Case Study #1 Announcement: How to Learn and Memorize the Vocabulary of Any Language


case-studies-50_So this is it.

The very first Smart Language Learner case study!

Time to put language-learning methods, techniques and products to the test.

I’ll publish periodic status reports that will detail my experiences with the method/product. The case study ends with a final report that will look back at the results achieved.

The first case study is about the following course:

How to Learn and Memorize the Vocabulary of Any Language

This highly rated Udemy course teaches you to use the Magnetic Memory Method to learn foreign vocabulary.

Note: the links to the course are affiliate links, which means that, should you purchase, I’ll receive a commission(at no additional cost to you). You can rest assured that the case study is an honest presentation of my results with this product.

This method is all about memory palaces. A memory palace is a mnemonic device to store and recall information by using your imagination.

The course recommends creating a memory palace for each letter of the alphabet of your target language, and placing multiple mnemonic images in each memory palace. These images represent the words you want to learn.

Just a Few Steps

The method consists of just a few essential steps:

  • Creating the locations of the memory palaces (preferably a real location you know well)
  • Creating stations in each memory palace (location)
  • Creating and placing mnemonic images, representing the words you want to learn, in the stations
  • Verifying that the images are working
  • Rehearsing your memory palaces by imaginarily “walking” through them

Many memory contest champions swear by this or similar methods. But memory championships are different from language learning so the question is:

Can you use it successfully for remembering foreign vocabulary?

Well, that’s what we’ll find out!

Memorization expert and enthusiast Anthony Metivier is the creator of this interesting course. You may be familiar with him through our first Ask the Experts post on learning vocabulary.

He’s also the author of various books on memorization and holds a BA and MA in English Literature, an MA in Media & Communications and a PhD in Humanities.

Video Course

How to Learn and Memorize the Vocabulary of Any Language is a 7+ hours video course. However, apart from a background logo and a little bit of text of what Mr. Metivier says in the audio, the course could have been audio-only.

Just a few videos offer something useful to the eyes of the viewer.

If you have decent Internet, no problem, but if you have turtle Internet, like me, you could only wish that the course was audio-only.

Goal of the Case Study

I’ll always try to couple a case study with a challenge. A goal to work towards — something to spice it up a little.

However, in this case, I’m too unfamiliar with the method to make a realistic estimation of what is possible. So I’ve decided to leave the challenge out, this time.

Instead, my aim for this case study is to expand my Spanish vocabulary and have a memory recall rate as high as possible.

How high?

I have no idea. But hey, doesn’t that make it more intriguing? 

The Parametersparameters-small (2)

This case study will run for a month: from April 1st to the 30th.

I will only work the Magnetic Memory Method 40 minutes a day, 4 to 5 times a week. So in effect, I’ll have about 800 minutes to execute the case study.

However, I’ve been doing quite a bit of prework and I’m not counting that. This is the work done to:

  • go through the course 
  • setup the memory palace locations and their stations
  • select the words

I use the old-fashioned dictionary to select the words.

I know, every expert warns against using the dictionary to learn new vocabulary, and so do I, but in this case it might actually work. We will see. I had to use the dictionary because my Spanish is already at a level that it’s hard to find words that start with specific letters just by reading stuff.

I will put every word in the flashcard app Anki, not to practice the flashcards, but simply to test myself at the end of the month.

The Skewing Factors

Any case study has factors that can skew the results positively or negatively.

I (Noel van Vliet) am doing this case study. That’s obviously a skewing factor. My results may be better or worse than yours.

However, although there are individual differences, I don’t think we’re as different as we hope think we are.

The other potential skewing factors that could influence the results are:

plus-smallSince I speak Spanish all day long, I’ll have abundant opportunity for using the newly learned words in conversations, which increases the stickiness of the words.

min-smallA lot of the words I’ve selected aren’t your every-day conversation words, thereby somewhat canceling out my advantage of speaking Spanish a lot.

min-smallThis is a method with a learning curve. It’s not a foreign-language-in-a-box solution (let me know if you find one ;-). It may take a little while before I get good at it.

You Can Join Me!

It’s no secret.

The more people take part in a study, the better the results.

That’s why it would be great if you joined me in the exploration of the Magnetic Memory Method.

You can share your experiences with us in the comments. I may even feature your words in future blog posts.

If you want to join me, you can buy the course here.

… but please note:

If you are not interested in joining me but are interested in the product, then I recommend you don’t purchase the course until after the results start rolling in. At least until that happens, I can’t recommend the course yet.

I’ll report back to you soon to present you my first results and experiences.

To be continued …

To find out about my day-to-day progress, you can follow me on twitter.


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  1. This is fabulous. I also have Anthony’s “How to Learn and Memorize the Vocabulary of Any Language” Udemy course so I’m game to join in (it’ll keep me on track too).

    1. That’s great to hear, Catherine. Please share your results with us.

      I’ve only done one session so far, yesterday, but it seems a whole lot more fun than I thought. Not easy in the beginning but really really interesting. Can’t wait for the next session!

  2. Great stuff…your suggestions are always worth following Dick (editor note: my name is Noel, actually.:-) have always followed your posts as they inspires me to learn more and more new languages.

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