Many(and I mean it) useful tips you need to learn massive vocabulary with Mnemonics

Aroung 6 months ago, I’ve started using mnemotechnics to learn german. At that time, I came here and asked for some tips. Everyone tried helping me. The time passed. In the 3 first months I had some personal problems and didn’t studied, but for the last 3 months I was full-time(and I mean full-time) in german language studies.

During this time(3 months, full-time), I’ve memorised 15000 words(I’m interested in “native fluence”), and now i can even read Goethe and Kant without vocabulary problems.(They still are badasses to understand, but i can understand every word they say!)
Out of It, I’ve already studied linguistics and am used to neuroscience, so I take this knowledge in consideration while I give you the tips, in spite of the fact that I will not explicitly refer to them.

Of course, this intensive concentration in language was an interesting process, in which I’ve learned many ways of solving problems. I’ve had the chance to identify many difficulties, and to create solutions. In the following paragraphs, I will try delineating every important points I have discovered, and I do think and hope these tips can help you guys. I’ve read many books that try explaining “mnemotechnics and new languages”, but they all sucks. And sincerely, earning money with this knowledge doesn’t fit my ethical standards. That’s why I will deposit all I’ve discovered here, feel yourself comfortable to distribute it(but NOT for money).

1.So, first of all, about material for learning a new language, and the best way to use them.

If you search in internet, it’s always possible to find, some “vocabulary books”. In general they divide the vocabulary by “subjects”, por example “Corpse parts”, “Works”, etc…

About it, I’ve had an important discovery. The “subject” division isn’t good for those who use mnemothechnics.

Why? because when u are reading texts and you see a word, u will not have the “tip” inside of it, to remember that it belongs to the subject A or B. Because of that, even if you have a specific memory pallace for “Corpse parts”, for example, it won’t work that well. The word will not take you directly to THIS memory pallace, and not OTHER one. And, believe me, when you have 15000 words, it would be difficult to find this word without any clue.

Here, I think people could say: “Yea, but the idea of memory pallaces isn’t that you go to them everytime u see a word. They simply keep your words in a specific place, so that you can revise them from time to time, until u “naturalize” these words and do not need to revise them anymore.”. Yea, I would agree. But if you read or herad something, that’s one of the best ways by with you naturalize words (the "pragmatical use of language as source of words-meaning, from Ludwig Wittgeinstein). If you did not use this chance because u can’t find the word, u have an inneficient method.

What is the solution that works? Alphabetical organization of words, when creating memory pallaces. If they are alphabetically distributed, there is no mistake: If the word starts with “Ab”, it will not be out of “ab words memory pallace”. It is like when you lose a key. If you know you lost it inside your house, you don’t need to look for it in Jupiter, you don’t have to search all the universe. If you lost the meaning of a word, u need to know where to look for it.

If you consider yourself a ■■■■■■■ perseverant bastard, you would do well to substitute the “alphabetical index” for a DICTIONARY. The difference is that the “vocabulary books” choose their words based on “frequency statistics” so you will be learning the most used words. I heard about that chinese man that memorised all the words in big oxford dictionary. Very cool, but not necessary for everyone.

So, in sinthesys, these are my 2 first tips:

1.1.u need to find a “vocabulary” book in which you have a alphabetical organization of words. In general they have it in the end, in a special “index”.

1.2. Once you find this alphabetical index, prepare yourself to memorise the words alphabetically.

  1. Second kind of tips: how to “increace” efficiency of “vocabulary indexes” use?

So, you already have the alphabetical index with you and is almost having an orgasm to start memorising them. Before that, you need to specify your objective.

If you are whiling to have “foreigners fluence” in language, a alphabetical index with something like 4000 words suffice.
If not, you have 2 interesting possibilities:

a) You can do as i did: for every word in the index, i’ve related those with the same “root” or “radical”. For example: bereiten(verb)(prepare, arrange), bereits(adverb)(already) , Bereitschaft(substantive)(availability), Bereitung(substantive)(preparation).

b) you can use the available index you have, and after finishing him(and i mean finishing him like in “mortal combat”), use an other one to “fill up gaps”. In general these alphabetical indexes diverge in something about 15% of the words, so you could get ~1000 thousand with this method.

So, in sinthesys, these are my tips here:

2.1. The way you use your material depends on how far are you whiling to go on the language. Because of that, firstly you need to define your objective, and then, choose the material and the way you use it.

