The Linking Method
Since the memory works by creating links between information and constructing facts and figures into mental frameworks that expand your knowledge library, it makes sense to consider a memory tool known as the linking method. This is especially helpful if you have to recall names, numbers, dates, grocery items and other mundane data that is hard to prioritise even if it is important. So far, you have learned that memorisation techniques are geared to getting you to focus and create meaning in everything you need to memorise whilst at the same time allowing your mind to exercise its creativity when developing this meaning. This chapter explains what the linking method – also known as the link method or chaining method – is and how it can be used to ignite your memory recall capacity.
The linking method is considered a simple, yet powerful, mnemonic technique. It provides moderate effectiveness for what is considered to be a very low learning investment that anyone can use and benefit from, especially students revising for their exams.
Here's how it works:
- It works by making those associations that were explained in the previous chapter. These associations involve things that are most often found in lists. Then, this information is turned into a story.
- It is up to you to create the flow of this story and create strong, stunning, and, of course, memorable visualisations with imagery so that you can use these as cues to remember the list of information.
In using the linking method, it has been proven that an object that is associated to the next item on the list takes the confusion out of memorising lists of items even if it seems like the items do not share a relevant connection to each other.
This is a memorisation technique that does take practice but is well worth the effort.
Here is a good example of just how easy it is, using a random list of words or terms:
- Take the following list of common items: cat, hat, flower, house and bag. These do not really have an obvious connection but are just a list of items. It does not seem like you could connect them easily together. It is important to note here that this technique does work best with non-abstract meanings.
- This is where your imagination comes into play as it can work on creating some interesting and innovative connections or links. Each mental picture you create must have two objects in them with the first being the one you need to remember and the next being the link to the next mental picture that you need to create.
- Let's start with the cat. Most people are familiar with the story of the cat in the hat so you could start by visualising a very funny cat that's bright blue, standing upright and wearing a bright red hat. This cat also has a flower sticking out from his hat. This flower came from the house where the cat in the hat visited to entertain the children. While at this house, he found the flower and collected it in a bag to take with him from the house and from which he later took the flower, put it in his hat. He then became the cat in the hat with a flower that came from the house where he got the bag that held this flower. At the end, you realise that you have formed a chain of mental images to help you remember each item.
- Of course, you can add more details around each scene but you are linking each item to another item and using colours, location, scenery and sights along the way to explain each item.
This is very similar to another memory technique known as the Story Method but, with the link method, it does not have to be as involved in the detail that would then turn it into a story or narrative. And, like other memory techniques, it is important that you hone your visualisation and imagination skills to activate the memory recall that is possible from these techniques.
The advantages with the linking method are that:
- You only have to get the first link in the memory chain on your own accord as the visual images should guide you through the rest. If you need to rearrange the order to help you get started, that only involves some simple adjustments.
- You can move towards any direction whether backwards or forwards in the chain of links.
- You can engage your long-term memory to take care of information that might have otherwise been taken care of by your short-term memory and not retained to put to good use over a longer period of time.
It will definitely take practice, so do not get discouraged if you do not find immediate success from the linking method. It takes time to get your mind wrapped around a certain technique and develop it into a skill. You will get there with practice and find it to be a great tool and technique for memory recall, especially during exam time!