Language learning for people who have trouble visualizing

I have a lot of trouble visualizing. I’ve been trying memory palaces, but creating them is not easy as I have trouble visualizing it. It sometimes takes me hours (I’m sure I’m doing something wrong).

I believe I may have Aphantasia, but have never been tested for it.

Is there anything that’s highly recommended? I don’t mind spending money on something that is good either, so if there’s any big recommendations, please share.

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Define what you mean by spending money on something, are you talking about a book?

Verbal learning with spaced repetition. You can make verbal processing more memorable by giving explanations for things even if not truthful. E.g the sky is blue because of the reflection of the sea is false but will help you memorize that it is blue. Something like this particularly works for language, though you can keep it more logical.

Firstly though check if you have aphantasia:
Try visualising an apple , does it come to your head/mind? Try looking at something, closing your eyes and visualising that something briefly, does this work? If any of them work you can get better at it by increasing the difficulty gradually.

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There are several sites that recommend some simple tests:
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Can you visualize your own mother? That seems to be an acid test. (Of course, that test might not be valid if a person is estranged from their mother.)

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Welcome! I had also a lot of trouble visualizing. If you know you have trouble visualizing then I would suggest you don’t worry about having a aphantasia and just have Faith that you can develop it.

What helped me tremendously was getting The habit to draw simple things like a child . It might not seem helpful but it really did help me develop my visualization. I think that, as I created these characters and animals and simple things with the pencil, my mind needed to visualize somewhat to finally manage to create my own version of it. It was never a hundred percent logical is what I am saying.

Also, visualization exercises to get out of stressful times, like trying to imagine a loved one, perhaps a souvenir, a friend’s home or birthday party, the time I bungeejumped or last saw my best friend… I like to close my eyes and relive the moment I helped my nephew ride his bike, his smile, him jumping in my arms. Sometimes try to see how was my childhood home, my first girfriend doing something she loves… very personal things at first just letting myself go…

Through these I learned of myself that I did not have the best observation skills, which I learned goes hand-in-hand with visualization.

Googling develop observation skills brings up a lot of exercises for that.

I think what was really necessary was find a way to get away from are the pressure and stress when not succeeding. Then little by little, even if faded, images and places can be successfully used for memorizing in a Memory Palace, but that also takes a lot of different skills to be developed, a lot of time and practice.

The free website readspeeder, where you are taught to read in images helped me tremendously also and I strongly recommended with as many 5-15 minutes sessions possible per day. This actually improved my reading tremendously, as well as significantly developed my visualization. Woooo too much adjectives ! :dizzy_face: but the truth…

To a lesser degree, but definitely without which I wouldn’t not I’ve made it, other people’s examples helped me a lot. Like the ones of Dominic O’Brien, his audiobook ( sorry I don’t remember the name) being the one that created a Eureka moment for me and managed to get me to believe in the memory palace, with a simple guided memory Journey. Alex Mullen or Nelson dellis YouTube videos also.

I had to give up countless times and during just as many months before I finally managed to break through to using palaces successfully and satisfactorily.

Starting with just about the simplest and least amount of images that you can think of. For example, let’s say place in huge smashed up apple on your bed, a jumping banana shaped fridge instead of your fridge, have a hippopotamus take a bite out of it and an elephant acting as a stove putting out your burning turkey with its trump…

Play around, have fun, and you’ll be starting to make images out of more and more complex things. You can find amazing and countless examples on this forum.

Today I use them daily.

Perhaps if you would share with us your process with more detail.

Cheers! And welcome again to the forum!

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Book, course, anything that can help me to learn easier.

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I cannot visualize my mother, dog, and gf.

However, I do dream about them sometimes. I can pick up small things as well, such as maybe the ears of the dog.

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As far as I know most people who claim to have ‘aphantasia’ dream and often vividly - unconcious visualization isn’t a problem. Whether aphantasia even exists or whether you suffer from it isn’t the issue and you mustn’t make it into one. All that is necessary IMNSHO is that you THINK. In your head you ‘say’ to yourself “so on that loci Blondie (an 80s rock/pop singer) is being hanged from a red telephone while she whistles ‘Dixie’” and eats a burger" . Whether you can ‘see’ it on the back of your eyelids is unimportant.

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I’ve given a link to a Quora post. Note that the poster is a hypnotherapist - not an Aphantasia sufferer.

She says that some people who dream are unable to visualize while awake. Reason: they might be in a state of tension while awake. In other words, they are not relaxed.
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https://bit.ly/2RhHJ3t
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The Quora poster gives three exercises that you can try.

She’s a hypnotherapist, so I’m surprised that she didn’t mention self-hypnosis (SH).

I used to suffer from insomnia. I’ve had encouraging success with SH. I now hardly ever have nightmares.

SH is impossible unless you’re relaxed. So, if you can teach yourself to relax while you’re awake, SH might help you to visualize something in the last few seconds just before you fall asleep - even just a dog’s ear.