  1. Next point: separating grammatical classes in different memory Pallaces?

The answer for this question: NOOOO, you idiot!!! and YESSS!!!

Here comes why: firstly, our mind works in a associative way, so you can use it in your favor! Like i said before, every words has “radicals” or “roots” that are used for different words(I used the example of bereit-). So, if you put together(or “consecutive to oneanother in the memory pallace”) the words that have the same radical, you will a) save space; b) strenghten words you memorise, because they will be intuitively related one to another.

“Oh Paulo, that’s ■■■■■■■■. So I should put Prepositions, Substantives, Adjetives, verbs, all grammatical classes together?”. Here came, for me, one of the most important conclusions: NOT NECESSARELLY

There are some words that appear all the time, and whose grammatical function we can easy iddentify in a text. These are the Prapositional structures and Connectors. In german, (Konnektoren, Subjunktoren, Verbzweisatz-, Postponierers, Partikelns and Adverbs(some of them, easyly to identify)).

For these ones, it really is useful to have a separated memory pallace, because you use them everywhere and everytime, and by the context u can easely say they are Prapositions, conectors, and not verbs or substantive or adjectives. Once you can say by reading or hearing it, that it is a connector, you can look for it in conectors memory pallace.

Here, one more time: you do NOT have to sub-separate these prapositions and connectors in sub-memory pallaces. Everyone of them goes to the same memory pallace, in alphabetical order. Why: because you don’t need to know if “umso weniger, als…(even more, considering that…)” is a Konjunktor or subjunktor to unterstand its meaning.

In synthesis, these are my tips here:

When memorising vocabulary, you will have JUST 2 types of memory pallaces:

3.1) one type comprehends all words, separated in memory pallaces alphabetically organized: “ab-” until “an-”,an- until “auf”, “auf- until aus-”, for example.

3.2) the other type compreends all conectors and prepositional structures, separeted in memory pallaces alphabelically organized. (In every language they are aproximatedly 400, so you do not need many memory pallaces here).

*here I put a last but really important observation: I recommend this “special memory pallaces for conectors”, but it does not mean that in the “general words memory pallaces” you will not memorize these conectors once again. Yea, you will have these words memorised in 2 different places! If you don’t identify that the word is a connector by reading it, even so you will find her in the “general words pallace”!!! (and no, it will not confuse you between pallaces, making you transfer yourself from one to the other when see these words - sincerely, I thing the people that say that don’t know much about mnemotechnics. If you make the correct connection between suscessive words in your memory pallace, you will never be “transported” to another one.)

3.3.) I call that idea of a specific memory pallace for connectors a “suplementary pallace”. You can have others if you want to. For example, with the base “irregular verbs”(irregular verbs that from which other iregularities derive). The important feat is: 1) they must be in alphabetical order; 2)they are supplementary pallaces, so the same words must be in the “general words pallace”

  1. Last but not least(really, not least!) about using mnemotechnics to identify “specific carachteristics and categories” of words.

Here I’m refering to these characteristics without “rules” that every language has. In this point, I will use german as my reference, because I think using portuguese would be restrictive(YES, I’m Brazilian, we think a lot here too, we do not just play soccer.). But the general points I derive from my considerations apply to any language learn process, and are fundamental.(i will explain de german case, and if you do not want to understand it, you can go to conclusions)

Substantives: In german, there are 3 genres(masculine, feminine and neutral), and, by the word itself, we can just say the genre in 30% of the cases. In 70%, we need some lucky. The same thing goes to plural forms. There are something about 13(with some very very specifical diferences). So we have here 39 possible combinations for substantivs(3x13=39…)

Verbs: there are 4 types of verbs: Irregulars with auxiliar sein, irregulars with auxiliar haben, regular with sein, regulars with haben.

About preppositions, we have the folowing types: 1) with dative casus 2)with akkusative 3)with genitive 4)dative or akkusative 5)dative or genitive 6)akkusative or genitive 7) akkusative, genitive or dative. So, 7 different types(of which, just 4 are more than theoretical)

About connectors, we have 7 types. 1)Konnektoren; 2)Subjunktoren;3)Verbzweisatz,-4)Postponierer, 5)Adberbial Nichtsvorfeld, 6)Adverbial nichsnacherst Position, 6)Adverbial nichtspositionbeschränkt.

