Category Archives: Memory Skills

Quickly and Easily Learn a New Language

Klaatu Barada Nikto! The meaning of this phrase, repeated in the recent rendition of “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” has been widely discussed and the generally agreed upon meaning is that it is a kind of “safe word” used to keep the giant Gort from destroying the Earth.  While no translation has ever been given by the writers of the original screenplay, you can understand the meaning by the context in which it was used.

When we are babies, that is exactly how we learn English, or whatever other language you happened learn when you grew up. We pay attention to the sounds, and expressions, and figure out what they mean by the context in which they are used. When we practice copying the sounds and phrases of the adults around us, we learn what words get us what things. Over the course of three or four years, we unconsciously soak up all the grammar, sentence structure, and vocabulary that will form the basis for our entire communication that we use for our entire lives. We do all this without thought, worry, or stress. It just happens.

So what makes it seemingly so hard to learn a foreign language when we get older? Do our brains change somehow, as many believe, making it harder for us to learn as we get older? I don’t think so. I suspect that wherever you are in your stage of life, if you put yourself in an environment exactly the same as when you learned your native language, you’d learn a new one just as quickly. The rub is making sure the environment is EXACTLY the same. Surrounded by loving adults who give you all kinds of happy feelings when you speak, correctly or incorrectly. An environment where the ONLY thing you were expected to do was learn things. And environment where you didn’t have to worry about food, TV, or anything else that you take for granted today.

Unfortunately, unless you have a lot of money to throw around, re-creating the environment where you learned your first language is not likely. So if you want to learn another language, you need another strategy. Luckily, if you’ve read my other articles on memory, you already have a fantastic strategy for learning new words in a foreign language. It’s called pegging. If you haven’t read the other articles on memory, I suggest yo do that.

Imagine you want to learn the Japanese word for apple. Ready? I’ll teach it to you. Imagine you are in Tokyo at a Beatles concert. You can see John and Paul in the front, and George off to the side. But you can’t see the drummer, what’s his name. You walk over to the side, to get a better look. And to your shock, instead of the Beatles drummer, you see a giant apple, with arms and legs, banging away on the drums. How do you say “apple” in Japanese? You guessed it: Ringo.

Now if you need to, you can add more stuff to that picture to make it more memorable, but keep the elements the same. An apple playing drums for the Beatles at a concert in Tokyo. Try this with other words. Take the target word (in this case, “Ringo”) and say it until it reminds you of anything in English. Then just connect them up using a crazy, emotional, nonsensical picture/story. The more you do this, the easier it will get.

Now how long did it take to learn that? One minute? Two minutes? Do you know how many words are the base for everyday fluency in any given language? About 3000. And that’s really stretching it. Most linguists figure there’s really only about 500 that people use in basic non-technical conversation every day.

If you only spend 5 to 10 minutes a day, you could easily become conversationally fluent in a new language every year. And simply because you can imagine this, you can make it happen. How much would that impress your friends?


Easily Remember Names and Impress Your Friends

“Oh Hi!”
“What’s up?”
“Nothing much, same old. Ya know.”
“Who’s your friend?”
“Oh, this is, uh, um, jeez,” blush, “I’m sorry, what was your name again?”

Don’t you hate when this happens? How would you like to learn a technique that once practiced, would ensure that you always remember peoples names? Do you think you could find this new skill you’re about to learn useful? Don’t worry, it’s easy, however, it does take a bit of mental practice once you easily remember the simple technique.

It’s similar to the pegging technique from that other article. If you haven’t, you might consider to read it, as it has useful background on memory in general.

This way is specific to remembering peoples names. The first step in remembering somebody’s name is to make the conscious choice to remember it before you hear it. Most people hear a name, and then later wonder why they can’t remember it. Memory is an active process, not an automatic one, unless there is one or both of those magic ingredients I mentioned earlier involved. Then it’s easy to remember.

So here’s what you need to do. When you see somebody that you are likely to meet, grab the first thing that jumps out about that person. Anything. Hair, shirt, tie, shoes, belt, nose, ears, eyes.  Since you are keeping this completely to yourself, it is ok to be a little bit mean, but remember to keep it to yourself. Say you see a guy, and he has a really really really big nose. We’re talking Pinocchio big. So immediately, you think of him as Mr. Big Nose. The more you add to it, the better. Like if he has really overgrown nose hair or something, fantastic.

So you meet the guy, and he introduces himself as Mike. Quick, what do you think of IMMEDIATELY when you hear Mike?  For me it was microphone. (As this example is based on a true story.) So now you have to connect Mr. Big Nose to Mike, or Microphone. In my particular example, I imagined the guy with three or microphones swing out of his nose as he walked around. And every time he turned his head, they would swing and crash into the people around him. After that, it was automatic to remember the name ‘Mike’ when I saw him. If you are worried about thinking unkind thoughts about somebody you’ve never met, keep in mind that remembering a persons name is the biggest compliment you can give them.

