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I frequently use the loci method (memory palace) to learn vocabulary, but I find that after 150-200 words my house is full with words/images and there is no space left. I know of people who can remember much longer lists, but I don't understand how they do this as I run out of space. Do they just use an extremely long walk? Do they use an imaginary memory palace that they can make as big as they want? I tried creating a fictional palace but it doesn't seem to have the same effect.

Googling only gives me basic examples of using short lists but I want to remember 1000-10000 words. How can I remember so many words using a memory technique?

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  • I've had the same problem, not enough space and too much time to build, so I'm making an app that would create a memory palace in one click and also with up to 2000 loci. Aug 15 at 19:12
  • Learning words will not help you really, to learn a language. Most textbooks work with subject areas; at the playground, at the school, at the office, etc. Those kinds of texts are much better for language learning.
    – Lambie
    Aug 24 at 18:31

2 Answers 2

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Apparently constructing an imaginary memory palace (instead of using a real place) is the way to go. It is only harder to setup in the beginning, but after that it should be as efficient as the loci method using a real place. I will google, and maybe I will find some tips for constructing imaginary memory palaces.

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  • Just pretend you are a Saudi prince, and then you can use a real palace ;)
    – AML
    Mar 1, 2019 at 2:08
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    This only seems to increase the memory burden; now you have to remember what you imagined, too.
    – tripleee
    Aug 17 at 12:13
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I'll assume that you're memorising words as a means to develop your communicative competence, i.e. the ability to use language to make meaning, e.g. listening, speaking, reading & writing in the target language.

Word palaces are a mnemonic technique to remember lists of words & as you've noticed, with this technique alone, you quickly run into its limitations. I think of mnemonics as one tool that is useful for certain things under certain circumstances in a box of other tools. There are other memorising techniques that will also be suitable depending on your needs & these are just one strategy, known as "retrieval practice," (out of six main strategies) for effective learning.

You can find quick illustrated introductions to retrieval practice & the other five strategies (aimed at learners & teachers) here: https://www.learningscientists.org/downloadable-materials

I hope this helps! :)

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