These are ALLLLL important divisions to learn german. So, how do we deal with it???

Well, i’ve seen plenty people that separate them in separated memory pallaces. WRONG!!!. Why? Once again, you can’t deduce from external stimulus(reading, hearding) in which categorie they fit! So, if you separate them you will “need to look for the key(meaning) all over the universe.”

In the other way, once you know where the word is, you can use this in your favor. The secret here is: you put “specifying images”, related to each of these categories.
So, every neutral substantive with plural -er , for example, has a common feat or image.(in my case, they relate to “chess”(don’t ask me why)).

For all german language you will need, by my description, 57 “specifying images”, what isn’t all that bad for A ■■■■■■■ WHOLE LANGUAGE!

In syntesis, the points here is:

  1. You use “specifying images” for every characteristics that can’t be deduced from the external stimulus(reading or hearing), and NOT, different pallaces. You can only use different pallaces if they represent characteristics that you can see when you read or hear a word in mivind situations.
    By doing what a suggest, you will always have the “specifical” informations at hand in the moment you find the word in your alphabetical general pallaces. Once these pallaces are alphabetically ordered, it will be really easy to find the words into them.

With that, I conclude my exposition.
My text probably has many mistakes. Well, i’m not british or american or canadian, and didn’t used mnemotechnics for english(yet),so…

Anyway, I’m confident that my method really works better than those in books about “mnemothechnics and languages”, at onse side. At the other side it is more specific than those general methods in books generally related to mnemotechnics. And more important, in my case, ist FREE knowledge!!

If I sounded autoritarian in the text, that’s not the idea. The knowledge is constructed with debates and new Ideas. So if you desagree with any point, or see better ideas and solutions PLEASE talk about it and show me I’m wrong!!! With that, we can really make durable knowledge hier.

If you enjoy my ideas and think they are useful, please share them with everyone who can make good use of it. I really don’t care if you do not use my name, provided that you make it for free.

Bye Guys, thank you for helping me when I needed, I hope this text pay my debt!



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Very useful post! Thanks a lot for writing it. You recommend organizing words in the alphabetical order. In your experience, how does that organization affect your active vocabulary? In my mind (I never remembered so many words, so I’m just speculating) if I would have a palace for all adjectives that describe a personality it would be easier for me to describe a person when I’m speaking or writing and thus I would use a richer active vocabulary. If information is not categorized, then it would be hard for me to find finer distinctions on the fly. I certainly see how indexing alphabetically would ease recall when you encounter a word and would make reading easier.

Or perhaps words over time are digested and absorbed and you can as easily describe the same thing using different synonyms as when you would have those words in a separate palace under one category?

I wanted to use memory palaces to permanently store words in categories mostly as a way to enrich my active vocabulary and to become more eloquent in speech and writing. What is your opinion on that?

Can you please tell your timings? I’m mean your average schedule. How much words did you start with? In what chunks did you remember them and what about breaks and etc? After some time how much time did you spend remembering new words vs how much it took you to revise old ones?

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Hey Cyrbon, thanks for your comments.

So, about your questions and ideas.

In fact I noticed during my studies that there is a trade-off between a storage-method fitted for active actions(speech and writing) and other for passive ones(hearing and reading). You need to choose in which of them will you foccus.

If you choose the first one, then the alphabetical order isn’t necessarily the best choice. In spite of that, I have 2 important points to notice:

Firstly, I use a specifical method that helps me a lot to find a word by “theme” even organizing words alphabetically. In fact, this advantage comes exactly from the fact that the words are alphabetically organized: the consecutive words are thematicaly related. For example: Das Abend(night). Close to it, I have das Abendbrot(dinner), Abendessen(dinner), Abenddämmerung (twilight) and Abendschuh(social shoes). Every each of these words have a relationship with Abend, in direct or figurative way. So, and I say that by my experience, it’s really easy to find them fast.

By “fast”, I mean something like 1 second with lucky, and in the MAXIMUM 15 sec if i never use the word.

Antecipating the exclamation here: indeed, 1 to 15 seconds DON’T permit a normal conversation. That’s when it comes to my second point.

It may be polemic for some people, but for me it’s quite clear: mnemonics are, by definition, not made for active language capabilities. The “function” of mnemotechnics in the language learning process is “to create a huge database”. Not to “make you speak perfectly”. If you close your mind ONLY to mnemotechnics, you we be doing the same mistake of the people who “don’t believe” in mnemonics.