Another example. I was at a resort, sitting at the bar. I was going to be there for a week, so I thought it would be a good idea to get friendly with the bartender. The first thing I noticed was his unique hairstyle. While I don’t remember exactly how he had it, just that it was the first thing I remembered. He introduced himself as ‘Fred.” Hmm. Fred. Fred. Fred. I immediately thought of the scene in ‘Pulp Fiction.” Now because in the scene ‘Butch’ says “Zed’s dead,” instead of Fred, I had to include a picture of Fred Mertz from “I Love Lucy” just to make sure. So in my picture, I had this guys unique hair, dragging a bunch of dead people (including Mr. Mertz.) So the next time I saw him, I saw the hair, and the dead people (just like that little kid) and immediately say “Hey Fred!” Of course because I called him by name everytime, I never had any problems getting served right away, and my bill at the end of the week was at least half of what it should have been.

Now if you are worried about coming up with pictures for names on the spot, you can practice by finding a list of baby names and practice with those until you get the hang it. It’s that simple. When you get this technique down it will start to happen automatically, and not only with your old friends be amazed, but you will be collecting wonderful new friends as well.

Be sure to check back often, and read more articles on how you can improve yourself, and get a different perspective on reality. And after you master this simple memory technique and impress your friends, you’ll be sure to tell them about this site, won’t you?


Instantly Develop a Powerful Memory

Have you ever wished you could develop a potent memory that would cause you to never ever again need to write anything down? Have you ever been amazed by those guys on TV who could instantly memorize a room full of people that they’d just met? Can you imagine how cool you’d look to a room full of your friends when you stand up to give a speech with absolutely no note-cards whatsoever? Well, after you read this article and put these techniques into practice you’ll be able to easily develop such incredibly powerful mental skills you’ll not only have useful strategies but a set of wildly entertaining party skills. Ready?

The basic method is to learn a technique called pegging. This is a wild form of association.  Association is when you immediately link two ideas or words together. Like for example, when you think of the word baseball, you might immediately think of glove, or bat, or stadium. That is an association. Technically it’s because inside your brain there’s a strong neural connection between those two words. The idea behind pegging is to create a strong association between something that you already know well, to that which you want to remember.

Normally, these associations take time and effort. Like spelling. Many words don’t follow any normal spelling rules, like psychology, for example. The only way to remember to spell it without thinking is to write it over and over. Similarly, unless you can count really fast in your head, the only way to remember that 12 x 12 = 144 is to repeat the equation enough times so that you can create a strong neural connection.

However, pegging is an easier, quicker, and much more fun way to do this. Here are the simple steps:

Step 1: Create a list of items that you already know inside and out. For example, five things that are almost alwasy in your bedroom. (Like your bed for example.)

Step 2: Create an itemized list of the things you want to remember. Points in a speech, items at the grocery store, steps of the Kreb cycle, anything will work.

Step 3: Create a fantastically crazy cartoonish action and sensory filled picture containing any item from Steps 1 and 2 from above. It helps to involved yourself in this action cartoon picture. And if you are comfortable with it, add in the two secret ingredients (more on these later.)

For example, let’s say you are going to the store, and you need to buy eggs. You choose an item from your bedroom, let’s say your bed. So then you need to create a fantastical mind movie starring the eggs and your beds.  How about this: You are really tired, and you walk into your bedroom and collapse on your bed. Only somebody has put about a thousand eggs under your sheets, and all the runny egg stuff oozes out all over you, in your hair, under your clothes, inside your socks, between your toes. Or how about this: You come home, tired liked before, only this time you go to collapse on our bed, but you realize too late that your bed has magically changed into a giant egg, complete with sheets and covers and bed spread. As you collapse on your bed/egg it naturally breaks, but only partially and you find yourself inside a giant egg with all the bedsheets soaked in egg goo, and wrapped around you. Make sure to really feel the egg goo in your mind as you create this picture. It sounds complicated, but it really only takes a couple seconds.

So after you easily create this image, when you go to the store, and think of your bed, the egg image will instantly pop into your head.  You peg things to items in your bedroom, your bathroom, your car, any landmarks between your place and the closest 7-11, anything will work.

After you practice for a while, you’ll naturally become extremely proficient. I once gave a demonstration in front of a speech class I was taking.  People were amazed. When you do this, especially at parties or happy hours, people will think that you are a genius. Which, actually, you are as you start to use these mind development techniques that many others, like you, have learned.

And the secret ingredients? Sex and pain. Yep. If you involved sex and pain in your picture, it will be impossible NOT to remember it. Just make sure to keep the sex and the pain involving yourself (and the eggs and the bed in the above examples.) Be as graphic and creative as possible, but make sure not to let anybody peek inside your head while you are doing this, because they might think you are a little weird. And be sure that after you do this at parties and impress your friends with your new super powerful memory techniques, not to tell them about the sex and the pain part. You might be walking home.

Make sure to check back often to read these articles.  Because I will be posting as often as possible, please link or share this site as well.