Lately I’ve been reading Peter Oakfield’s How to Learn Any Language Successfully. At less than a dollar for your Kindle, let me tell you that this gem is a real steal. I can’t believe that he isn’t charging $99 for this book. Check it out here.
One of the ideas Oakfield discusses is memorizing narratives. He makes the point that memorizing individual words and phrases can lead to a lot of disconnected parts (especially if you haven’t got dedicated Memory Palace journeys based on alphabetical groupings). By memorizing longer sentences, we are in effective memorizing individual words and at least one context in which they can be used. Having a sample context in mind for different words could prove rather enabling.
I’ve memorized the lyrics to lots of songs and some poetry, but never thought trying an actual narrative. So to experiment, I’m going to work on Kafka’s Kleine Fabel, which you can read both in English and in German here:
The Memory Palace I’ve decided upon is Karen’s house and I’m going to start in the upstairs bedroom. I’ll spare you the intricacies of the images and actions I’ll be using, but in general I have three sentences.
The first sentence and the second sentence need only one station each, but it’s difficult to predetermine how many that long second sentence is going to need. Nonetheless, I’ll budget out ten stations in this “K” palace and add more if I need them (following the principle of moving ever outwards so that I can add new station if and when needed).
I might make a video about this process later on, so keep your eyes open for that. In the meantime, I’ll have some more things to say about the treasure-trove of ideas in Oakfield’s book (some of which contrasts, but mostly compliments the Magnetic Memory system), and cannot help but recommend again that you get a copy if you’re serious about achieving fluency.
But in the meantime, make sure to teach someone what you have learned about memorization. It’s the best way to deepen your own understanding and to help make the world a better – and more memorable – place. The more we remember, the more we can remember, and the more we learn, the more we can learn.