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Thread: Method of Loci

  1. #1
    mike
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    Method of Loci

    After reading an article this morning in the BBC about this practice I was very intrigued and immediately realized that if it worked I could use it for studying and memorization in foreign language. So I created a few experiments comparing rote memorization versus locuses already in my long-term memory and discovered the following:

    Prior to trying this with actual words I did a few tests with numbers. The conclusion of these tests was that I was able to juggle 3 lists of 20 random numbers between 1 and 999 without error in their original order. That is not to say I was limited to repeating them only in order. If I did not want to include a number I simply "walked around" an item so to speak. BTW if you do not know what the hell I am talking about then I will explain in the paragraph after next.

    First I took five verbs and five nouns and listed their conjugations (or declensions) and proper stresses. I then performed the Rote Test. It took me about 5m14s to feel comfortable enough to test my memory. I made 2 to 3 errors per word when I attempted to copy the list from memory. I should note that for all of these tests I purposely did not use the knowledge of conjugating and declining that I already knew. I just wrote down whether or not I honestly remembered what I had read from the list without thinking of the grammatical rules for the gender and stem endings and so on.

    Second I took another five verbs and five nouns as before. This time I used the Method of Loci, attributing each word to a place I was very familiar with and its conjugation/declension to an item or thing in this place. I started small, by only trying it with one word. After 1m2s I felt comfortable with the word and tried to write it down (including stresses). I succeeded with no errors and I barely had to think about it at all. I just imagined walking through this area (one of the first apartments I lived in) and immediately recalled all of the conjugations. I was curious if I could manage two lists, and tried a noun. This time, already understanding how the process works, I was comfortable with my memory map after only 34s. I tried to write down both lists and it took only 2 or 3 seconds to make each. I proceeded to memorize the rest, and although it took me considerably longer to feel comfortable with the list (compare 10m28s to 5m14s for rote memorization), I was able to easily recall all of the tables.

    Third, I went and had my twentieth cup of coffee for the day and came back when the timer on my watch was around 4m58s (eh close enough). I tested myself again and still was able to write down the full listings for all 10 words without any pausing or mistakes. I could not, however, remember more than one or two of even the infinitive/nominative forms of the words I chose for the first experiment. Of course, one cannot make any judgments about this as most of this information had been pushed out of my brain by the second experiment.

    My conclusion: if you have a vocabulary test or something I highly recommend trying this approach to memorizing the words (it is probably even more efficient for memorizing just the lists of words rather than full tables of conjugations; I am sure with this method I could memorize several dozen within 10-15 minutes). As far as I have so far been able to tell it is an astonishingly efficient replacement for rote learning of boring data.



    PS: It has now been 12 hours since I did this test and I still remember all of them!

  2. #2
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    That Method of Loci thing doesn't work particularly well for those of us that aren't visual learners, I think. I've tried it, and I just end up getting, well, mentally lost

  3. #3
    mike
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    Well, that's weird. It works perfectly for me. I've only been trying it for a day and I can already remember the order of a deck of cards after 30 minutes of studying them. Maybe you just aren't doing it right. The way I made it more efficient was to use objects that were part of the environment itself rather than just furniture and appliances. Assigning the doors, stairways and banisters, carpets and light bulbs et al their own value practically doubled my ability to fit as much data as possible into each room. I just put each word or number (or suit and value for the cards) on the item in big cartoony letters and whisper it to myself. Like on the stairs I'd have "4192" stretching upwards across them. That was a lot easier than just pairing the data to the items in a cold way. Start with the first three, then add the fourth, recite it a couple of times, add the fifth, and so on until you can choose any item at random and call up the data attributed to it. It is like having a big associative array in your brain. The only problem is that when I walk around the apartment now I unwillingly remember the data as I go past each item paired with it. It is kind of annoying to see the washing machine and my brain goes "997!!!!"

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    That's weird. But how do you remember words like 'otherwise' 'perfectly' 'hate' etc.?
    Ahaa. Got you there, didn't I?
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    I'm sorry to sound encredibly fudging stupid, but mike, what exactly do u mean ? it sounds interesting and i want to try it... i think you mean for example take the word "Шмель" and think of an old car... then everytime you try to remember the word for "Bumble bee" just think of an old car and it will pop into your head ?? maybe you could demonstrate an easy example ?? how about these words ...

    Безпокоить
    Одевать
    подмышка
    Капля
    Спорить
    сетка
    птица
    клетка

    Hmm, well i already know all of these words, so maybe i should have chose words i don't know to start with... oh well, can you show me an example of what you mean exaclty ?
    Вот это да, я так люблю себя. И сегодня я люблю себя, ещё больше чем вчера, а завтра я буду любить себя to ещё больше чем сегодня. Тем что происходит,я вполне доволен!

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by mike
    The only problem is that when I walk around the apartment now I unwillingly remember the data as I go past each item paired with it. It is kind of annoying to see the washing machine and my brain goes "997!!!!"
    Although I am not familiar with the method in details I suspect how it works. If I suspect correctly then the problem that you described is not only a problem but it will most likely have other negative effects on your thinking. Since this seems to be too artificial "intrusion" in your brain one should be very carefull about such methods. The method is too powerfull to play around with it.
    ~ Мастерадминов Мастерадмин Мастерадминович ~

  7. #7
    mike
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jasper May
    That's weird. But how do you remember words like 'otherwise' 'perfectly' 'hate' etc.?
    Ahaa. Got you there, didn't I?
    I do not understand what you mean..

