The Memory Palace technique also known as the Method of loci (loci being Latin for “Palaces) is a method of memory enhancement which uses visualizations with the use of spatial memory, familiar information about one’s environment, to quickly and efficiently recall information. [en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Method_of_loci]
To begin this approach it is necessary to memorize the blueprint of some building, or the arrangement of shops on a street or in a mall, or any geographical item which is made up of a number of individual loci (rooms, stores etc.). When memorizing a set of terms, just imagine walking through these individual loci and associate a term to each one by forming an image between the item and any feature of that locus. Retrieval of items is managed by ‘walking’ through the loci, allowing the created association to activate memory.
Begin by choosing your palace.
Make this a place you are extremely familiar with. Perhaps a childhood home, mall where you always shop, or your route you follow to go to work.
List your specific route
Don’t just imagine a static scene. Imagine walking up to the front door, opening the door, stepping into the house, looking down at the barking dog, then looking at the cat on the counter, picking up the cat and placing her on the floor then looking right – seeing the refrigerator and looking left and seeing an old world map.
List Distinctive Features
Analyze the room methodically. Look at any pictures that are hanging, where are the appliances located, and what furniture is in that room (loci). Note whatever you find relevant.
Memorize your Palace
Make sure you know the layout of your palace like you know the back of your hand. If necessary, physically walk through your route noting out loud any distinctive features or simply write down your route and features until it is all committed to memory. Remember, while walking through your route always look at features from the same direction.
Associate terms and features
Associate terms that you want to memorize with your palace and its features. Remember to make the association as ludicrous as possible. The funnier the association is the easier it will be to remember it.
Now let’s practice.
Here are my vocabulary words. I chose words from the story “Cinderella”.
Fairy godmother – Hada Madrina
Wand varita mágica
Step sisters las hermanastras
Prince el príncipe
Slipper los zapatitos
Let’s pretend this is my palace. Now let’s create a story with associations in order to memorize the vocabulary.
I walk into the house through a door off of the kitchen. I look straight ahead and I notice the mail on the counter. In the mail is un invitación del príncipe. El príncipe is inviting us to a baile. I look to the left, in the living room and remember when my mother used to have bailes. I notice the fireplace full of cinders. I grimace at the thought. This is where my hermanastras came up with my name, Cenicienta . I walked towards the stairs and looked down at my hermanastras rooms. They were getting ready for the baile. Tears began to roll down my face. I wiped them away quickly as I didn’t want my hermanastras to notice. I went downstairs and began to barrer the floor. I soon became tired and layed on my bed weeping softly. My hermanastras, along with my stepmother had left the house, when I heard such a noise. I ran upstairs to the kitchen to see a bright light. As I focused my eyes, I realized that this was some creature. The creature spoke and said “I am your Hada Madrina. I am here to help you go to the baile.” With a swoosh of her varita mágica I was ready with my beautiful gown and zapatitos. My hada madrina pointed to the garage off the kitchen door and said “Cenicienta, your carrauje is waiting.”
So with the help from my hada madrina and her varita mágica Cinderella was able to go to the baile to dance with the principe.
Now using my story and my blueprint, I picture in my mind coming into the house, seeing the mail, seeing the bedrooms that belong to my step-sisters, running downstairs to sweep then soon after running to the kitchen to find my fairy godmother with her wand. I picture her swooshing her wand changing my clothes and slippers then pointing to the garage where I find my carriage so that I can dance with the prince. As you can see I created associations to the house (palace/loci). Now I can remember the words by just imagining myself walking through the house.
This is a great way to remember new vocabulary and it is fun too!