So you’re learning or planning to learn Chinese,right? Then we are in the same boat! As you try your hand at Chinese, you might realise that it’s so difficult to memorise these characters They are so different!A myriad of strokes, shapes and tiny elements… and only to realise that two equally complex characters are pronounced in the same way! Well there is a solution! And the solution is called memory palaces, arguably the most effective memory technique in history, which I mentioned in a couple of my previous videos by the way, so be sure to check them out. Let’s take an example: recently I had to learn the Chinese family tree. And just so you know, it’s as complex as it gets. 

In fact, one would rather opt for a smaller family, because every family member has his specific term!Grandparents are different depending on whether it’s on your mother’s or father’s side. All of your siblings have different terms depending on age and gender, and their children have subsequently different nephew terms, just like their spouses!And don’t get me started with your own children and grandchildren… And now, let’s take an example and memorise these! 

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This time, we’re going to learn Yeye: Father’s father What we’re going to do now is find associations for the character and its pronunciation, and then place this association into a palace,hence ensuring that we remember it. But first the association. How do we remember Yeye? A couple of  different approaches exist, what I do is this: I take the word, and split it into syllables: Ye-Ye Now I choose a word, of which the first syllable corresponds to the Chinese character. 

So Ye-Ye could be split into YEti and YEtiIn fact, I would simplify the task by remembering only one YEti, because all family member notion shave 2 or more syllables, and when you see the character itself, you notice that the character consists of 2 identical components, hence it’s most probably a word made out of 2 identical sounds, which is YE. Now, the most difficult part: the character.What many do not realise, is that characters are made up of much simpler characters, which are easy to link to an association. 

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Let’s zoom this in: Tell me, what do you see? I see a basic character here, which reminds me of 2 crossed hammers, and bellow I see a T and a hookYour job now is to create an association out of it. Now, I imagine a rather bizarre battle, between Mr. T wielding a big hook against a guy yielding 2 giant hammers. The guy wins and Mr. T is utterly defeated. Well that was a funny association, wasn’t it? That is exactly the point! Funny things are easily remembered, which is why the association has to be as entertaining and bizarre as possible. 

Note: the best thing to do is to take the basic characters (there are about a hundred) and create associations (or even 2) for each of them. This way, you are always ready to memorise a more difficult character like the one mentioned before. Now that we have associations for the pronunciation and the character, it’s time to put them somewhere. Well, Yeye means Father’s Father. If you have ever been to your Grandad’s house, just put the associations there! Say, the pronunciation image (Yeti) on his porch, jumping around or trying to get into the house, and the bizarre battle in the living room. 

If you haven’t been to your grandad’s house, try to pick your own house and create a memory palace within it. Say: the basement is the location for your grandparents, since they are the roots of your family, so put Yeye into one of the corresponding rooms. To avoid confusion, imagine your dad’s dad chilling on a rocking chair just in front of the door, so that you know what the association within stands for. Now, I know this sounds completely weird and new, but it works like a Swiss clock if you pick the right association!


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