    Quote Originally Posted by Dogboy182
    I'm sorry to sound encredibly fudging stupid, but mike, what exactly do u mean ? it sounds interesting and i want to try it... i think you mean for example take the word "Шмель" and think of an old car... then everytime you try to remember the word for "Bumble bee" just think of an old car and it will pop into your head ?? maybe you could demonstrate an easy example ?? how about these words ...

    Безпокоить
    Одевать
    подмышка
    Капля
    Спорить
    сетка
    птица
    клетка

    Hmm, well i already know all of these words, so maybe i should have chose words i don't know to start with... oh well, can you show me an example of what you mean exaclty ?
    Well there are different ways to go about it. I have only been playing with it for two days so I am not really experienced enough to give you an authoritative answer, but I will explain the way I do it and seems to work for me.

    Think of some place you go through so often that you can think of it in your mind. If it's a road, can you remember where all the shops and signs and trees and garbage cans and things are? If it's a house do you know where all of the furniture is? Find someplace where you are familiar with the surroundings enough to be able to loosely sketch it if you had to. This means that the place is in your long-term memory.

    Now make a list of things that stand out along the route you walk through this area equal in number to the things you're trying to remember (8 here) and assign a word to each of these items. Let's say you start at the front door.

    Front door - Безпокоить

    Now you're in the living room

    Couch - Одевать
    Television - подмышка

    We could keep going but let's for the sake of example move on by turning to the right and walking into the kitchen

    Stove - Капля
    Refrigerator - Спорить

    Now go back through the living room and into the bedroom

    Bed - сетка
    Armoire - птица
    Closet - клетка

    Now put each word on the item. I would not recommend imagining the symbol that the word represents because you will possibly not remember the spelling or what the word even is. I can't say for sure as I've never tried it this way.

    I am not suggesting you use this to memorize the entire language. I just meant if you have a test in two days or something and you can't remember the vocabulary list to save your life you might want to try it.

    Apparently medieval churches were designed with the Method of Loci in mind so that the monks could easily remember sermons and prayers and such by attributing parts of them to objects that stood out from the surrounding room as they walked through the edifice.

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    Oh, I thought you put e.g. the word for 'refrigerator' on the refrigerator, 'window' on the window etc. That's why I asked what you would do with those abstract words.
    But now I understand.
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  9. #9
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    Sounds kind of creepy to me. But also intriguing. I might try it.
    Where's the "Mysterious Rider" when I need him?

    Could you link to the article?

  10. #10
    mike
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    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/3152502.stm

    Sorry about the crappy explanation above. I was writing it when I should've already been out the door and had to hit enter as soon as I could get to a punctuation mark.

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    I tried it, and it worked - too well. It's actually scary to me. How long does this stuff last? I'm afraid I'll remember things I shouldn't. Have to be careful here...

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    can you assign more than word to an object ? i mean, i wont assign 27 things to the microwave... but can you do 3 or 4 ? (maybe i should read the article ?! ... I'll do it now).
    Вот это да, я так люблю себя. И сегодня я люблю себя, ещё больше чем вчера, а завтра я буду любить себя to ещё больше чем сегодня. Тем что происходит,я вполне доволен!

  13. #13
    Administrator MasterAdmin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pravit
    I tried it, and it worked - too well. It's actually scary to me. How long does this stuff last? I'm afraid I'll remember things I shouldn't. Have to be careful here...
    Do you guys remember the words in the order? Say, if you learn 100 new Russian words and "рука" was the 56th word in the sequence then should you run through the 55 preceding words to access the 56th if someone asks you what "рука" means?
    ~ Мастерадминов Мастерадмин Мастерадминович ~

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    Let me expand by asking, so, рука is the 56th word... but how does this help you know that рука means arm ? it might help memorizing mass amounts of russian words, but whats the trick for the english side of it ? No use in Я сламаль мою руку if you only know what order ruka came in... not what it means.
    Вот это да, я так люблю себя. И сегодня я люблю себя, ещё больше чем вчера, а завтра я буду любить себя to ещё больше чем сегодня. Тем что происходит,я вполне доволен!

  15. #15
    Administrator MasterAdmin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dogboy182
    Let me expand by asking, so, рука is the 56th word... but how does this help you know that рука means arm ? it might help memorizing mass amounts of russian words, but whats the trick for the english side of it ? No use in Я сламаль мою руку if you only know what order ruka came in... not what it means.
    After all, I think there's a three-way connection. So if you want to remember the order of words then you connect these words to objects first. Then you just go on a walk mentally and place objects in certain places on your walking route. Now if you go on a walk mentally again then the objects that you placed before pop up and they, in turn, trigger the words related to the objects. If that's right then perhaps it doesn't matter whether you go on a walk next time or not. You would just recall the word related to a specific object. Then it would make sense that if you hear "рука" then your mind triggers it's translation. But these are just my guesses 'cause I haven't tried the method myself yet... it's scary
    ~ Мастерадминов Мастерадмин Мастерадминович ~

  16. #16
    mike
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dogboy182
    can you assign more than word to an object ? i mean, i wont assign 27 things to the microwave... but can you do 3 or 4 ? (maybe i should read the article ?! ... I'll do it now).
    Yes, you can. I used it to memorize the personal pronouns in Nominative, Accusative and Dative form for my German studies. My basement door is "ich mich mir," and the pile of junk at the bottom of the stairs is "ihr euch euch" etc.

    To answer the questions about remembering what рука means I would suggest the following:

    1. Break up the list. It seems kind of insane to have 56 items in a single list. I can remember the words or I can remember the items, but if you asked me for the translation of the fifth word in the list then I have no idea. I don't bother to memorize indices.

    2. Put them in order by the English word (or whatever language is your native tongue), not the Russian one. It is much easier to think of рука by remembering arm than to think of arm by remembering рука.

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