You might need a couple of sessions with a hypnotherapist just to prepare you for your own SH. Third-party hypnotism is much more powerful than SH, because with SH you need to remain partly awake in order to give yourself the instructions. (Damn - I nearly forgot that :grin:)

I hope you will give it a try.

Thanks.

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The link below says that “verbal links” can be “equally effective”:

  • Most mnemonic strategies use visual images. But as I say in The myth of imagery, while there is no doubt that imagery can be an effective tool, there is nothing particularly special about it. The advantage of imagery is that it provides an easy way of connecting information that is not otherwise readily connected. However, providing verbal links can be equally effective.
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    http://www.mempowered.com/mnemonics/visual-vs-verbal-mnemonic-techniques
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    Thanks.
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I would agree with that, especially if someone who’s unable to mentally visualize (I can’t remember the word for this condition offhand) wants to use mnemonics.

Children in English-speaking countries generally learn the order of English alphabet through a verbal linking method, putting the order of the letters to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. The article said older adults might have an easier time learning using verbal mnemonics instead of visual, and people with dementia usually have better musical memory than memory of other types. For example, my grandmother suffered from dementia in her later years, and couldn’t recognize much of her own family, but could still remember plenty of hymns.

Visual imagery is a method I’d consider the traditional, tried-and-true mnemonic method, but alternatives can work.

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I have aphantasia. I can’t get an image of my mother’s face, nor anything else. All I see on the back of my eyes is grey mush. I also don’t dream, other than occasionally some concept of running or thinking things. I often find films difficult because I can’t retain an image of a character and get them all confused. But I don’t find any of that a major issue with memorisation.

I use over 1000 locations in my memory palaces all the time. Some of those are for language learning (French and Mandarin). I have also always described what I do as using “images” and so on, not aware that other people actually saw those images. I conceive of them, but only have a vague image somewhere up the back of my brain that i can’t actually see. I really struggle to describe it.

One thing that I notice that I do more than many others is that I only use physical places and visit them as I memorise. I can go over my palaces in memory, but I tend to use logical links to keep them in order. I set them up very carefully, with each fifth location very clearly marked - usually a road or laneway if I am out and about - or a doorway in the house. If there are more or less than four houses / shops between the roads, I will leave one out or use a garage or tree to add an extra location. That way I know exactly how many locations are in between key locations. The numbering is very important to help me.

I also use little notebooks which I can keep in a pocket or handbag to record the palaces initially along with some key identifier of each location … a bush, funny chimney, wall tile … I will use that notebook as I get to know the palace, but then don’t need it anymore. I suspect those with a better visual memory may not need that. I don’t know - I’ve only ever been me!

I have 1000 digits of pi in 1000/6 = 167 locations (POA - Persona Action Object at each location, using the two-digit Dominic System for each person.) I don’t need my notebook nor to physically visit those locations any more. It probably took me longer than others - my natural memory has always been appalling - but my palaces are working really well.

I use a number of memory palaces for French verbs and nouns - including ‘gender zones’ as suggested by Dominic O’Brien. My newest palace is for the 200+ radicals in Chinese characters. Much as I use palaces for French vocab, I am using different techniques for Mandarin vocabulary because it is so very different to learn.

I use logical stories much more than I think many others do. Ngime mentioned using explanations, and I use that a lot. If I cannot make something rational (often using false explanations as suggested) then I find it much harder to remember.

So my advice would be to use real physical memory palaces which you can actually visit as you memorise and keep a notebook of them initially.

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I don’t have aphantasia, but I used to be unable to visualize my parents. I realized that I could visualize a specific photograph of them though. So I started practicing by recalling the photo and then trying to picture them in other contexts.

I also practiced an exercise where I would look at a person’s face while passing them on the street, then I would close my eyes and try to hold the visual impression of the face in my mind.

Eventually, I was able to visualize my parents without visualizing the photo first.

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Amazing determination. Well done.

The following NYT article was among the first to report on the new name “aphantasia”:

At the end of the article, there’s an email address of the researcher. Although you don’t have aphantasia, he might be interested in your tortuous, roundabout methodology that helped you to visualize your parents.

Thanks.

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This tiny article helps me understand how drawing helped me start visualizing, or believing that I’m visualizing.

The thing is, the more I think about it and close my eyes to see something, the less I think I do, and the more I realize that I can’t really see anything; yeah I know, contradictory. It’s just black! but I can imagine anything by creating (drawing)and thinking about it, but no, when I close my eyes, I just see nothing.

All this aphantasia talk and reading is forcing me to doubt my ability to visualize.

I guess all my life I just thought that visualizing was thinking and vice versa.

Can you guys actually close her eyes and see something ?

Anybody else having doubts about weather they can visualize or not?

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If you can remember what is in your house and where it is located then you can use memory palaces.

Vision isn’t the only memorable sense. My most memorable mode isn’t vision, it’s thought - especially the recognition of oddity.

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