We’ve all had that moment when we want to say something but just can’t quite remember the words we wanted to say. Learning vocabulary is one of the toughest parts of learning English. There are so many different words and idioms with different meanings and connotations. The best way to learn vocabulary is through seeing it in context and using it regularly but there are times when we need to memorise a set of new vocabulary.
Many people find flashcards are a good way to remember new vocabulary but we don’t always have them available when we need them. Here’s another way to memorise new words and expressions using just the power of your mind. It’s called the Method of loci.
If you’ve seen the British TV show ‘Sherlock’, you’ll already know a bit about the Method of loci. When Sherlock Holmes, the famous detective, needs to remember something important, he closes his eyes and goes into his ‘mind palace’ This is the Method of loci and you can use it to memorise new words and expressions.
‘Loci’ means ‘places’ or ‘locations’ in Latin and these places are what we use to remember new words or expressions. To do this, you build an imaginary place in your mind and use the people and things in this place to help you remember the vocabulary.
For example, if I wanted to remember words and forms related to the word ‘run’, I might imagine a story in my mind: My imaginary place is a city. It’s late afternoon and the sun is setting when I run into my friend Richard the runner, who is running to the shops to buy some milk. He is running late and he has nearly run out of time before the shop closes.
If I need to remember more words related to ‘run’ I can add them to this story then if I ever have difficulty remembering the words or expressions, I just need to close my eyes and imagine Richard running to the shops to bring the expressions back into my mind.
As I learn more words and expressions, my imaginary city will grow and I can use it to help build up lots of different areas of my vocabulary. Your imaginary place doesn’t need to be a city, it can be anywhere that you feel comfortable imagining in your mind – it’s really up to you.
So, give it a try and let us know some of the words and expressions in your ‘mind palace’ using the comments section below.