I have a terrible memory. I cannot memorize anything, well, almost anything. For example, I cannot memorize my cell phone number. So I printed my name and my cell phone number on a label and stuck it on the cover of my cell phone. I cannot memorize some of my passwords either. This is not my fault, and I have a good excuse: the passwords that I can memorize, such as “password” or “123456,” are not allowed by the evil computer systems.
So I hide my highly secure passwords (which are randomly generated and comprise of upper case letters, lower case
letters, numbers, and symbols, like “y3R]Q&a1”) under the keyboard. Shame on me, because I teach information systems security, and what I did is clearly a security breach. But what else can I do? I definitely do not like any of the biometrics based authentication methods. (“Iris scanning?” Oh my God, are you going to use it to poke my eyes?).
Another example, I enjoyed Chemistry in middle school I had a lot of fun (we made soda in lab.) However, I became to hate Chemistry in high
school, because I just cannot memorize the periodic table. Its elements as well as their weights and charges. So, hydrogen peroxide (H2O2)
is water (H2O) with an extra oxygen molecule. Therefore, H is unstable. Sounds logical, but why? Ok, I know, it is all related to the periodical table, but then what the heck is D2O (heavy water)?
But, most of all, I cannot memorize long words, like “pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis” or
Ok, be serious, I am really talking about such words like “ablution.” Michael taught us to cut a long word into smaller pieces or variants first. Then try to make sense of them based on my personal knowledge. Michael calls it a “clue.”
For example, “ablution” can be chopped into three variants: a+blu(e)+(ac)tion, and, all of a sudden, it becomes much easier and friendlier for me to memorize. I am able to memorize this word, because I know a household cleaning company called “Blue Water.” So, “a blue (water) action” means cleansing by water. Is it obvious?
The beauty of this method is that the word--ablution has become my knowledge, just like the household cleaning company--Blue Water has. Therefore, I will remember this word forever,. It is a part of me, as a whole package, just like my name, birthday, etc. By the way, Michael calls this “package” a knowledge base, and it is my own knowledge base. It is a knowledge base because other people may not have the same kind of knowledge like what I have. “A blue (water) action” only works for me, because each individual has his/her own knowledge base.
Michael has developed a systematic method to create clues of memorizing words in many different ways. The above “ablution” example is the mostbasic method, but as you can see, it works.
Michael’s method can also be used in many applications. For example, how to memorize a typewriter keyboard layout? Based on his own knowledge base, he creates a clue of memorizing a keyboard layout.
He divides the keyboard layout into smaller pieces or groups and makes senses of them. Some of the examples are: “!” and “1” look alike, so they belong to the same key.“7” reminds him of “7-Eleven,” so “7” and “&” are on the same key.
In Mandarin Chinese, the pronunciation of the legendary “eight immortals” is similar to the pronunciation of “eight stars.” So, “8” and “*” are grouped together.
A personal note, I know that there are eight stars on the state flag of Alaska, so, based on my knowledge base, the flag of Alaska is a clue for me to link “8” and “*” together.
Eleven at the time, she was born in the United States. In 4th grade, she did not know how to spell bicycle. However, after learning this memory method, she represented her class of 33 students to participate in the Spelling Bee contest for the same grade level at her school and also entered the final of the best five in 2012. Her teacher wrote a note to her father and said, "She is going to be something one day" all after just two weeks of training our method..
Due to the school incorporated the fund raising activities with the final competition, the event was held at an outside of campus. As the result, due to her stage phobia, Molly finished in fourth place among 500, which is pretty impressive.
Shortly after the contest, she had participated in a Chinese learning project, from 12/11/12 to 2/10/13. She could only use her spare time to study for it in addition to her regular school work.
Again, by using the method she is not just able to memorize a lot of English words without repetition but also to memorize Chinese characters. After this two-month project, from a Chinese illiterate, she quickly improves herself to become a person who recognizes at least more than one thousand traditional Chinese characters. Now, she can read books or materials that required a Chinese, at least, with about 3 or 4 years Chinese schooling. The following paragraph is one the example to demonstrate her reading level.
“在歷史上留名的偉人, 有幾位具有異於常人之相, 舜就是其中之一. 據說舜的眼睛裡各有兩顆眼珠子, 所以大家又叫他「重華」, 除此之外, 跟一般人沒有什麼不同.”
