Journal - Learning German as my first Memory Palace Project

It is a wide range. People with a typical college grad vocab are not happy reading Edwardian and even Victorian English. But someone with a lot of literature in their background has typically around 60,000 words. At that speed, you may have to look up a word or two a page, but the language will flow for you. Then you have engineers and the like whose communication skills are not the stuff of legend.

I have a family member who is an editor. I have not yet succeeded in finding a word that stumps her - even if she doesn’t know, her guess is too good.

1 Like

Hey how did you send this in a way that the video shows in the comment?

I copy-pasted the link as a address, it formatted automatically.

1 Like

Commenting instead of vlogging today.

Consistency is key.

I went yesterday and today out and about, building my palace. Three things are becoming evident:

  1. Yes, like all skills, this takes time to build. Well, I’ll speak for myself only and say that memorizing just 22 words doesn’t come easy. I have to work at it.
  2. It is important to keep things organized in the Palace. An early snag I ran into was caused by the attempted use of unmemorable loci, confused my head and ensured next to nothing was memorized.
  3. It is painfully obvious too that I am still early in this skill. It is often tricky to come up with associative images for the words I am trying to memorize, and I have read on many sources that this is something that improves with time.
  4. (I’m on a roll) I had my doubts that this time-tested and thoroughly chronicled art for memorization worked, but now that I have experienced it myself, I have no doubts and I am even more energized to develop this skill.

I read in a post the guidance to go out somewhere, commit the place to memory, and then, from memory, place loci in the place as a way to build a Memory Palace.

I don’t trust my ability to recall enough that I can abstract the Palace to two layers. I build my palace by going out to where it physically exists with my vocabulary book in hand, and stare attentively at my loci of choice as I place my exaggerated imaginations on them.

People walking by definitely think I’m crazy. Fortunately, not many go by where my Palace exists. The thought of looking crazy definitely fed my procrastination of weeks past for daily practice, but (as you might imagine), the more I go out there, the less I am phased by looking crazy.

I am finding it of integral importance to organize the palace properly, even to structure my daily practice. By that, I mean that before starting practice, I am finding it important to both count the number of words to be memorized and to identify memorable loci.

On another thought: meeting my limitations to recall and to raise my Palace is instigating the need to read further on mnemothenics in order to improve my skills. This is the burden of the eclectic man: there are so many things that grab my attention - God, fitness, cooking, programming, finance, to name a few - to fit yet another task to nurture yet another dimension in life seems daunting. The Renaissance man of decorum is lauded, and for good reason. It begs the question how the artists among us with heavy burdens - families, in particular - manage their art.

Mind you, I do not see this memory art as a hobby, but as an integral portion of my development to become the man I envision for myself.


I’d actually advise not looking at the loci you’re going to use, when you look at it you’re trying to see a sort of image over your loci. What you want to do is to be completely in your mind when you’re seeing the palace, completely reconstructing it like a 3D video game, seeing it from all angles in your mind. From experience whenever I tried to do what you’re doing I remember like 30-40% vs 95% if you try to fully construct it in your mind. I think it’s something to do with you using your memory for places when you reconstruct it versus your visual memory. That’s just a guess and other people will obviously have different opinions on my advice here


When I started using memory palaces, I made the mistake of thinking that the palace has to closely resemble the real place, but that‘s not necessary. Nowadays, I just go out and walk through a space, then I go through it in my mind when I‘m at home. The locations that I don‘t remember were too weak anyway, so I don‘t bother trying go make the palace perfect. The locations that your brain saves in your memory naturally, without much effort, usually work better, than the ones you had to commit to memory with effort.
What I‘m trying to say is: Try no to be too perfectionistic, it will only slow down your progress (this has been tough for me in the beginning, since I am usually too perfectionistic).


Hey Mcnallymemory, I would also love your 1000 most used alphabetical word list and the PDF frequency dictionary if you are willing to send a copy my way! I also tried to learn based on the category and the task was daunting and I quickly stopped studying German. I am definitely going to test the alphabetical way! I already have a memory palace devoted to alphabetical objects such as birds, animals, and fruits and they were easier for me to conjure and I have the structure set up for this method already. Really good idea, so thanks again.



Ich bin Nandan , ich möchten etwas sprachen.

etwas strange ist happening wann ich started to learn Deutch, ich bin fähig more Deutch words , Der other day ich was browsing and came across “Ein oder mehrere Felder sind fehlerhaft. Bitte überprüfe sie und versuche es noch einmal” und ich was stunned at how much ich could verstehe from that line. Completely memorized about 700 words and on a break .

love reading the discussions hier.

Bitte continue.



I want to thank you for mentioning the Linkword program. I looked it up, purchased it and it’s fantastic! I started a list of all the words for review including the visuals that I change. I just finished two days of driving while listening to the mp3s, so those will have to be reviewed. I have a few nit-picky criticisms, but it’s a good start and I’m a lot farther than with any other language program I’ve tried. Thanks!!

1 Like

Glad i was oh help!