Then u can ask me: so how do we solve the problems of active capabilities? Well, that’s simple. We use other methods and technics. Linguistics existed for many centuries and idiomatic pedagogy is a vexed issue, with many ideas and theories.

I, particularly, am now creating something for this issue, and have MANY hipothesys and FEW results based on some Chomski’s texts, some neuroscience, some cognitive psycology and so on. But while It’s still a working process and involve some difficult studies, I haven’t got many useful conclusions yet.

About revisions. I do revisions in the normal times: immediately after, 1 day after, 1 week, 1 month. But while I memorise around 250 new words pro day, in general I add revisions beforte the 1st night, in 2nd day after and 3rd day after and 15th day after.
I don’t know how much time does it take to revise, never counted. But for the words I learned 1 month ago it take 10 minutes for 1000 thousand, approximatedly. But it could be faster if I want, I think. Our brain works better without pressure, so make it calm, placid.

My memorizing sessions are like this: start memorising without concerns about how many i need to memorise. I simply keep going until I feel my mind is tired. When I see it, I make the first revision and stop. With time, you can memorise 100 words in 1 session of these without problems.
My record in 1 day was something around 400 words. I memmorised all german connectors.
But if you don’t have patience, you COULD learn 1000 words pro tag. but it makes your head hurts. Sincerely, it’s not necessary. I do believe that it is important to enjoy the process… In the start of my memorization sections I’ve pushed myself hard. when I stopped doind it I had the best results.

Out of it, I have an adequate diet for my brain, with fish and A Vitamin and so on. We are what we eat…

And, as I said, I am FULL-TIME, I think that’s one of the reasons it works. And I will stay full time in this issue until february next year(I stopped everithing else, litteraly, even my faculty, for 1 year). My objective is french(cause I want to read Foucault), a better english(for Shakespeare) and greek(for many philosophers), until february. But I really am curious to see if it is possible.

Anyway, good luck, plese tell me if you have any other good questions, suggestions or ideas, i would be glad to hear them!


I am learning German too. Could you tell me where exactly you got your vocabulary from? That would be good.

There is a book named “Langenscheidt Power Wörterbuch”. It is a german german dictionary for foreigners. This is the best basic book to memorise. it’s the same type of book that that chinese memorizer memorised (40000 words or something like that). And, of course, you can choose which words to memorise.

vocabulary books, I used 3: “Langenscheidt “German basic vocabulary””; “Hueber, Learning german words”. “A frequency dictionary for german - the core vocabulary”. But, as I said, in the end, these special dictionaries are better. That is my conclusion nowadays, if I knew that in the beginning I would go direct to it.

For speech comprehension, deutsche welle langsame gesprochene Nachrichten (internetsseite), Lieder of poetry, and lyrics of good musics (like Reinhard Mey).

Grammatik: “Deutsch als Fremdsprache, mittelstuffe und Grundstuffe” von Hueber.

For Conectors, there is a Linguistics book named “Handbuch der deutschen Konnectoren”.

You can find all those books in internet. I found. I reccomend you to buy just the dictionary.

That’s all the material I used, nothing more.

good luck!



I am new to all that, and the forum, but I am actively learning a couple of languages, and have a question about this method:
How do you go about filling in gaps, once you have established the basic alphabetical order? I believe it will be difficult to fill in a word like Biene (bee), if you alreade have Banane and Brot (bread) in your list. Since you said, you sometimes use another dictionary to fill in words, that you had not learned before, I would be interested how you do that. As I said I am new to all this, just working on creating lists and journeys and trying out stuff, that’s probably the reason why I do not understand exactly how to work with your method.

It’s always possible to “create space” fo fill a gap. You can create portals, extend the space, create new areas and so on.

But the ideal, at least for me, is to make a big list of words since the beginning, and then memorise them all. If you make a list of 15000 words there won’t be many situations in which you will see a new word. If it happens, you don’t need necessarily to memorise it with pallaces. It is residual vocabulary, so you just write it down in a phrase, three or four times, and then it will go to your passiv vocabulary data. The function of mnemotechnics in the learning of a new language is MASSIVE accumulation of vocabulary. For residual words, it is best to learn just by reading, hearing, writing, etc…

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Hi Paulo Palma,
Your article is very useful for me. Thank you very much !
You said you learnt 15000 vocabulary. So, you will need a large memory palace. How do you build memory palace ?

