Magnetic Memory Method Founder Anthony Metivier on How To Remember Words, Chinese Characters, Tones, and Beyond
He has refined his memory techniques by learning a number of languages, including Biblical Hebrew, German, Mandarin Chinese, and Sanskrit, and has gone on to teach thousands of learners how to maximize their memories and create unforgettable associations.
I like that his approach combines proven ancient principles with modern brain research, while focusing on practical application like remembering foreign language vocabulary instead of impressive but ultimately useless memory feats like memorizing decks of cards or long strings of numbers.
Anthony is a truly fascinating man with a wide range of interests and insights, and I think you will get a lot out of our conversation.
- How stress and depression first pulled Anthony into the wild world of memory and mnemonics.
- How Anthony applied memory techniques and mnemonics to learn Biblical Hebrew and German.
- How memory palaces transform 3D space into a powerful mnemonic device.
- Why memory techniques ultimately reduce cognitive load (despite requiring an upfront investment of extra time and energy).
- How Anthony uses vocabulary as the “anchor” for phrases and grammar in his memory palaces.
- Similarities between learning music and languages (especially in “dedicated practice” of “bars”).
- How memory palaces provide spaced repetition without technological distortion or interference.
- The pros and cons of spaced repetition tools, and the key difference between passive recognition and active production.
- How to creative strong, rapid memories (i.e. how to build more layers of myelin) through “KAVE COG” associations (Kinesthetic, Auditory, Visual, Emotional, Conceptual, Olfactory, and Gustatory).
- How to use mind maps to improve memory, refine thinking, and unlock creativity.
- Why difficulty can actually improve memory.
- “The way we get ourselves to remember is to work at recall.”
- Why such memory techniques have survived the test of time.
- The many ways in which memory palaces and mnemonics are “joy inducing.”
- Anthony’s responses to the common myths about memory, language learning, etc.
- How Anthony uses mnemonics and memory palaces to learn Chinese characters and tones.
- The importance of movement and dynamism in one’s mental imagery and mnemonics.
- How to best structure your time and increase focus.
- Anthony’s daily learning routine and the basic principles he applies to all language learning endeavors.
- The pros and cons of digital vs. analog approaches.
- The critical role of sleep and nutrition in learning and consolidation.
- A live, unrehearsed, step-by-step example of creating a mnemonic story using a memory palace.
- Why you should physically draw your memory palace on paper.
- How to translate slippery numbers into sticky words and images.
- Why we are so good at remembering stories, and how stories are really just about space and movement.
- How memory palaces let you relive beautiful moments and overcome painful experiences.
- Why you should stick with a teacher or method for at least 90 days before trying another.
- The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. by Daniel Coyle
- Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything by Joshua Foer
- Mind Map Mastery: The Complete Guide to Learning and Using the Most Powerful Thinking Tool in the Universe by Tony Buzan
- Fluent in 3 Months: How Anyone at Any Age Can Learn to Speak Any Language from Anywhere in the World by Benny Lewis
- Remembering the Kanji 1: A Complete Course on How Not to Forget the Meaning and Writing of Japanese Characters by James Heisig
- Remembering Simplified Hanzi & Remembering Traditional Hanzi by James Heisig & Timothy W. Richardson
- Master Japanese: How to Learn Japanese Anywhere in the World by John Fotheringham
- Master Mandarin: How to Learn Mandarin Chinese Anywhere in the World by John Fotheringham
- Memory palaces
- Roman Room System
- Journey Method
- Method of Loci
- Declarative Memory
- Procedural Memory
- Dedicated practice (a.k.a. “deliberate practice”)
- Serial-position effect (including the primacy effect & recency effect)
- Forgetting curve
- Spaced repetition
- Active recall (a.k.a. the testing effect)
- Diffuse thinking
- Autobiographical memory
- Venn diagram
- Mandarin Chinese tones
- Tone sandhi
- HSK (汉语水平考试, “Chinese Proficiency Test”)
- Mnemonic major system
- Mnemonic peg system
- Tim Dalgleish, clinical psychologist
- Nelson Dellis, 4x U.S. Memory Champion
- Tony Buzan, author
- Benny Lewis, author & polyglot
- Leo Tolstoy
- Mattias Ribbing, Grandmaster of Memory
- Eckhart Tolle
- James Gerwing
- Thales of Miletus
Other Resources Mentioned
- Day One journal app
- Anastasia Woolmer’s TEDx Talk: Memory fit ― How I learnt to exercise my memory
- The 8 Best At-Home Workout Routines: The Ultimate Guide for Training Without a Gym
- Confucius Institute
Mandarin Chinese Words
- zhǔnbèi (準備 / 准备, “prepare” or “preparation”)
- duō (多, “many”)
- shǒujī (手機 / 手机, “cell phone”)