Now combine that with memory palace and you will be blown away with the results.

on my way to reach 2000 words now and started to feel that may be in ther next one month i should be able to converse …i dont know.

Another thing i am trying is a suggestion from a friend of mine who is a polygot and he suggested i start learning three languages at a time and things will flow faster .

I am not brave enough to start three so i started with spanish last week and hell yeah German words come more natural now …

1 Like

Folks, I am sorry I have orphaned this thread. I felt forced to pause this project and give precedence to something else for the while.

1 Like

I wasn’t planning on picking this back up so soon, but here I am.

Pressure to learn German has got to me again, so I am picking this back up.

Since it’s been a while, I went back to the beginning of my Bildworterbuch. The last two days, I’ve been reading “Moonwalking with Einstein”. A brief note on the book: I suppose it gets to marks for narration, but it really feels unnecessarily verbose quite often, even when considering that it was intended as a narration book all along.

I did come away with some useful stuff, though I only read about 5.5 chapters. The most important point of correction is that, as McNally and SilvioB alluded to earlier, perfectionism is counterproductive. Instead of going outside and trying to burn images into live loci, I did what Josh Foer was told to do and went back into the apartment I grew up in. I have also slowed down the pace of practice, so I make sure the imagery I am using is so memorable that all I have to think about is where in the memory palace I am, not what I put in that part of the memory palace that I find myself. I was definitely doing the latter before, when I tried being perfectionist.

In about 20 mins of practice today, I memorized 8 words - lightning speed! I’m hoping that things really do speed up with practice.


Schön geschrieben, werter Alvaro Neto

1 Like

About 30 min practice today (a bit more than that) and I memorized 18 words.

An excerpt from “Moonwalking with Einstein”: “When forming images, it helps to have a dirty mind. Evolution has programmed our brains to find two things particularly interesting, and therefore memorable: jokes and sex”.

I let my memory run wild today (more like, I pushed it wild). Time will tell if my mind is dirty enough.

Any suggestions on how to improve the ability to build memory palaces? My understanding is that the difference between novices and memory experts is that the experts are able to conjure unforgettable, associative images far quicker than novices. All suggestions are welcome.

1 Like

To whom ever is interested in learning German, this is what I used, along other things.

Its a frequency dictionary I used way back. Lucky for us it’s in public domain. It’s really really good in my opinion. At the end of it is alphabetical. Examples are not translated and it’s a good thing, well it was for me.


Thanks for this, cameri. How did you use it? I could consider this a better tool to use for this project of mine.

Practiced for 30 minutes today, added 10 new words to the Palace. At this point, my processing time per word is varying (obviously) and it also varies with nouns and adjectives.

One approach that I employed a few times is to assign a given word to a person as a name, and imagine the person repeatedly screaming his/her name while doing something fantastical. It’s a workaround to attaching words to phonetically similar objects, we will see if it works?


This reply could be much more, will happily answer any questions.

I went on as usual, adding whatever each single word (the pronounciation, not the writing) made me think of, yet focusing on the meaning at the same time for the story, not the word. I’ve learned this works much better than focusing on the word, which always ends up being learned as long as there is a healthy dose of review and added (as necessary ) images to the palace with every review; hopefully these come from the frequency list examples.

Also, I started by using the alphabetical list at the end of the book, then moved on to the frequency lists to add on my palaces.

Every time I encountered something that was repetitive, I included an image for that. Examples :crazy_face:

Beginning of word :
























I never needed to plan different palaces for these. One image to introduce “ENT” (an army of ants) will naturally end when and ambulance appears with its dirt, smoke and lights (ER)

Also making up images for the following has helped :


I strongly suggest to make as little effort as possible to find images for the words or above bigrams and trigrams.

Putting more effort into listening, parroting (be a parrot!), thinking of the meaning, getting to real sentences as fast as possible.

Example Zugriff

First thing that came to mind was grief, crying woman behind hospital door. Don’t need to think of Zu because the woman is put in the zoo section made already. "Behind the door " was enough to remind me on next review that it was for the word ‘access’

Oh! And when I reached any palace’s end I just make a simple association between it and the next palace to be used. Worked flawlessly.

P.S take the time to quickly go through the book first. It is much more than one list, you have a verb list you can build on, as well as a frequency conjunction list, collocation list, prepositions, etc.

Okay, so reviews are to be expected… Early on, I shouldn’t force words to stick first time, is that correct?

After taking the weekend off, today was something of a disaster. I got 5 words in, and I’m not sure they even stuck.

Exactly, and you’ll be surprised how many youll still get right. The first letters are already known, many bigrams and trigrams already have their image. There isnt much left to make up to place in the location. Also, the skill to guess is developed in this manner and has boosted my language learning significantly.

Wow I still remember my main images even if I don’t need them anymore, that’s just to say how many times I’ve used them… example : ei = Popeye! Hun= big Attila monument from HUNgary (used live there). Actually, now that I think about it, I remember them all. Hahaha good memories!!!