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6.3 Memory palaces

Another way in which you can use mnemonics is through the technique known as ‘the method of loci’ (from the Latin locus, place) also known as the memory palace

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It is important that you remember the stations in your memory palace, and it helps to draw them. Here’s a map of the memory palace I used for this activity, with eight stations:

A drawing of a layout of a room.
Figure 8 A memory palace.

This technique of the memory palace can be really useful to learn words in a foreign language too. You can rely on how the word sounds, what it reminds you of, etc, to make it memorable. Now you can put it into practice.

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Activity 4 Creating a memory palace

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes

So now it’s your turn. First, create a memory palace around a place you know well, such as your home, and select ten ‘stations’ in your palace in the order in which you would encounter them if you were walking around it. It is useful to draw it, and number the stations, like I did.

Now, place one of the following Toki Pona words in each station, making memorable associations between the word and what it sounds like, or anything else that will help you remember it.

Jaki: disgusting, obscene

Insa: centre, content, inside

Kasi: plant

Lape: sleeping, resting

Kute: listen, hear

Noka: foot, leg, lower part

Linja, cord, hair, rope, thread

Poki: container, bag, bowl, box

Kili: fruit, vegetable

Nanpa: numbers

Discussion

I hope that doing this activity has shown you how you can use memory palaces to remember vocabulary. Try walking through your memory palace again tomorrow, and try to remember the Toki Pona words you placed there. And try it again in three days’ time, and again next week – by rehearsing your walk around your memory palace saying the words you have placed there, you are making your memories stronger.