How to remember associations?

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#1 6 July, 2016 - 03:40
Joined: 1 year 4 months ago

How to remember associations?

I know that it sounds quite stupid, but I have found myself forgetting associations that I had made to remember words. I know that, if they are very random or not really "huge" (in a sense of weirdness) it's hard to remember them, but I don't think that mine are that bad.
A few examples of what I can't remember:
つめたい - cold (to the touch); chilly; icy; freezing | My mnemonic for this is somewhat my native language based: tu matai (tsu sounds similar to tu and metai to matai. The phrase means "you see"). So, since it means "you see" I imagined someone pointing to a pile of snow and saying tu matai, which then should lead to tsumetai. This mnemonic works perfectly, when my memory is still fresh, however, if I look at the word "cold (to the touch)" the next day and try to recall Japanese equivalent (or mnemonic) I can't!
anlegen - to invest | My mnemonic is based on dividing word into parts: an + legen. Legen - to lay; an - sounds like on (means at). So, I imagine somebody laying a huge amount of cash on a table. Again, the mnemonic works when my memory is still fresh, however, the next day I can't remember anything about the word!

Additional information:
Besides mnemonics, I am using a flashcards website called memrise, to keep me seeing words that I get wrong, however, I had found myself making same mistakes 3 or 4 times in a row (3-4 consecutive days). I don't think it's quite normal, so I was interested if there were any ways to get around my problem...

P.S. While I think that method of loci might be beneficial in this case, I usually can't create a memorable story, so the problem strikes from another perspective... (and I don't wish spending more than 30-60 seconds with one word a day (it's okay to review the next day))

Thank you for your help!

7 July, 2016 - 12:27
Joined: 2 years 8 months ago

Here are a few ideas to experiment with, if you haven't tried them yet:

  • Create multiple associations. For "tsumetai", you could add additional images on top of your original ones. Imagine touching a cold thing and sneezing: "aahhhh-TSU". That might get you past the tip-of-the-tongue effect where you can almost remember a word if you could only remember the first syllable. "Cold thing" => "ahhhhh-TSU [metai]" (crazy sneeze). You could make the image even sillier by imagining touching your tongue to a freezing metal car door handle, and then sneezing while your tongue is stuck to the car -- ridiculous things can be memorable.
  • Spend a bit longer thinking about the images in the beginning, and go for speed later. It gets easier and quicker with practice.
  • Words are three-way links. There are: 1) the sound of the word; 2) the meaning of the word; 3) the mnemonic image. Maybe spend a little extra time being sure that there are mnemonic links between all three things in all directions.
  • Review the images again 30 minutes before you go to sleep, and/or shorten the review intervals.
  • Make the images a little wilder: "anlegen" could be someone who brings their leg into a bank to invest it with the bank's financial services. The person doesn't have good grammar, and they keep calling it "an leg" instead of "a leg", which is really irritating to the bank employee, because they can't handle bad grammar. This also adds an element of motivation to the mnemonic story.
31 July, 2016 - 02:06
Joined: 1 year 4 months ago

Thank you very much for the suggestions! They look very reasonable, going to apply all the points you mentioned and see, if my memory performance increases.

2 August, 2016 - 19:08
Joined: 1 year 4 months ago

In scanning the different posts in this forum, it seems that the primary mechanism for learning vocabularies is through mnemonic / link word approaches. That said, what does it buy you to establish memory palaces / loci for words? The journey method approaches work great for chains of information, but associative memory is needed here, which is more random access, like being able to jump right to the 397th word instead of walking in your mind through 396 other things to get to it. Am I missing something? Should I simply work on develop proficiency at building associations through "imagination" and not get sucked into creating huge journeys/memory palaces?

4 August, 2016 - 10:40
Joined: 1 year 3 months ago

Yes, like anything else, you'll forget mnemonic associations if you don't review them!

I sometimes see people claim that you can come up with associations that are so vivid, strange, etc. that you'll "never forget them".... that hasn't been my experience and those people tend to be selling something.

I create flashcards to review mnemonic devices/associations. Basically, one side gives me the mnemonic and asks what it means. The other side has the meaning. Then there's a version that gives me the fact and asks what the mnemonic device for it is.

I use Anki for flashcards. The spaced repetition makes it more efficient. I believe memrise also uses spaced repetition.

Memory palaces are another way to review your mnemonic devices. Link them together in a palace and then stroll through the rooms every once in a while to review all the mnemonic devices. It seems like it would be very effective, but much more work than just creating flashcards. Also, when you review, you sort of have to review the whole palace.... not as efficient as spaced-rep flashcards.

It would be possible to combine mnemonic devices, spaced repetition, and memory palaces. In addition to the cards I describe above, have cards for each locus in a memory palace and test yourself on: what mnemonic device is in this locus, which locus comes before, which locus comes after, present the mnemonic device and ask in which locus and which palace it is, etc.... but I've never done that.

4 August, 2016 - 13:50
Joined: 2 years 8 months ago

you'll forget mnemonic associations if you don't review them!

I sometimes see people claim that you can come up with associations that are so vivid, strange, etc. that you'll "never forget them"

I think that review is necessary, even with advanced mnemonics.

There are some associations that I think I would never forget, but they tend to be ones that I've reviewed just by thinking about them repeatedly.

11 August, 2016 - 06:42
Joined: 1 year 4 months ago

Maybe that's the trick: build associations and use a memory palace to rifle through them periodically to reinforce your synapses. You work and build the links with flash cards, mneumonic mechanisms, and creative associations. I hear that lots of practice will help make the imagination kick in quicker, because I agree that building association "on demand" is a bear. But once you done that, if you can somehow embed these associations with the journey/memory palace, you've created an "easy" way to help drill the associations into a more permanent condition (like Anki but you can do in your head while doing mundane things). I think Ron White was talking about that the journey method was like using a form to pour concrete in. After a while, you can just remove the form. In this sense, maybe the associations and the journey linking the words can simply be like training wheels that you will eventually not need.

11 August, 2016 - 15:48
Joined: 1 year 3 months ago

I've definitely noticed a training-wheels effect. After a while, I sometimes remember the actual fact, but I can't remember the mnemonic device for it.

I also notice that when I test myself with flashcards, if it's a concept I've learned well I'll remember the actual fact first, and then the mnemonic.

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