Let’s fact it: Rote learning sucks.
For me, the worst part about looking at the same index card a thousand times is this:
There’s no music in it.
It’s just blunt force hammering information into your brain.
This idea was never so clear to me as when I interviewed the drummer of my own band.
Tito was talking about how so many musicians practice by playing with a recording or with a metronome instead of actually performing the song from memory.
Actually, as he put it, real musicians play music from the “memory of the heart.”
This instantly reminded me of Memory Palaces and the temptation to fall back on rote learning.
There is a difference between playing the foreign language words and terminology we’ve learned from the strength of our associations as opposed to with the crutches of rote learning.
Yes, testing our memorization is important. For those of you who haven’t seen it, I’ve created a video about an effective way to do this using Excel files here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UMPMuOyfke4 …
But ultimately, the real magic happens when you can “play” the foreign language words you’ve memorized from the memory of your heart.
What this means in terms of using a Memory Palace is that you are “playing” the associations in order to play the music of the words you are looking for.
This is, in effect, the crux (but not the crutch) of my video course: How to Learn and Memorize the Vocabulary of Any Language.
In it, you learn how to turn what you’ve memorized into a kind of music. And play it beautifully.
A mystical way of looking at it? Perhaps, but I do think it is a lovely metaphor.