’s it, and gum reminds me of the sentence Come from America… and vice versa of course…

And in the candy store I continue and when I ve used up all the stations I could think of there, I use the sentence I am in my learning, in this case let’s say

Atuejibuk al’iiqamat Hina USING the audio though, it helps me get better images to not see the text at first.

Toe Book

At my last station I place my book made out of a toe held by my army friend (g i Joe) = atuejibuk, sounds like that to me…

Then that made me think of 3 familiar places : where my girl gets her toes done, my library, my army friends place. I choose automatically my army friend because It the place I least remember I feel(I am almost always more inclined to use the places I feel remember less because, believe it or not, that where I get surprised the most; it often awakens memories I didn’t know still were in me and that feels awesome!

Then, right in my army friend entrance, "Al "(another friend) jumps out with a big “cam"corder covered in " tuna” fish

Toe Gijoe book Al cam tuna

Atuejibuk al’iiqamat Hina

Do you like it here?

First question I answered above and let me add that there are many tricks to make a durable link to another journey or palace, here I could’ve just as well choose another corner store. I ACTUALLY started using that trick, just jumping from train station to train station or restaurant to restaurant and it works just as well except one time I did it with McDonald and it really caused so many problems because they are all the same and I had filled up many with so much info and pretty much had to start from scratch; :crazy_face: was a nightmare haha but learned from it and started using different ways like splitting an info in two like the gum, or simply just using what I m learning as a guide…

Second question is easy, I never keep track of any journey’s or palaces. I lose the ones I don’t visit enough for good reasons : the info is in my long term memory Or I just needed the info temporarily.

I literally have hundreds I remember perfectly, hundreds I remember partially and as many that are completely gone and it’s ok.

Don’t worry about it, trust me you’ll know they exist if you need them, no tracking necessary.

There is some good advice here. A person has to experiment to find what suits him.

Over the many decades since I was a young man, I have come to realize that keeping mnemonics simple will reap the most benefits. However, simplicity is often hard to accomplish as we can get carried away and before we know it our systems can be needlessly complex.

I have learned several languages. While aware of MP I found them tardy for languages and wondered why a person would use them for such a purpose. I also was aware of using ‘towns’ but also found them unnecessarily draining.

For me a simple (foreign) French word plus English mnemonic supplies me with oodles of vocab and no palace searching. It’s instant.

French to need: avoir besoin
Mnemonic: kneading wire (avoir) in a basin/bassoon or kneeing a basin/bassoon.

Masculine Feminine nouns: is it a man or a woman doing the action?

It worked with prepositions, adjectives in fact everything I needed.

Of course there is more to it but I find this simple approach swift and accurate.

My 10p worth 

Whatever your approach I wish you well

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