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Thanks for the tips. I’ll link to this thread in the upcoming newsletter.


Hi truongtamgio.

I normally use the places around my house. My travel starts in my room, and then i go through all the house, then through all near places, and keep going and entering in every single place that I already entered in my life. The details of the street work well for me, too. If I know a place in details I can keep many words; If I don’t, just some. I don’t have many memory pallaces but a giant one, with many divisions or “check points” (ab-, ach-am, an-,ap-au,auf-,aus-az,ba-be, and so on.). Normally i see all the places as giant ones, so I can keep many words there. For example, on the table of my room I’ve got 13 words. 4 in the corners, then 3 around the books and 1 over them, jumping, and the other 5 interacting with my PC.


Hey Josh, Thanks. I hope that the people find many problems so we can develop these ideas to create better and better methods.


Very cool to read this as I have made similar discoveries.

People learning foreign languages, German or otherwise, should look into monolingual dictionaries as soon as possible so that you’re looking up the meanings of the words in the target language. Use children’s dictionaries if you have to, but make that leap a.s.a.p.


Hi Paulo Palma,

Previously, I use Country Strike game to create memory palaces. It works well but I am lazy to play it :D. So, I use real memory palace but memory palaces is not enough because of 1 image representing 1 data. Finally, I use houzz app which has huge rooms. I link rooms (living room, bath room, kitchen room, bed room,…) to completed houses and use it to memory vocabulary. And it works very well. With information you give me, I will use 1 image for many data. So, I will save memory palaces. Do you have any advice for me ?

Thank you very much, Paulo Palma ! Your information help me a lot. Sorry for my poor English !


I didn’t knew the houzz app, but googled here. Very useful, no doubt. I will incorporate in my “pallace sources”. Really interesting, thanks for sharing.

Just as an example, I say the kitchen in the main page of that site. There was in the corner 3 greenn bottles. I would try keeping 1 word inside of each, then 1 jumping over then, jumping, and them 3 around them. It woul ive us 9 informations in a place that normally the people don’t even use.(because its just a place in the counter of the kitchen). But if you imagine that you are a mouse, running through a giant room(in fact, there is a counter strike phase in which your are at the size of a mouse), then you will be able to storage many more words. Just pay attention to not “over memorise” in small places. It’s up to you to decide how many words you can storage in a place without loosing quality. And it’s really important to revise, that’s when the magic (long-term memory) happens


Hi, Paulo.

Great achievement! I’m impressed!
Im not a pro in the matter of mnemonics, but also im not a newbie. I used mnemonics to improve my english vocabulary. I would like to ask why it’s not enough just to make a hook betwen two words: English and German. Why do we need a palace for that? I discovered that sometimes if I hear a word Ive already memorised, and I still bear it in my mind strongly it don’t wont to trigger. So I started to think, and problem was in: it was triggering for example in english but not in for example German. I started to do bipolar hooks, and it just work great.
So what advantage gives me palace? Im trully interested.



Each method has its pros and cons

You are referring to linking English words to German words
Linking is a very useful method, but overall more time consuming
In order to link 15,000 words, it would take a lot of time and a lot of reviewing to remember that many links
But I believe linking would be better for conversational use, for instance to learn the top 1000 conversational words in a new language

Paulo’s method of massive memory palace is based on alphabetical order
He is able to store 100-400 words in one day
This method is better for QUICK MASSIVE information
He states that it takes 1-15 seconds for retrieval, so wouldn’t be as good for conversational use
But his method is better to learn quickly (15,000 words in 3 months is crazy!!!)
and should be fine for a person who might want to read vs converse in the language

Paulo-thanks for sharing your methods with us
Are you considering learning an additional method?
If so, would you set up your system in a similar way, and just use a separate palace?



Hi, Ray.

U might be right. I was never in hurry in learning english. So I was never learning more than 100 words a day. But mostly vocabulary came to me very naturally. I think that a really huge advantage of Paulo’s method appears a specially if u want start to read books in direct language really fast(he mentioned about it but not in that context) . Synergistic effect should be awsome. Mnemonics affect vocabulary to destroy any book. Reading book affect fluency, a specially reading aloud.
It looks pretty complete for me.


You were able to link up to 100 words a day?
That is also pretty impressive
good job
How many total words do you have in your english palace?

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