In case you are interested, it's from one of her favorite books titled “the story of Filial Piety part story”. After all, properly you are still wondering what kind of Chinese characters Molly learned. On the last day of the project, Michael evaluated her and asked her to write the vocabulary. She knew both the pronunciation and definition. Approximately, in one hour 45 minutes, she wrote down the Chinese characters popped right in her head as following:
友樹發工左本人 入忍火水冰凡殳凶冂方匚匸蟲中小事王玉古天田白百子豆也了看言說她好广女奶雙來回口月朋面由袖沖兒這去把出只學老生的土鳥馬媽推尸雨傘電要自己小東西飛心 耳禾為不並劉家然辶個黑點身麼我帶愛位名外無錢魚可以樂牛年間象像仙山父巴爸爫木但日刀力閔騫雖天同幾多爹孝立舜親他繼米高貝非壞如後母法呢承弟平因囡此 花化正洪和才丁丙已派都娥嫁兩國過片爿想們頂順話開把金梯堯忄心之卜辦匕筆次香吃茶奇柿坡隻成流太蝴蝶彎頭炒少瓜紅甜果摘杷皮胖婆抓熱草兔哈李滿皿甘書龍 公雞啼圓蜘蛛酉兮洗石碧當教黃斗吹做鵝爺妃美肉番春森林房英用釣江
Here is an example of how Molly used our method to memorize the English. Using our method, she used clues to memorize both how to spell the vocabulary and its definition.
Words that popped right in my head (from Molly):
-meniscus-the curved part of the graduated cylinder
clue: Men +his +cups
-shallop – 2 part masted boat
clue: she + all +loop
-notation -notes or marks to indicate something
clue: note + action
clue: limp+ act
-bodice -upper part of a women’s dress or blouse
clue: body + nice
clue: re+ the + tour + ically(ending of a word)
-pinnacle - a lofty peak
clue: pin + can +leap
-harass - annoying
clue: hair + ass
-baylee -whales bone
clue: bay + peel
-bailiwick- office of bailiffs
clue: bail + I + wick
clue: ba + older + dash
-ballad - folk song
clue: ball +ad
clue: card+ I +do
clue: add + germ
-cargo - the goods or merchandise conveyed in a ship, airplane, or vehicle
clue: car + go
-manipulate - control
clue: Man! + I + pull +late
-fiasco – a complete failure
clue: F + bias + co.
-pan- every, always
clue: nap (Good Luck Charlie)
clue: I +am +pity
-ambi- on both sides, neutral
I started learning the earlier variation of this method in 6th grade, and I stopped near the beginning of 7th grade.
For me at that time it was very difficult. The method wasn’t as refined or simplified as it is now. The method now is very easy to understand and fun to learn, but at the time I was often confused and didn’t understand anything. Michael admitted later on that even though he could memorize everything, it was more difficult than the current one.
So like I said, the earlier method was not very easily learned, but I still gained a lot of knowledge from it. I found that once in a while when I was learning words or memorizing phrases I would still break the words down to simple phrases. But like I said, it was only once in a while since I still did not fully understand the method, and it was too tedious to use the method to memorize everything.
In the middle of my 10th grade year, Michael told me he was holding a memorizing competition, and said I should give it a go. I decided to try it since he said that the method now is fully developed and wouldn’t be too hard anymore. To be honest, I was really iffy about it in the beginning, since I had such a bad experience from the first one.
When I was editing the handouts and homework I rarely read what they had to say. I just fixed any grammar or spelling mistakes I could find.
The first day in the memorization class, I found the method that Michael was teaching is now a lot easier and so much more fun. We did a lot of group competitions together and it was overall more interesting. I could form clues for all the words we did in class a lot faster, and it was fun talking to the other people in the classes. The method now is very straightforward.
You get your TMC, practice breaking a word down into smaller words, learn the different ways to use them (like linear and circle) and it's just perfect. The earlier method was all over the place in content. You would learn some vocab or prefixes and then learn how to memorize numbers. After that you would go back to memorizing small vocabulary and then Michael would teach me how to string them together. See what I mean? It took too much work to memorize just a single word.
Like what other people have said, Michael's method really does make life and studying a lot easier, but I would say you really need to put the effort into it. The method itself doesn’t take a long to time learn and is quite simple, but you need to get used to it.
The actual process of learning how to break words down and making them into stories takes a while. Your brain needs to wrap around the fact that you can’t just sit there and repeat a word till you “memorize” it. In the beginning it can be a bit difficult for some people, but in the end it can pay off. You can memorize huge words without spending much time, and it can help in all of your studies. Even if you aren’t able to completely master this method, you will still gain a lot from it.